Adult Education, offers adults programmes designed to broaden their horizon; in Austria, it operates apart from the regular school system and institutions of higher education and coexists with the various institutions devoted to advanced vocational training; until the 1960s it was called "Volksbildung" (education for the people). The development of adult education was promoted by the Enlightenment, but it was not until the 2nd half of the 19th century, when the right of association was granted, that it gained broad effect. At first, only the need for further education of certain groups was satisfied, and adult education was greatly influenced by political and denominational groups (liberal, Catholic-conservative or agricultural "casinos", Arbeiterbildungsvereine, Catholic Journeymen´s Societies), but after 1870 neutral institutions for all groups of the population were established (adult education centres in various provinces: in Styria the Steirischer Volksbildungsverein, founded in 1870; in Upper Austria the Oberoesterreichischer Volksbildungsverein, founded in 1872; in Lower Austria the Allgemeiner Niederoesterreichischer Volksbildungsverein, founded in 1885, its Vienna branch, "Wien und Umgebung", founded in1893, became independent under the name of Wiener Volksbildungsverein; university lectures open to the general public were organised in Vienna from 1895, in Innsbruck from 1897, in Graz from 1898; other institutions of this nature were the Vienna Urania, founded in 1897 and the Volksheim, founded in 1901). Adult education still remained in the hands of political parties (e.g. "Zentralstelle fuer das Bildungswesen" - "Central Office for Education", run by the Social Democrats) and the Catholic church (e.g. Leo-Gesellschaft, Volkslesehalle - public reading rooms, founded in 1899, Katholischer Volksbund, founded in 1908). In the First Republic, the state claimed the prerogative of administration and supervision ("Regulativ", 1919), but state financial assistance stayed within limits; the only kind of support was promotion and advice by adult education consultants. The unemployed became the main target group for adult education, courses were also organised by trade promotion institutions, the trade unions and the chambers of labour. Between 1934 and 1938 the authoritarian government tried to unify adult education and therefore the government assumed the burden of financing adult education. In 1934 the first Jewish adult evening school was founded in Vienna. It was not until 1945 that the private sponsoring societies of adult education started co-operating, as had been vainly attempted in the First Republic. In 1950 the Association of Austrian Adult Education Institutions was founded; in 1955 two religious educational associations (Catholic: Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Katholischen Bildungswerke Oesterreichs and Protestant: Arbeitsgemeinschaft evangelischer Bildungswerke) and one non-religious association (Verband der oesterreichischen Bildungswerke) united to create the "Ring oesterreichischer Bildungswerke"; in 1954 the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Bildungsheime Oesterreichs (Association of Austrian Education Homes) was founded. These umbrella organisations supported the planning and financing of adult education as well as the training of officials, who mainly worked on a honorary basis ("Riefer Zertifikatskurs"). In 1945/46 the state established a central office for adult education within the Ministry of Education. In 1972 the conference of adult education, "Konferenz der Erwachsenenbildung Oesterreichs (KEBOe)" was founded and charged with the duty of administrating state subsidies; this step was followed by the creation of further umbrella organisations (Berufsfoerderungsinstitut, Buechereiverband Oesterreichs, Institutionen Katholischer Erwachsenenbildung, Laendliches Fortbildungsinstitut, Oesterreichische Volkswirtschaftliche Gesellschaft, Verband Oesterreichischer Schulungs- und Bildungshaeuser, Wirtschaftsfoerderungsinstitut der Kammern der gewerblichen Wirtschaft). Since 1974 the Federal Institute for Adult Education (Bundesinstitut fuer Erwachsenenbildung) in Strobl (Upper Austria) has offered training and further training courses for teachers in adult education and librarians in public libraries; since 1986, eight pedagogic institutions (Paedagogische Akademie) have been offering four-semester courses for adult education. 1981 saw the adoption of basic principles for the development of a co-operative adult education system in Austria, which aims at creating a comprehensive educational system for adults, meeting the requirements of all groups of the population (1991/92: 144,638 courses and individual events); however, the creation of new institutions and shifts in emphasis in course design (e.g. intensive use of the modern media) have not helped to achieve the declared objective, i.e. to raise adult education to the level maintained by the regular schools and universities.
Literature#G. Bisovsky, Blockierte Bildungsreform, 1991; Erwachsenenbildung in Oesterreich, ed. by the Federal Ministry of Education and Art, 31991; W. Filla, Volkshochschularbeit in Oesterreich, 1991.