Adult Education is a practice in which the adults of a community are engaged in learning activities to develop new skills, knowledge or even personality. It is a platform where adults could use years of experience and knowledge to learn new skills for a better future. Adult education might also include classes for those adults who never had a chance to go to school but are eager to learn for dignity and growth.
Adult Education also includes certifications for the acquired skills; opening better job prospects and providing a chance for social and financial development of an individual. Adult Education has no restrictions of gender or age and men women as young as in their 20s and as old as in their 60s have enrolled for adult education; for the absolute pleasure of learning and progress.
How Literate are our Adults?
Today, globally more than 207 Million students are enrolled in graduation programs in various disciplines, but on the flip side we still have 750 Million illiterate adults who never had access to a classroom. Women on the other hand constitute to 68% of the total illiterate adults.
One in every five adults (20%) has never been to a school and is unable to read or write. Asia pacific (22%), North Africa (41%) and sub- Saharan Africa (41%) are still reeling under adult illiteracy. Thirty countries have adult literacy rate below 70%, out of which 22 are in Sub Saharan Africa.
With the efforts of respective governments and other non government organizations across the world, more people are enrolling themselves for formal or non formal education; still much is needed to be done.
Reasons Why Education is so important for Adult
Types of Adult Education and Their Advantages
Adult Education can basically be constituted into three types- formal, non formal and informal education. Below we will go through the three types of Adult Education in detail.
1) Formal Adult Education
Formal Adult Education is provided in a classroom type environment, under the guidance and supervision of trained professionals. Schools and colleges are some examples of Formal Education, but Formal Adult Education typically refers to the enrollment of experienced adults into various certification or learning for career growth. It refers to a program which provides formal credentials to adults who are already gainfully employed or never had formal education, but are willing to be employed. It may include a diploma or a certificate program, depending on the choice of the adult.
Advantage of Formal Adult Education
Formal Education provides an edge to the adults who are already employed in various sectors, or those who never attended school, and seek formal employment. A professional degree, diploma or certificate is awarded based on the credits to make the adult employable or to improve his professional skills.
2) Non Formal Adult Education
Non Formal Adult Education is an education provided at the workplace or at some community centre but not in a classroom. Non formal education doesn’t have a set curriculum, but it is conducted under the supervision of a trained professionals. Though, it doesn’t allot a formal degree or diploma, it is very useful in developing specific skills and increasing the productivity of a person. A desire to learn is the driving force behind Non formal adult education. Some of the examples of Non Formal Adult Education are- voluntarily teaching the women of a community to stitching, producing bags, making pickles, producing honey, farming or any such sustainable activity. They main focus of a non formal education is development of skills and capabilities.
Advantages of Non Formal Education
Individuals, who have never been to school and lack the skills or qualities to be regularly employed, are the main beneficiaries of this type of education. The adults undergo specific training courses like in trade, crafts, agriculture, computers etc, to improve their skills which they can use to gain employment or start a small business of their own.
3) Informal Adult Education
Informal Education for Adults also lack any curriculum or certification as in Non Formal Education and includes the knowledge that is gained through observation and experience without classrooms or books. It includes manners, behavior, moral etiquettes, judging good or bad, traditions, culture etc. An educated person teaching basic calculation, reading, writing to his illiterate peers; is an example of Informal Adult Education. Informal Adult Education is conducted through meetings, community get together and is usually informative in nature. The topics of Informal Adult Education may range from culture, language, day to day life, health and hygiene to knowing the fundamental rights.
Advantages of Informal Adult Education
Informal Adult Education is aimed at raising general awareness and personality development. It makes people aware of the customs and rituals, other communities, methods to live a healthy and hygienic life, health facilities in a village or community, basic amenities and rights of citizens. Informal Adult Education may include numerous other issues of social or political concern.
Illiterate Adult Education
An illiterate adult is an individual in the age group of 15 to 65, who is unable to read or write, in any language. Illiterate Adult Education refers to the education which is provided to the adults who have crossed the age of Formal Education (15-35 Years), but still have the desire to learn. It includes basic learning skills like reading, writing, languages, vocational courses, skill development etc. Though, an illiterate adult can any time in his life go for a formal education through various correspondence courses offered by various universities, but the Illiterate Adult Education constitutes mainly non formal and informal education.
The Illiterate Adult Education may lack any formal certification but is aimed at developing individual skills which can be used as means of livelihood as well as raising social status and carryout every day transactions.
How Many Illiterate Adults Are There In The World?
There are 781 Million illiterate adults in the world out of which 75% are in Sub Saharan Africa, south Asia and West Asia alone. Women constitute a staggering two third of the world’s total illiterate adult population.
India has the largest global population of Illiterate Adults; at 287 Millions, India constitutes 37% of the world’s illiterate adult population. Though, the literacy rate in India has increased tremendously in the past two decades; still it’s lagging behind as the increase is not proportional with population growth.
How to Implement Adult Education/Ways to Implement Adult Education
1) Reaching Out To Poor
Adult illiteracy is prevalent mostly in the lower strata of the society. Poverty is the prime factor responsible for adult illiteracy. Families living in poverty are most likely to have uneducated adults. There is need for the governments to reach out to people living in poverty and make arrangements for educating them and bringing them to mainstream.
2) Promotion through encouragement
Respective governments in collaboration with Non Government Organization should make plans for the promotion of education in elders. Events can be organized at the places of public gathering- post offices, community halls, and schools to educate people about the benefits of adult education and the changes which it could bring to their lives.
3) Budgetary allocation
Governments must allocate or increase the budget allocated for adult education. More budget means better infrastructure supported by trained staff and more promotional activities. Adults undergoing vocational training courses should be provided loans to set up their own business.
4) Displaying Social Responsibility
The educated of the society- retired officials, professionals, teachers etc can come forward to organize free teaching classes for the illiterate adults. General places of public gathering like – post offices, community centers, schools can be chosen as the place for such activities. A flexible time may be chosen which suits to the people from different backgrounds- working, farmers, laborers, housewives etc.
5) Students teaching family Members
Today more families are getting conscious about educating their children. They have realized the importance of education and don’t want their children to lack behind with children of other parts of the world. Such school going children can take up the responsibility of teaching their adults. A learning child could be the best teacher for his/her parents or other relatives; making learning a fun activity.
6) Vocational training courses
Attractive vocational training courses should be offered to lure in the adults who never had the opportunity of going to school or who lack the skills to be employable. Individuals should be provided training in their respective area of choice- business, crafts apart from developing other skills to increase individual productivity and employability.
7) Public Private Partnership
Governments must work in collaboration with public sector entities; latter working as sponsor for programs on adult education. The main purpose for such partnership is to develop infrastructure for adult education- setting up skill development institutes in villages, setting new vocational training institutes, providing infrastructure for formal, non formal or informal education to adults.
8) Open Universities
Open Universities provide an opportunity of Formal Education to illiterate adults as well as further education to adults who want to improve in their respective careers. There are nearly 500 Open Universities functioning across the world, providing flexibility of courses and time and charging nominal fee. There is no boundation to attend regular classes and so they a are much popular among working professionals and adults engaged on other sectors.
Continuing/Further Education for Adults
Continuing Education is known as Further Education in United Kingdom and Ireland. Continuing Education is different from Higher Education and the both should not be confused with each other. While Higher Education refers moving traditionally from lower level to higher level of educations; continuing Education is mainly learning and skill development activity or a certificate program undertaken by employed adults. Continuing Education especially caters to the adults who are beyond the traditional age of college or universities. It includes activities like non certificate training, skill development and personality development programs etc.
Advantages of Continuing/Further Education
Continuing or Further Education provides growth opportunities to working professionals in their respective fields by acquiring skills and certificates. It also provides a chance to pursue courses of personal interests. Further education increases the employability quotient of an employee and improves his social status as well. Online Continuing Education provides an opportunity to working professional who don’t have time to attend regular college.
Importance of Adult Education in National Development
Adult Education is very much important for the development of a Nation as it could seriously improve the productivity and social structure of a nation. It provides opportunities of personal growth, employment, socialization resulting in the nation’s economical growth. Adult Education also leads to high primary enrollments, as educated parents are more inclined to make their children educated.
An educated and skilled adult will be gainfully employed in an organization or is involved in business activities; ultimately contributing to the nation’s economy.
Adult Education also raises the nation’s health and hygiene level and results in higher standards of living; abolishing poverty and misery.
Challenges Faced in Adult Education
Adults have many obligations and responsibilities, making it difficult for them to take out time for educational activities. Some may have responsibility towards family and some may be employed in different sectors. Women who are engaged in everyday household chores may find it difficult to attend education programs.
Lack of proper transport in the area can also act as a hindrance to Adult Education. Apart from that, lack of learning desire, lack of interest, lack of information and absence of required infrastructure and skilled manpower are some of the impediments to adult education.
Some adults may just be shy to join any educational program, because of their age or for the fear of family and friends.
Getting at the root of what is stopping them and finding out the ways to removing their barriers through counseling and other methods will sure make a positive change in their life.
Advantages of Adult Education
- Improved Skills and Knowledge.
- Opportunity to learn and communicate.
- Increase in individual productivity.
- Increases the employability of an adult.
- Provides a lost opportunity to study and obtain a certificate.
- Learning new skills that could be used as means of livelihood.
- Improves general awareness of adults.
- Make the adults more confident and communicative.
- Improves the social fabric of the society.
- Healthy and hygienic living conditions.
- Eradicates poverty by raising employability.
- Gives employees a chance to further progress in their respective fields.
- Gives the women a chance to progress.
- Provides higher salary and career options.
Barriers to Adult Education
- Feeling out of place generally because of the age difference.
- Shortage of time as one has to balance between learning and work.
- Fear of uncertainty, which is absent in regular young students.
- It takes time to adjust to your schedules of studies or learning.
- Sometimes might lack the formal student teacher like interaction; especially in distance learning.
Education For Adults is no less important for adults than it is for children. Children might be the future of a nation, but its present rests in the hands of the youths and the adults of today. Only when the adults are educated, they will be able to safeguard their families, educate their children; prosper and grow adding to the nation’s growth and development. Our goals of sustainable development by 2030 cannot be met if we compromise on the education of our children as well as on the education of adults.