Adult education is an important part of their active participation in society.
Access to education and learning for adults is a fundamental aspect of the right to education and facilitates the exercise of the right to participate in political, economic, cultural, artistic and scientific life. The Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning looks at adult education as “a powerful concept for fostering ecologically sustainable development, for promoting democracy, justice, gender equity, and scientific, social and economic development, and for building a world in which violent conflict is replaced by dialogue and a culture of peace based on justice. Adult learning can shape identity and give meaning to life. (UNESCO)
In a changing world it is very unlikely that education, knowledge, and skills acquired in the years at school, will be sufficient to be able to cope with the new challenges.
I do not believe an engineer or IT professional who graduated 30 years ago, without a continuous professional development, can withstand in a competitive market. But I do not support the idea early retirement for reasons such as “nobody wants me anymore”.
I don’t agree with the idea of mandatory education for adults as some countries, such as Norway, is trying to implement.
I do, however, encourage a lifelong continuous education where political leaders, employers, and educational institutions collaborate to provide this opportunity for everyone.
All countries have different forms of regulated education systems and specialized institutions dealing with adult education and this is a good thing.
The question is, how do we convince adults to attend these courses on their own initiative and with confidence that they will have a lot to gain. Could the following reasons encourage them?
- To be able to teach their own children/grandchildren
The school system has never been perfect and children do need to learn through extracurricular activities. An adult in the family who studies proved, in many situations, an excellent example for children in that family.
- Keeping a Sharp Mind
A permanent challenge for the brain helps maintaining a state of good mental health. Is never too late to discover new things.
- Enlarging the knowledge horizon
I’m not just referring to professional knowledge here. I have met experts in their fields who are at a venerable age and started to learn a foreign language to be able to communicate with their colleagues from other countries. They discovered new things and commend their value because they understand better “how they all work”.
- More education – more involvement
It has been shown that individuals who have neglected their education are much less involved in the community, because they do not understand the importance of the work and the benefits they may draw from it. The more people get involved in community activities, the more chances they have to a positive change in their lives.
- Education helps people to accept the differences
The same way a lack of involvement in community activities creates a range of negative feelings towards authorities and public institutions, the lack of education can make people ignorant and disrespectful of others.
This can create serious conflicts between people of different ethnic or religious orientations. Learning about each other might be the only way of avoiding these conflicts.
- Getting involved in the world around them
We should not just divide our lives between work and home. Participating in adult education courses is meant to create new opportunities by learning new things. This new knowledge acquired will be the catalyst for a possible major change in the life of the person. I recently saw how a famous neurosurgeon changed his whole life and profession after graduating with a degree in theology. Isn’t that amazing? I will never forget the great happiness on his face.
- Development of new professional skills
For some adults, the idea of going back to school is synonymous with something extremely unpleasant. They always have in mind their past as students where they had to study according to those huge textbooks and memorise thousands of formulas and definitions.
From the beginning, it must be said that this will not happen again and the learning style and requirements will be completely different from what they knew. A demonstration would be extraordinarily effective.
I am concerned about the way this education is done and its efficiency. There are many examples of useless courses both through their content and the formalism these courses are treated as.
“Why is adult education important?” by UNESCO
“Importance of Adult Education: Never Stop Learning” by Nick Tomasovic
“Adult Education: Why You Need It and What You Need To Know” by Andrianes Pinantoan