The public mission of adult education centres is to provide all citizens with a wide range of educational opportunities. It is geared to the individual interests and needs of the participants and to the needs of society. The programme is correspondingly multi-faceted.
The diversity of content is reflected in seven key programme areas:
Languages and German as a second language
With around 212,000 events annually, languages are the most extensive programme area. More than 2.4 million participants are registered each year. Overall, there are courses in more than 50 languages throughout Germany.
In addition, the importance of courses in German as a second language has been increasing at adult education centres for many years. The adult education centres are the largest providers of integration courses. Around 1.14 million people learn German every year at the vhs.
The health courses are the most popular, with around 2.5 million participants per year. The focus is on exercise, relaxation and stress management courses, as well as nutrition and cooking courses. Due to its extensive quality development, health education at adult education centres also has a high level of acceptance by health insurance funds and companies.
Culture and creativity
Every year, more than 1.7 million people take advantage of cultural education opportunities. They discover the cultural wealth of their region through lectures and visits to exhibitions, concerts and the theatre. Or they develop their own artistic and creative potential in practical courses on topics such as dance, music, photography, plastic and textile design.
Politics, society and the environment
With their offerings from the "Politics, Society, Environment" programme area, adult education centres encourage around 1.6 million participants each year to critically engage with political issues. In this way, adult education centres promote participation in social life. Discussion forums, history and future workshops or citizen dialogues with political decision-makers identify adult education centres as places where democracy is practised.
Work and career
Courses for continuing vocational training account for around eight percent of the courses offered by adult education centres. The range on offer includes IT courses, seminars on time management or project planning as well as courses that build up specialist skills and prepare students for recognised vocational qualifications. Almost half a million people make use of these courses every year.
School qualifications can only be made up if the basic knowledge has been sufficiently trained before. This means if basic skills in reading and writing, in arithmetic and in dealing with digital media have been acquired. Adults learn reading, writing and arithmetic and broaden their knowledge in their own preventive health care, the handling of digital developments as well as in economic issues. Post-school basic education supports access to the training and the labour market as well as active participation in society.
As centers of excellence in basic education, adult education centers offer adults, functional illiterates and thousands of young people who have left school without successfully completing their basic education and graduation programs a second chance.