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Abstract

Changing demographics and economic factors are focusing national attention on adult learning as a major resource for solving many of the nation 's social and economic dilemmas. However, adult learners, the poor especially, face obstacles to educational advancement even where tuition is waived or incentive grants are given. Despite the considerable recent growth of adult education, the vast number of those who need it the most are not as yet participating. This article examines adult-education practices and participation in general — in the areas of literacy, occupational education, and higher learning — and conditions in Massachusetts in particular. It explains why higher levels of investment in adult education are necessary to sustain the symbiosis between economic growth and education which has proven so productive in Massachusetts, and why policymakers should view adult learning in broader terms than skills training.

 

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