What we do

Adult and Community Education (ACE) Aotearoa is the lead body that promotes good practice for adult and community lifelong learning.

ACE in Aotearoa New Zealand is located within the tertiary sector (post-compulsory school level), and includes programmes of foundation skills such as literacy, numeracy and language, and personal interest courses for adults. The ACE sector is where learners who have had little or no previous success in their education come to “learn to learn” and commence a successful education experience; it is also where learners who have had previous success come to refresh and update their knowledge and skills, or acquire new knowledge and skills on matters of interest.

ACE is identified in many forms including informal education and non-formal education, post-compulsory education, adult learning, lifelong learning, leisure and recreation learning. Through ACE adults may choose to engage in a range of education activities within the community. It provides individual and group learning and promotes whānau empowerment, equity, active citizenship, critical and social awareness and sustainable development. ACE can occur in a range of contexts in both structured and spontaneous forms, all of which have their own value. It may be initiated by individual and group needs which encourage adults to learn to understand their world and to seek change within it.

ACE is offered through schools, specialist non-government organisations such as Literacy Aotearoa and English Language Partners New Zealand, some polytechnics, rural education activities programmes, continuing education departments of universities, workers educational associations, private training establishments, work places, health, justice and social service organisations, community centres, unions, marae and other hapū/iwi and Māori organisations, as well as through a very large number of community-based, faith-based and cultural groups and organisations.

Because of the diversity of adult learning on offer in Aotearoa and the way it is delivered in communities, it is difficult to accurately determine how many learners might be engaged at any one time. However a recent survey which asked ACE Aotearoa members to provide data on their learners and the range of learning offered by their organisations, indicated that over 60,000 learners were engaged in over 7,500 programmes.