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Adult education policies
by Mandakini Pant - Saturday, 19 April 2014, 6:47 PM

Dear Friends

 There has been a significant shift in the international policy discourse on adult education. During post Second World War period, during 50’s and early 60’s, literacy was recognized as fundamental to individual development. The focus was primarily on imparting basic literacy skills of reading and writing. During late 60’s and early 70’s human capital model of education was advocated that perceived education as one of the key inputs for economic development. Concept of functional literacy was proposed which emphasized the interrelationships between literacy and economic development. In later part of 70’s a broader concept of functional literacy was evolved which is still in vogue.  The broader connotation incorporates divergent human concerns and a range of people’s function encompassing the whole life. In fact the seed of lifelong education can be traced to this expanded notion of functional literacy. In the 70’s Paulo Friere’s radical approach to literacy influenced policy on adult education. In this approach acquisition of literacy skills of reading, writing and arithmetic are not seen as an end in itself, but as a means to create conditions for acquisition of critical consciousness and take necessary action to challenge and change it. Adult education policy now underscored transformative potential of learning. During 80’s and 90’s growing demands created by new technologies, information media for increased knowledge, skills, and understanding further changed the thrust of adult education.  Now adult education emphasized not merely the ability to read, write and count but also broad set of information processing competencies and multiplicity of skills. The international conferences from Jomtien to Dakar, CONFINTEA V in Hamburg have emphasized not only on provision of equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults but also for integrated lifelong learning programmes, which include formal, non-formal and informal learning throughout the lifespan of an individual.

 A significant aspect of shifts in policy discourse is the partnership of public (state), private corporate/industrial/market institutions) and civil society to reach the educational need of marginalized and underprivileged adults. With the neo liberalized state policies, the public funds for education, in particular adult education is declining. The policies of universalization of elementary or even secondary education or adult education are facing significant impediments to implementation. Alternative models of social service delivery are required to improve the distribution and delivery of education. Different types of providers can meet the demand collaboratively. A pragmatic approach in order to enable more effective education provision for adults requires different forms of partnership between the lead actors providing the educational services for adults.

 But will this new approach be able to extend educational services to all marginalized adult citizens? Friends, I look forward to your contributions on partnership of public (state), private (corporate/industrial/market institutions) and civil society to reach the marginalized and underprivileged adults in the context of your sector where you are currently working.

  •  Are partnerships desirable?
  • What are the constraints to establishing a triadic partnership?
  • What are the most appropriate roles for the government, the private sector and the civil society sector in enabling environments that enables delivery of educational programmes to marginalized adult citizens?

 Looking forward to your reflections

 With best wishes