Making another world possible!
March 17, 2013 1 Comment
This blog takes its title from ‘a programme of ideas’ published by ABF (Arbetarnas Bildningsförbund), the Workers’ Educational Association’s sister organisation in Sweden. You can read the full document at http://bit.ly/YiGVpo
Ruth Spellman, our General Secretary / CEO, and I met a group of colleagues from ABF in northern Sweden last week as they visited London. As always happens when we get together with our Swedish friends, we found a lot of common ground. We compared experiences about education for family learning, active citizenship, digital inclusion, social justice, decent work and culture. It was interesting to hear about their work and especially about how the Swedish government expects citizens to be ‘digital by default’ already and to be computer-literate as they engage with public services. There were certainly no awkward silences and we agreed on some practical actions to follow up their visit.
One of our educational themes in the WEA in England and Scotland is ‘Health and Wellbeing’. The others are Employability, Community Engagement and Culture. Here’s what ABF has to say on health and wellbeing, translated from Swedish to English.
Good health and a fulfilling working life
ABF seeks to create opportunities and conditions which allow everyone to look after their mental and their physical health. Everyone should have the right to live in a good living environment and work in a secure and safe working environment. Good health, a fulfilling working life and quality of life must be the right of everyone.
More people are living longer and are physically healthier than before. This is not true of everyone, however; the class-related differences are clear where people’s health is concerned. Those with a shorter period of education and those who do manual work are at much greater risk of illness than other groups. In addition, the differences in health between the sexes and between different ethnic groups are striking.
The causes of increased health and exclusion from working life are numerous. They include poor work environments, too little say when it comes to work and leisure, low wages and poor living habits.
Many employees bear witness to the fact that their knowledge and skills are seldom utilised. This explains the increased injustices between those with long and those with short periods of education with regard to public health and quality of life. The key to a good psychosocial work environment is influence over one’s own work situation. With a changed and learning work organisation, the knowledge that springs from work can be managed and developed.
Ill health is also due to lifestyle factors such as the consumption of alcohol, poor diet and insufficient exercise. Good public health is not only about prolonging life; it is just as much about improving the quality of life for everyone.
ABF aims to work towards a good living environment, better public health and a fulfilling working life. By increasing cooperation between the member organisations, liberal adult education can become an important part of public health activities.
It’s interesting to see how adult educators in other countries think about these issues and we look forward to our continued future collaboration.