Educating the workers? The W.E.A. in New Zealand, 1915-1938

Roy Shuker
Vol 2, Number 1, p.19
The Workers Educational Association (WEA) was founded in England in 1903, as a non-political, non-sectarian, and democratic association for the promotion of workers‘ education. In 1915, the Association was established in New Zealand, where it for many years represented the only avenue of adult education outside of the universities. This paper seeks to show both the links and essential differences between the English WEA and its New Zealand counterpart. In critically examining the nature of the WEA in New Zealand, particular attention is paid to the underlying philosophy of the movement, the classes it offered, and the students these served. I have attempted to relate this discussion to the changing nature of the social formation during the period considered, and to the critical issue of whether the WEA functioned as a force for social change or as an agency for middle class cultural hegemony.