Tuesday, August 10, 2010



Adult education is the practice of teaching and educating adults. This often happens in the workplace, through 'extension' or 'continuing education' courses at secondary schools, at a college or university. Other learning places include folk high schools, community colleges, and lifelong learning centers. The practice is also often referred to as 'Training and Development'. It has also been referred to as andragogy (to distinguish it from pedagogy). A difference is made between vocational education, mostly undertaken in workplaces and frequently related to up-skilling, and non-formal adult education including learning skills or learning for personal development.
Educating adults differs from educating children in several ways. One of the most important differences is that adults have accumulated knowledge and experience that can add to or hinder the learning experience. Another difference is that most adult education is voluntary, therefore, the participants are generally better motivated.
Adults frequently apply their knowledge in a practical fashion to learn effectively. They must have a reasonable expectation that the knowledge recently gained will help them further their goals. One example, common in the 1990s, was the proliferation of computer training courses in which adults (not children or adolescents), most of whom were office workers, could enroll. These courses would teach basic use of the operating system or specific application software. Because the abstractions governing the user's interactions with a PC were so new, many people who had been working white-collar jobs for ten years or more eventually took such training courses, either at their own whim (to gain computer skills and thus earn higher pay) or at the behest of their managers.
In the Nigeria, a more general example is that of the secondary schools dropout who returns to school to complete general education requirements. Most upwardly-mobile positions require at the very least a University diploma or equivalent. A working adult is unlikely to have the freedom to simply quit his or her job and go "back to school" full time. Public school systems and community colleges usually offer evening or weekend classes for this reason. In Europe this is often referred to as "second-chance", and many schools offer tailor-made courses and learning programs for these returning learners.
Adult education in Nigeria, as in the British West African territory of the Gold Coast, is almost entirely a matter of literacy campaigns conducted by government departments on the one hand, and extra-mural activity by the country's one university college on the other. This article is concerned mainly with the extra-mural work, although something will be said about the increasingly important problem of bridging the gap between literacy work and university extra-mural education. The institution in 1948 of a university college at Ibadan, the capital of Western Nigeria, was one result of a decision by Britain's wartime government to develop higher education in the Colonies, a decision which led also to the establishment of university colleges in the Gold Coast, East Africa, Central Africa, the Sudan and the West Indies, and of a university in Malaya. These steps were preceded by the appointment of a number of commissions, one of which made recommendations concerning higher education in the Colonies generally, while the others dealt with particular areas, one being West Africa. All the commissions strongly urged that at the university colleges which they proposed should be established there should be extra-mural departments to develop adult education, and except in Malaya this advice was everywhere followed. Several reasons were advanced for these recommendations, and received different emphasis in the different reports. They are worth mentioning briefly, because they indicate the kinds of functions which it was thought university adult education could serve in tropical colonial territories, and provide criteria by which the success of the work subsequently done can be assessed.
One which was stressed in several reports was the necessity for associating the staff and graduates of the new universities with the people of the colonies, in order to prevent their development into an exclusive, and perhaps intellectually arrogant, caste within the community. It was further urged that it was very desirable that the university should be fully aware of the educational needs of its region, and that an active extra-mural department could contribute to this. Thirdly, it was stated that colonial territories contained many adults who possessed the abilities and the interests which would have enabled them to study with profit at universities, but had not had the opportunity to do so, and that extra-mural facilities should be provided for them. Finally, emphasis was laid on the importance of adult education, especially as provided by universities, as a means of equipping citizens for the responsibilities of self-government in colonies approaching independence.
In Nigeria the extra-mural department of the university college was set up in 1949; but before that date several tutors from the Extra-Mural Delegacy of Oxford University had visited both that country and the Gold Coast to see how far opportunities existed for the provision of adult education similar to that sponsored by university extra-mural departments in England. In both countries they found much enthusiasm, and started classes and student groups which later came under the aegis of the university colleges, the report of the tutors being that the quality and keenness of the students made extra-mural work of the traditional kind perfectly possible.

That is way that in recent years, many factors have converged to steadily increase the momentum toward professionalization of the field of adult literacy. Adult education programs are being held to higher standards not only as measured by student outcomes but also in terms of program quality indicators. Given the centrality of teacher competence in both measures of program quality and in learning outcomes, many states are investing in statewide professional development efforts and some are beginning to experiment with various types of competency and credentialing mechanisms.
The goals for professional development in the Summit action agenda include not only promoting professionalization" but also, "creating a comprehensive system of professional development to meet the needs of a diverse profession, and a delivery system [for that development] that includes both degree and non-degree, pre-service and in-service training related to management and instruction . In sum, the professionalization of adult education practitioners is considered by many to be at the core of improving the quality of instruction in adult programs
Progress in improving the quality of instructional practice via professionalization, whether it is through certification, competencies, or accountability mechanisms, must start with a better understanding of the state of professionalism.
Essentially, we wish to know where adult education is as a profession, so we can better decide where to go from here.
Professionalization has been defined as the movement of any field towards some standards of educational preparation and competency.
The term professionalization indicates a direct attempt to
(a) use education or training to improve the quality of practice,
(b) standardize professional responses,
(c) better define a collection of persons as representing a field of endeavor, and
(d) enhance communication within that field
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a professional is as "one who has an assured competence in a particular field or occupation" and a profession as an "occupation or vocation requiring training in the liberal arts or the sciences and advanced study in a specified field". From this perspective adult education is not currently a highly professionalized field. Movement toward a community of adult literacy professionals will require changes on a number of fronts. The ways that adult literacy instructors are educated, certified, trained, inducted into teaching, and continue to learn and be rewarded for continuing professional development all are in need of reform. A. Preservice training and credentialing Adult literacy has no commonly recognized credential or mechanism designed to ensure quality of practice. This absence may be interpreted as an indication that the field of adult education has not yet attained the status of a profession.

Adult education in Nigeria has been apparently much neglected aspect of educational activities in the country. This neglect could be traced to our colonial heritage where the British colonial masters and the early missionaries who pioneered education in the African Continent paid attention only to formal education to train clerks and interpreters in the Government service and commercial houses; and teachers or chatechists in the church. The complication and the problem of organising and administering non-formal education is yet another reason for the neglect.
However, it was in the Third National Development Plan (1975 - 80) that provision was first made in real terms for adult education in the country by the federal government. The aforesaid plan took into focus the establishment of Center for Adult Education for running correspondence and adult education courses and to conduct research into various aspects of adult end non-formal education. opines that the processes of adult learning and teaching as a systematic study are recent innovation and were formerly largely informal activities. With the growth in research interest in the areas, they become more distinctly defined in terms of form, techniques and strategies involved.
Professionalization of Adult education in Nigeria is presently geared towards national development. The objective of the processes of adult education and national development is to get the adults, either as individuals or as a group, to learn and through learning to change their attitude and behaviour. The policy on education states the objectives of adult education as:
1. To provide functional literacy education for adults who have never had the opportunity of any formal education.
2. To provide functional and remedial education for those young people who prematurely dropped out of the formal school system
3. To provide further education for different categories of completers of the formal education system in order to improve their basic knowledge and skills.
4. To provide in-service and on-the-job vocational and professional training for different categories of workers and professionals in order to improve their skills.
5. To give the adult citizens of the country aesthetic, cultural and civic education for public enlightenment.
These objectives have one end in view - to equip the adult with every-thing he needs for life in order to be relevant to his society by helping to solve some of its problems. We have to recognise that development is of man, by man and for man. Man is the master of his destiny and adult education serves to bring about a fundamental change in man´s attitudes and life style. To survive, people must have awareness and to become aware they must be literate. As adult education is faced with the evidence of an appallingly low standard of living which the vast majority of men and women in Nigeria have, despite two and a half decades of national development and development plans, the Federal and State Governments now attempt to ensure that the real targets of development are the human beings who will remain central to all re-definitions and to all revised strategies. Some of the major problems of present day Nigeria are poverty, hunger, indiscipline, unemployment and under-development. To mitigate or solve these problems adult education is important.
The momentum of change in adult education in Nigeria is strongly embedded in the Nigerian national Development Plans of 1970 - 75 and 1975 - 80; which guiding the Federal Government in its national planning process have the following objectives which till date none of them is in place:
1. The building of a united, strong and self-reliant nation.
2. The building of a great and dynamic economy.
3. The building of a just and egalitarian society.
4. The building of a land bright and full of opportunities for all citizens, and lastly,
5. The building of a free and democratic society.
From the foregoing national development objectives, one perceives that the nation cannot be strong when the vast majority of its citizens live in ignorance. For development plans to materialise, participation and commitment of the people is essential. People cannot participate if they are not made politically conscious of the significance of development to them as individuals or as a nation. Illiterate people cannot understand the significance of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), defence and loyalty to the country, educational reforms, health campaigns, privatisation policies, nation-building efforts and of course, self satisfaction and self-reliance. Through adult education. the individual fulfils himself within the framework of his society.
Living in Nigeria is becoming more and more difficultnot because of inflation, not because of armed robbery, not because of the new political system we are experimenting but mainly because the individual Nigerian does not understand himself adequately well and as a result he does not understand his fellowmen". For Nigeria to move meaningfully forward in its economic, social, cultural and political development, its adult population must be educated.

These challenges encountered by those who took adult education as a profession and the challenges have been put in place in such a way that education in the country have been put in place such as what:
1. basic Literacy Programme: This is a one-month programme organised and financed by some Local Government Councils in some states of the Federation. It is held under the co-ordination and supervision of the States´ Ministries of Education.
2. Post Literacy Programme: This is organised by the Ministry of Education in some States of the Federation for completers of Basic Literacy Programmes and drop outs from formal primary schools to upgrade their knowledge to the level of first school leaving certificates.
3. Women Adult Education Programme: This programme is organised by Christian Missionaries and Local Government Councils. The Ministry of Education grants aid to the voluntary organisations to reduce costs. The course is solely designed to improve the services of literate and illiterate women in the society.
4. Distance Education Programme: This program-me is organised by the States´ Ministries of Education and some institution of higher education in the country. It is designed for all those who because of the nature of their age are unable to enrol in the regular or formal educational system. The medium of instruction is by correspondence, radio or television.
5. Sandwich Programme: This is organised by various institutions of higher education in the country for adults who stay in other commitments for most of the year and come into residence in their various schools when they can afford it.
6. Nomadic Education Programme: Nigerian nomads are mostly cattle rearers who do not settle in a place because they have to follow their herds of cattle around in search of grazable pasture. They do not receive formal education. Mobile Education Programme has been established to take care of this unfortunate situation.
Nigeria like most developing countries have placed undue emphasis on formal education while apparently neglecting adult and non-formal education. The present economic development in the African Region compares very unfavourably with levels already attained by developed countries as well as by a number of developing countries in other regions. This is because 65% of the African population are illiterates. Adult Education, though taken by the Nigerian society to be a low-cost area of educational system, but from the point of view of return on investment, it is the most immediately productive and profitable for the national economy.
What seems to be needed more in Nigeria today is a development-oriented non-formal education to ensure the principle of self-reliance both in national and individual terms.
Adult literacy although strictly not within the formal system has a great influence on the quantity and quality of education in the formal system. It should be pursued vigorously. Adult literacy and adult education are necessary to ensure an enlightened government and citizenry, whose insights, activities and decisions are very vital to the cause of education and the achievement of national goals. Thus change in Adult Education in Nigeria is welcome.


Professionalisation has relevant significance in education in that it affects the role of the teacher and his or her pedagogy, which in return affects the student’s ability to learn effectively. It can be defined as the ability to reach students in a meaningful way, developing innovative approaches to mandated content while motivating, engaging, and inspiring young adult minds to prepare for ever-advancing technology. However, this definition does little to exemplify precisely how a professional teacher carries himself or herself. Due to the growing autonomy being given to educators, professionalism remains one of the most influential attributes of education today. Teacher professionalism contains three essential characteristics, competence, performance, and conduct, which reflect the educator’s goals, abilities, and standards, and directly impact the effectiveness of teaching through the development of these qualities.

In conclusion, a completed definition of teacher professionalism far exceeds the simple notion that a teacher be prepared in a certain manner. A professional is trained to handle all situations, as most episodes in the classroom require quick thinking. Also, teacher professionalism extends beyond one’s ability to understand content; the educator must discover if the students are being reached in an effective way. With the role of “teacher” becoming more autonomous, an educator must be competent in their studies, perform well under the eye of the administration and parents, while maintaining good conduct to facilitate quality communication.


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  2. The students resided together irrespective of their social standing. However, several temples and community centers regularly took the role of schools. Teolinda Gersao

  3. this is very nice articles and i love it

  4. Thanks for this information I really need it nice one

  5. Good write up but u need to go further and mentions national and international organizations that are in adult education