There are adults in Wetaskiwin who cannot read or write. There are others that dropped out of school for whatever reason and now find they would like to start over. And there are those seeking formal post-secondary training. They all have one thing in common; they want to live and learn in Wetaskiwin.
The roads leading from illiteracy to higher education aren’t always clearly marked and in many cases simply don’t connect with each other. Charleen Schnick, Executive Director, Wetaskiwin Community Learning Council, deals with these challenges on a daily basis. Her primary responsibility is to ensure programs and services are available that will enable adults to improve their knowledge and education. “The Community Learning Council for Wetaskiwin & Area (WCLC) is a non-profit organization that has been committed to helping adults pursue their interests in lifelong learning since 1973. They work in cooperation with the agencies and organizations in our publication as well as others in the community to provide a variety of lifelong learning opportunities.”
What does it mean to be able to learn and live in Wetaskiwin? The council is interested in sustaining and growing literacy and essential skill learning, foundational learning, and post-secondary learning and training opportunities.
On October 31st, 2013, Charleen gathered education stakeholders at NorQuest College to see how many ‘education roads’ there were in Wetaskiwin and area and what shape they were in. The discussions, facilitated by Dan DeWolf, were designed to explore educational opportunities presently offered in Wetaskiwin and region. The objective of the day was to explore what it means to be able to learn and live in Wetaskiwin. The council was interested in sustaining and growing literacy and essential skill learning, foundational learning, and post-secondary learning and training opportunities.
Cross section of participants
“I was really pleased with the participation cross section at the community dialogue,” Reflected Schnick. “It was our goal to have as many learning providers at the table as possible. There was good representation from the municipalities, Chambers of Commerce (Wetaskiwin & Pigeon Lake), Libraries, Literacy Program, Alberta Health Services (several areas), Wetaskiwin Regional Public School, private sector trainers (Wayne DiLallo from Directions for Wellness), an Ag Society, Economic Development, Recreation Depts, High School, NorQuest College, Primary Care Network, and Youth Group.”
The learning providers, businesses, students and other stakeholders were challenged with providing answers to the following questions:
• Who are the existing education/training providers and what do they offer?
• What are the mandates/constraints of the funders?
• What are the literacy, learning and training needs?
• What are the gaps between what is offered and what is needed?
• How do we as a community address these gaps?
• How do the education/training providers address these gaps?
Charleen reports some key outcomes
• Some participants were surprised at the vast quantity of learning providers in the area. Mapping the learning providers would be a great project.
• Discussing the mandates/constraints of the funders of the learning providers was a bit of a challenge but a definite eye opener.
• The focus of literacy, learning and training needs seemed to have some common threads at the different tables.
• Discussing the gaps between what is needed and what is offered, was enlightening and will hopefully point to directions that will help the community meet the objective of finding ways to learn and live in Wetaskiwin.
• It was very obvious who was not at the table and there was discussion around finding ways to consult with those groups.
Charleen’s next step is to, “compile all of the notes, try to make some sense of them and group comments according to themes, and then submit a draft to the planning committee. Then we were going to distribute it to the stakeholders before having another meeting. I expect there will be a stakeholder meeting; outcomes and next steps identified c/w timelines, and community ownership for executing the outcomes.”