Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

Vitalising Adult Continuing Education in the

S. V. Raghunath


Education is a process of imparting knowledge and skills to enable the individual to live with dignity and honour. The crux of education is to know what is not known. Programmes for educating the non-literate adults in the age group of 15-35 were initiated with a view to empowering the common man and enabling him to have access to the opportunity structure created by the state as far as 1968 with the launching of ‘Farmer’s Functional Literacy’. This was the first major initiative of the Government of India implemented through the State Governments, and reputed voluntary organisations in the country. It was in the year 1977 ed by political will of the nation, the National Adult Education Programme was launched to make the illiterate adults in the country functionally literate. Subsequently the Prime Minister’s 20 Point Programme, National Educational Policy 1986 and Programme of Action 1992, National Literacy Mission(1988), Total Literacy Campaign, Sarvashiksha Abhiyan were initiated from time to time in place of the earlier ones so as to suit the declared policies of the political party that came to power in later years.

The objectives of adult education programmes include literacy, functionality, awareness, numeracy, capacity building for ensuring quality implementation of the programmes initiated by the developmental departments. It enables the masses to take active part as equal partners in the democratic set up to work for the progress of the country in realising the avowed objective of transforming the country into a developed nation.

While it is necessary to continue literacy programmes for non-literates, education of the semi-literates the newly educated should also receive equal emphasis in the twenty-first-century. Updating of professional knowledge, citizenship education, health education, empowerment of women, adult education in the new economic policy, research in adult education should receive top priority.

In order to realise the objectives of planned development, the programme of adult education in the twenty-first-century needs to be diversified and comprehensive in nature. Adult education should enable the community as a whole through the process of social change and increased self-confidence to effectively participate in national developlnent ensuring social justice and allround economic development.

It is therefore necessary that the programme should consist of variety of need-­based programmes and meet specific needs of different groups of learners. It is to be perceived as a programme of life-long education as the needs of learning continue to change and expand over a period due to changing socio-political, economic and demographic scenario and improve the quality of life of the people.

Some of the programmes/priorities envisaged for adult education in the new millennium are stated below.

Role of Local Bodies in Administration: The literacy programme needs to be decentralised to give desired results as visualised by the National Policy of Education-1986. The policy emphasised the need to decentralise planning and administration process from district to village level. To make decentralisation possible, the state governments have to play an active role in the process. The programme of adult education should not be seen solely as a centrally sponsored programme. It would be ideal if democratically elected Panchayat Raj institutions are actively involved in this programme. The Panchayats could be given total responsibility to eradicate illiteracy in the area in which they function. But to achieve this objective, the Panchayats have to be provided with necessary academic and technical support, funds and facilities. The smaller the area, the greater would be the scope for people’s participation. When an area is small the programme tends to be more effective and transparent.

With the limited resources available at the disposal of the Government, it is desirable that village school be made the centre of activity, a fulcrum for both formal and non formal/adult education. The school should become a community centre, with an objective to improve the community life. It should address the needs of the people such as welfare, their economic development, recreation, vocational education etc., an adult education teacher may be made responsible to take care of education of both out-of­school children and non-literate adults.

Post - Literacy & Continuing_ Education Programmes: Productivity of the people determines the quality of the society of which they are the members. Society is run by adults who make decisions. Ours is a heterogeneous society with varied socio-cultural and economic ground. The nature and quality of the decisions made by adults directly affect the nature of quality of our life both present and the future. Hence providing opportunities of education to those who have already had formal education at primary or upper primary level is not only desirable but also essential.

Continuing education programmes may be planned to achieve the following learning experiences; to learn and understand new and viable occupations as present skills for jobs become technologically obsolete. The knowledge explosion changes the volume and content of knowledge so fast that one’s knowledge acquired earlier tends to be incomplete and obsolete, unless it is continuously augmented, revised and updated. In progressive, competitive societies, continuous updating and replenishment of knowledge is a necessary condition of survival and perpetual personal development so that every individual may further his intellectual and emotional growth throughout his life.

Education of the Elderly: In view of improved health care, longevity of the people has improved resulting in the growth of senior citizens. By the turn of this century there will be about 300 million senior citizens (those aged 60 and above) in India. These chronologically old people require new competencies and skills to improve their quality of life. There is hardly any programme of adult continuing education which can enrich their lives. Some developing and developed countries have been organising programmes for the elderly. There are schools for the aged in China. The training programme include courses of general, specific and cultural knowledge, research in agriculture and “experience exchange”. “U3A (universities of the third age) programme in some European countries make older persons aware that they are still a part of the society, and that they are contributors and not dependents. In fact there is greater realisation that these human resources with rich experience endowed with skills, knowledge and abilities are to be harnessed.

Emphasis on Women Empowerment: In Nation building it is essential that women assert their rightful position and be powerful socially, psychologically, economically, culturally and politically. Hitherto women have been made to be submissive, subservient allowing men to take all major decisions and lead in all spheres of life. Psychological empowerment necessitates reversal of patriarchal order of doing things. It calls for developing competencies in women to make decisions at personal and societal level and lead their lives as equal partners. It means development of self confidence and self esteem in women which will pave the way for creating an egalitarian society.

Human Rights: The first basic human right to equality is denied by our society. Adult education has to play an important role to address this denial not only of the learners who are the victims but also those who violate this human right. The study and understanding of the 30 articles of human rights will bring home the fact that these articles are being violated every minute of the day.

Development of Scientific Temper: Adult education in the 21st century has to take science and technology to the common people. Practical aspects of the science in common man’s day to day life should be brought home to the people in rural and urban areas so that scientific temper, spirit of enquiry is created for upliftment of those people steeped in superstitions. Universities, NGOs and educational institutions have to play significant role in this direction. The need is to provide adequate support for such programmes so that the message of scientific temper reaches the masses.

Impact of Globalisation: In the new economic policy, structural adjustments are being made. This has put many people out of jobs due to modernisation and automation. Adult Education has now to play a wider role to meet the emerging demand for education, training and retraining of people so that they are in a position to face the competitive labour market.

Unemployed and under employed especially those in the rural sector constitute the largest group among the weaker sections of the society. Adult education should provide skill development and income generating programmes for them. This would be possible if the network of Jana Sikshana Sansthans is expanded and there is a JSS at every Mandal/Block. Skill development programmes entrepreneurial skills have to be provided to the rural masses so that they would opt for self employment instead of migrating to urban centres hunting for jobs, which is becoming a great health hazard and an environmental problem to the society. The workers in the unorganised sector in the urban areas should also be provided with opportunities in training and upgrading their technical and vocational skills to improve their quality of life. They should be educated to understand that they should protect themselves from undue exploitation by vested interests. They should be helped to become self-reliant and competent to solve their own problems.

Role of the Government Departments: The responsibility for control and administration of adult education by and large remains with the Education Department of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. To give adult education a wider role, the other ministries should also share the responsibility. In Thailand most ministries have responsibilities for atleast one component of adult education.

Impetus to Research: Adult education has been undergoing tremendous change in terms of policy, programme and practice during the last two and half decades. These changes at many a time have been undertaken without sufficient feedfrom the field. The evaluation studies have been undertaken for some projects but the suggestions, recommendations of these studies have been ignored while designing the new programmes. The adult education programme is directly related to people and their problems. It can promote self reliance among the people in solving their problems. But these problems could be solved effectively only when action and applied researches are available. The quality and effectiveness of adult education programme depends to a large extent on research and investigation by which it is ed. It is research which can develop alternative models for adult education including literacy. Research alone can give answers to many questions and better insight into problems relating to adult education. Adult education programme should have explicit policy of promoting empirical researches in adult education. The research should cover the broader aspects of adult education conforming only to literacy/post literacy programmes.

Research should be conducted at all levels. It should not be the responsibility of the universities alone. Grass root level organisations should also undertake applied and action researches for which they should be provided with necessary training and financial assistance.

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