The Saskatchewan Association for Lifelong Learning (SALL) was established in 1971. It drew its membership and structure from roots in the Canadian Association of Adult Education (CAAE) and the Association of Adult Education (AAE), Saskatchewan Division.
Prior to 1970, the AAE, Saskatchewan Division, provided a focus for people who were interested in the promotion of adult learning opportunities. Activities were limited to a one-day annual meeting organized by the Extension Division, UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN and conducted by an executive which met several times a year. The meetings brought together a varied group of people: members of the Saskatchewan Women's Institute, field staff of the SASKATCHEWAN WHEAT POOL, school board members and a few school board staff, clergy (most from the United Church), Department of Education staff, agriculture extension workers and local committee members, and university extension staff.
A feeling emerged that the organization did not quite fit the needs of those interested in the promotion of adult education, and that it did not reflect Saskatchewan. The province had a rich background in adult education that had evolved out of developments in the 1940s connected to the evolving agricultural economy and infrastructure needs in rural Saskatchewan. In 1944, the CCF government headed by Premier T.C. DOUGLAS was the first government anywhere to establish an Adult Education Division within the Department of Education. The Farm Radio Forums (1939-65) and the high profile 1957 Royal Commission on Agriculture and Rural Life had raised the level of awareness for the need for adult education. The large co-operative movement and school boards also played a significant role in supporting adult learning activities. The extension role in agriculture and rural life carried out by the College of Agriculture and later the Extension Division at the University of Saskatchewan was unique in Canada. In 1971, a small committee developed a proposal for a more appropriate organization to address the current needs. Drs. Brock Whale and HAROLD BAKER of the University of Saskatchewan Extension Division provided the major leadership. Herb Kindred from the UNIVERSITY OF REGINA, Lorne Sparling from the Community College in Prince Albert, and several other individuals met to draft a mandate and a constitution for the Saskatchewan Association of Lifelong Learning (SALL). The main goals of the new organization were to provide a network for those interested or involved in the promotion and/or offering of adult learning, and to advocate the cause of adult learning to decision makers and to the general public.
Those involved in adult education at that time were volunteers from various geographic locations who had many divergent aspirations. To have a means of communication was thus very significant. Annual conferences and regional learning events provided opportunities for members to network, learn about new initiatives in adult and post-secondary education, and engage in policy forums on adult education. SALL established several awards to honour adult education practitioners and programs: the Roby Kidd award in 1992, to mark SALL's twentieth anniversary; and the Adult Education Program of the Year Award as well as the Community Adult Educator of the Year Award, both in 1994.
For over two decades, SALL was the major vehicle through which many Saskatchewan adult educators and policy makers communicated and shared ideas. In the 1960s few resources, public or private, were devoted to adult education, and few decision makers were concerned that adults should have more learning opportunities. SALL brought renewed attention to issues in adult education in Saskatchewan at a time when post-secondary education was rapidly developing in the 1970s and 1980s. SALL's participation in forums and consultations on provincial and federal initiatives ensured that the provincial adult and post-secondary education sector had an opportunity to voice concerns and make recommendations. In 1998, the SALL Board of Directors dissolved the organization because its original mandate had been met. Today, adult education is relatively well resourced and has become a priority in Saskatchewan. Several vested-interest groups including the Saskatchewan Literacy Network, the Saskatchewan Council on Educators of non-English Speakers, and the Saskatchewan Adult Basic Education Association continue to advocate for adult learners.
Lorne Sparling, Donna Woloshyn