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A common defining feature is that programmes and activities are developed in dialogue with communities and participants. The purpose of community learning and development is to develop the capacity of individuals and groups of all ages through their actions, the capacity of communities, to improve their quality of life.
Central to this is their ability to participate in democratic processes. Community education encompasses all those occupations and approaches that are concerned with running education and development programmes within local communities, rather than within educational institutions such as schools, colleges and universities.
The latter is known as the formal education system, whereas community education is sometimes called informal education. It has long been critical of aspects of the formal education system for failing large sections of the population in all countries and had a particular concern for taking learning and cats are rad tunities out to poorer areas, although it can be provided more broadly.
There are a myriad of job titles and employers include public authorities and voluntary or non-governmental organisations, funded by the state and by independent grant making bodies. Schools, colleges and universities may also support community learning and development through outreach work within communities.
The community schools movement has been a strong proponent of this since the sixties. Some universities and colleges have run outreach adult education programmes within local communities for decades.
Community educators have over many years developed a range of skills and approaches for working within local communities and in particular with disadvantaged people. These include less formal educational methods, community organising and group work skills. Since the nineteen sixties and seventies through the various anti poverty programmes in both developed and developing countries, practitioners have been influenced by structural analyses as to the causes of disadvantage and poverty i.
Thus the influence of such educators as Paulo Friere and his focus upon this work also being about politicising the poor. In the history of community education and community learning and development, the UK has played a significant role in hosting the two main international bodies representing community education and community development.
These being the International Community Education Association, which was for many years based at the Community Education Development Centre based in Coventry UK. ICEA and CEDC have now closed, and the International Association for Community Development, which still has its HQ in Scotland. In the 1990s there was some thought as to whether these two bodies might merge.