Highlight Round table: Theory, policy and practice in lifelong learning

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Subject Scotlandís Community Local Environment Awareness Raising Programme (Rona Beattie & Pauline Munro)
Outline The Community Local Environment Awareness Raising Programme (CLEAR) is an innovative training and capacity-building programme, provided by Planning Aid for Scotland (PAS).  The programme, designed to enable more effective participation in land planning issues that affect local communities, provides a community-based approach to lifelong.
    PAS is a voluntary organisation run by qualified and experienced town planners who voluntarily give free advice and information on all aspects of town and country planning and related issues to individuals, community councils, tenants associations and voluntary organisations. PAS believes that the CLEAR programme  was necessary because many people feel excluded from the planning system.  Excluded not because people donít have the right to participate but because the system is complex and they need to express their views in planning terms if they are to have any effect.
    The aim of CLEAR is to encourages people to get more involved in community activities by enabling community groups and activists to make a meaningful contribution to the local consultation period on the local or structure plan, and to empower the participants with lifelong skills of disseminating and understanding information which is normally outside the experience of the lay person.

The CLEAR programme operates in two stages:

  1. Community groups prepare for learning about the planning process by identifying issues that concern them.  This is facilitated by the CLEAR Programme Manager.
  2. Community Training Workshops Ė individuals and community groups attend a one day training event tailored to respond to the issues raised in the first stage.
It can be argued that the CLEAR project contributes to enabling communities to influence their futures.  Of particular value to communities is the impartiality and independence of the advice provided by PAS as a neutral body.  By sharing knowledge and developing awareness, CLEAR empowers those in the community to adopt courses of action previously unknown to them.  An example of this could be lodging a planning objection to a development which could have negative implications for their community. These interim findings therefore suggest that community groups and individuals have been able to apply new knowledge, adding to the social capital of their locality, and enabling them to reclaim a stake in their community. 
Source Selected passages from the authors' paper "Learning to plan, planning to learn: evaluating a community based approach to lifelong learning" presented at the HRD conference in Toulouse, May 2003 (see proceedings)
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO