Enablers and constrainers to participation: Has policy in Nordic countries reached its limit for raising participation in adult learning among certain groups? Paper presented (with R. Desjardins) at the II Nordic conference on Adult Learning, Linköping, Sweden, 17-19 April
Despite comparatively high and equal participation in adult learning in Nordic countries, a distinct pattern of non-participation persists. Moreover, the pattern of adults who tend to participate comparatively less often is similar to the non-Nordic countries considered, although it is less accentuated. The Nordic countries have a long shared history of supporting and fostering a rich adult learning culture. Although various historical, social and cultural factors are behind this, Nordic countries also share a strong record of public policy that aims to: promote adult learning, target various barriers to participation, and ensure that disadvantaged groups have equal opportunity to take up adult learning. Together, observations indicate that policy matters in promoting adult learning, especially among adults that would otherwise not participate. At the same time the observations indicate that despite targeted efforts, barriers continue to persist among certain groups. This paper briefly reviews some of evidence on participation patterns in Nordic countries and some of the defining parameters that may explain the observations. This is done in a comparative perspective by contrasting results from the 2003 Eurobarometer data between Nordic countries and a handful of non-Nordic countries. An emphasis is placed on the constraining and enabling elements to participation and how these may explain why certain groups participate more or less than others. A central question of interest to this paper is to what extent does (can) government intervention interact with constraining and enabling elements so as to raise participation among otherwise disadvantaged groups. To begin addressing this question, consideration is given to different types of constraints and different types of policies. These are brought together within a broad demand and supply framework, so as to construct a tool for analyzing the targeting of adult learning policy, with regard to both its coverage and expected consequences. Our aim is to develop a means for a more in-depth analysis of the match-mismatch of public policy and persisting constraints to participation.
participation; barriers; nordic countries
Main Research Area:
Nordic conference on Adult Learning - Meaning, relevance and variation, 2007