Henner Hildebrand

In 2000, a number of questions of importance for IIZ/DVV were raised in the discussions between IIZ/DVV and its partners which provide academic training for adult educators in Africa. How is training provision developing at tertiary institutions, and how do they promote AE as a field of study and work which can help to combat poverty and encourage self-help? Do the types of support provided by IIZ/DVV for the training of adult educators need further development? Curriculum development, institutional arrangements such as the length of courses, the role and nature of course field work and research, extramural learning, and assessment of constantly changing practice in the field of adult education, were regular elements in the discussions with partners. Topics such as these were addressed at a workshop held in Gaborone in January 2001, which focused on networked exchange of information and joint materials development. The following paper reports the opening remarks by the IIZ/DVV speaker, Henner Hildebrand, and the outcome of the meeting.

Past and Future Aspects of the IIZ/DVV Project "Initial and Inservice Training of Adult Educators in Africa"

Introduction to the Workshop and its Objectives

The training of adult educators is synonymous with IIZ/DVV’s initial approach to the development of adult education in Africa, and continues to be critical to our support strategy. This support is part of IIZ/DVV’s commitment to poverty alleviation and promotion of self-help for the poor.

Training began in 1969 in Germany, was extended in 1974 to Cameroon, and then spread to Anglophone countries. The aim was always to support the training of practitioners, and thereby to improve the practice of development-oriented adult education. Scholarships were provided for certificate and diploma-level students, and the support for field work sought to establish relationships between courses and practical work.

IIZ/DVV did not respond directly to early needs for closer collaboration between course developers and providers, most probably because its support for the regional university network of the African Association for Literacy and Adult Education (AALAE) was supposed to cover this.

In the early 1990s, IIZ/DVV maintained within its scholarship programme partnerships with adult education departments and institutes in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho. In Uganda our partnership with the Institute of Adult and Continuing Education (IACE) at Makerere University was part of our country programme.

The administration of scholarship funds was in the hands of the university partners: IIZ/DVV had little information on selection practices or recipients of grants, who in turn generally knew nothing of IIZ/DVV and did not develop a relationship with us.

Within IIZ/DVV, questions were asked concerning grants for government-sponsored students, the inclusion or exclusion of NGO staff, and whether adult education was becoming a university career and/or had relevance for the development sector. Tracer studies were therefore carried out in Sierra Leone, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

In the mid-1990s, three evaluation teams were commissioned by IIZ/DVV to review its support approach to the tertiary sector of adult education. Visits to all university partners in Africa led to recommendations regarding scholarship administration and promotion of adult education as a field of study.

The summary evaluation report by Prof. Paul Fordham (AED No.51, Training Adult Educators in African Universities, p. 199) concluded that the scholarship programme was exceptional and had a beneficial impact, and that many courses would not exist without IIZ/DVV support. The report stressed, however, that studies ought to be linked to local practice. Since universities tended to overlook field assignments – not least for financial reasons – IIZ/DVV grants would make a crucial contribution to overcoming this unfortunate development.

The report further observed, for example, that in East Africa:

  • there had been too little monitoring of the programme by IIZ/DVV in the past: monitoring should in future include both consideration of adult education concepts and principles, and discussion of aims and types of training which responded to changes in society
  • there was a need for staff development and team building in most institutions
  • learning materials were in short supply
  • action-oriented practical research should play in greater role in training
  • the development of revised curricula (possibly through national/regional workshops) should take into account the needs of potential employers and the relevance for the target groups

Overall, it was recommended that a monitoring and evaluation system, including principles for the promotion of the sector and selection criteria for scholarships, should be designed jointly with our partners. Regular monitoring should take at least two forms: the involvement of local coordinators, and annual contact by staff of IIZ/DVV, i.e. staff from Bonn or from a project office, or short-term consultants.

Prof. Paul Fordham proposed that IIZ/DVV should begin a new phase with a more selective, focused and variable approach, and that IIZ/DVV should develop the idea of partnership.

Some of the social and technical questions raised by the evaluation and relating to the management of the scholarship programme were subsequently tackled by IIZ/DVV.

In cases such as Tanzania and Swaziland, where the quality and impact of training were apparently in doubt and the relationship of the studies to the development of adult education was in question, suspension of cooperation was suggested and later implemented by IIZ/DVV.

Several aspects of our cooperation called for regular review and dialogue. These related to the selection criteria for scholarships, the attachments and field research offered to students, and recommendations for collaboration with adult education course providers. However, despite the personal commitment of IIZ/DVV staff, it proved difficult to devote as much attention as necessary to these areas because of staff reductions at the Institute from 1997.

In November 1999, Prof. Frank Youngman sent us his article “Training the Post-CONFINTEA Adult Educator”, (AED 54, p. 285), in which he proposed establishing a project for the development of appropriate training materials for Africa and an Africa Region network of institutions responsible for the training of adult educators with Internet linkage at its core.

Around the same time I submitted a discussion paper to my colleagues in Bonn in which I proposed a review of the objectives and instruments of the “Initial and Further Training of Adult Educators” project, and of its main component, the scholarship programme. I suggested that the promotion of subregional and regional, and subsequently intraregional, dialogue between tertiary institutions training adult educators should focus initially on questions of curricula, institutional arrangements with regard to length and organization of studies, function and type of field work, and assessment of changing practice in the field of adult education.

Because of considerable constraints at the Institute caused by a transversal evaluation and the need to cope with drastic cuts in our budget, it was only mid-way through 2000 that we were able to resume our discussions. Then, however, things moved fast. Dr. Hanno Schindele wrote to all partners informing them of our wish to reorient our support scheme. Mention was made of regional cooperation, coordination and dialogue, and development of practice-oriented and needs-oriented teaching and learning materials.

Responses by partners yielded clear indications as to their interests and needs, among which were the writing of structured course materials for distance education, the development of in-depth textbooks, e.g. for Bachelor’s and Master’s courses, and dialogue between and upgrading of staff.

In September 2000, we agreed with Prof. Frank Youngman to hold a first joint workshop with all partners, organised by the Department of Adult Education, Botswana, in Gaborone. At the International Conference on Lifelong Learning, Higher Education and Active Citizenship of the University of the Western Cape in October 2000 in Cape Town, we were able to hold discussions with some delegates on programme items and logistics.

Our intention was to invite all our partners to this first meeting, including those to whom we provide support other than scholarship funds, as is the case in Ethiopia and Uganda. We also asked a staff member of the Pan-African Association for Literacy and Adult Education (PAALAE) to attend. PAALAE is planning an adult education course in Senegal, and his invitation reflected IIZ/DVV’s strong interest in promoting the training of adult educators in Francophone countries.

We have come a long way, literally speaking, in order to assemble for three days here in Gaborone to deliberate on two possible new directions:

  • regional cooperation, coordination and dialogue between IIZ/DVV partner institutes/departments in Africa based on an electronic network, and
  • the development of teaching and learning materials. There is a need to improve the availability of materials for adult education training courses, especially through improved exchange of existing materials and through cooperative production of new materials. It is envisaged that the proposed network would facilitate this.

Our discussions will involve extensive exchange of information about:

  • new developments in adult education as a field of study
  • the vanishing of certificate courses from University agendas
  • the demand for degree courses
  • the change from full-time to part-time provision
  • the role of distance education
  • trends in outreach programmes
  • learning by students through field work
  • the need for outcome research into adult education practice, and
  • the significance of policy development for adult education

Overall, the aim of this meeting is to produce an overall plan for electronic networking and joint course and materials development, and an action plan for 2001-2002.

Outcome of the Meeting

The meeting was held from 30 January to 1 February 2001. The Department of Adult Education of the University of Botswana in Gaborone hosted the meeting, which was attended by partners from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. In addition to the customary benefits of informal discussions, and the pleasure of seeing old friends and making new ones, the temperature of almost 40 degrees outside the conference building encouraged us to work intensively and productively. During the working sessions, we collated and discussed the wide range of expectations, needs and concerns relating to the future exchange of information and materials, and to joint materials development.

Two fundamental agreements were reached. Firstly, plans were made to set up a website during the first half of 2001 to facilitate the exchange of information, materials and research. The address of the website can be obtained from Wolfgang Leumer at iiz-dvv@iafrica.com or can be looked up at www.iiz-dvv.de. Access to the website will not be restricted to IIZ/DVV partners, but will provide a forum for the training of adult educators in Africa.

Secondly, the discussion of the objectives and arrangements for joint development and production of teaching and learning materials was guided by the recognition that 95% of the textbooks currently used make no reference to African contexts. There was unanimous interest in going a good way to plugging this huge gap by publishing, for the first time, an African series on training adult educators. It was acknowledged that such joint action should not be pursued at the cost of capacity building for the development of local materials which takes account of local needs and uses and strengthens local languages. Indeed, it is anticipated that the appearance of African basic texts on adult education will inspire national and local discourse. The textbooks are to be pitched at a level which meets the needs of teaching staff, but is also comprehensible as reading material for students on diploma and degree courses. Priorities were set for the order of appearance of titles by reference to the newly planned range of subjects in AE courses at the University of Botswana. A Series Editorial Board was selected, composed of six members and headed by Prof. Frank Youngman, to resolve the many conceptual and organizational questions relating to the production of the books. Contact can be made at youngman@mopipi.ub.bw.

Prospects for the Project

Since the Fordham evaluation, it has been apparent from the discussions between IIZ/DVV and its partners that our previous focus on supporting the university training sector by granting scholarships and providing specialist literature for partners’ libraries was in danger of overlooking other ways of strengthening the sector. The two actions agreed in Gaborone will facilitate other approaches, such as joint curriculum development and materials development, professional dialogue and staff development. From a different point of view, we shall need to explore the implications for adult education as a field of study of the trend towards degree courses in university training for adult educators, and the concurrent expansion of provision at certificate and diploma level by non-university institutions (which can be seen in Uganda and Namibia).