Botswana Conference

The Training of Adult Educators: Experiences and Expectations – Pointers, Concerns and Reflections


Botswana Conference


The Wider Context

In 2000 an important international development agenda was established which had major implications for the field of adult education. The Dakar Framework for Action committed the international community to reach Education for All (EFA) via six goals, two of them directly important for the field of (youth and) adult education and training, one stressing the improvement of the quality of all education:

  • Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programmes;
  • Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults;
  • Improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.

All of this calls for strong political will, an immense provision of facilities, the availability of a magnitude of materials, and the training of many more staff.

The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG – 2000) focus not only on poverty alleviation, but also on universal primary education, gender equality, environmen tal sustainability and reduction of HIV/AIDS. As education, training and learning for children, youth and adults are prime instruments for capacity building and human resources development, they are directly connected to the attainment of these goals.

The latest Global Monitoring Report on EFA (GMR – 2005) stresses again that achievements in all areas of education, in a quantitative and qualitative perspec tive, are still far from reaching the stated goals in most countries. The GMR for 2006 will look at adult literacy within basic and continuing education.

The Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education As sociation (IIZ/DVV) has as one of its main mandates to support adult education structures in the so-called developing and transforming countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. Important principles are a concern for partnership, a clear development orientation, and the perspective of lifelong learning for all. Areas of cooperation are related to capacity building and training, materials and media, research and evaluation, infrastructural support, advocacy and lobbying. Learning from each other is strengthened through information, consultation and exchange.

Lifelong learning has become the overarching principle for education and training at all levels and in all forms. This includes continuing education and skills training provision for youth and adults after, alongside and outside primary and secondary schools. Lifelong learning is not only a concept, it calls at the same time for policies, legislation and financing of an educational system and structures – including formal, non-formal and informal adult basic and continuing education. To achieve this re quires modes of organisation, management and financing of adult education provid ers that enable and allow flexible and cost-effective delivery of their services.

Capacity Building and Training

The training of adult educators is of similar importance to the training of teachers for schools. Trained adult educators need up-grading of their skills or re-training from time to time. For this reason, it is necessary to support the organisational struc tures and the professional capacities of education and training providers. Through doing this, adult education and learning can contribute to the development goals mentioned above.

There is a need to reflect on the experiences in recent years and to learn from them. We have to find new answers to new and sometimes older questions. And we have to look at where we are in the light of the MDG goals and EFA priorities.

Re-thinking and Programming

IIZ/DVV is currently in a process of re-thinking its Training of Adult Educators Programme / Training of Trainers (TOT), which we have been conducting together with partners in several countries, mainly in Africa, for a long time. At present, it essentially consists of a scholarship component and the development of teaching and learning materials, especially in cooperation with universities.

During the conference in Cape Town, we want to share with colleagues and partners where we think we are and prepare for future programmes, thus clarify ing where we want to reach. To facilitate this process, we have commissioned the preparation of six surveys in the African and Asian sub-regions in two directions:

  • the training of adult educators in institutions of higher education
  • the training of adult educators outside higher education

We assume that the discussion of their findings, the reflection of the needs for the future and of the expectations of all concerned will help us considerably. In this light we want to present some pointers and questions. They were written by IIZ/ DVV colleagues in preparation for this conference, prior to receiving the results of the studies which are going to be presented.

Pointers and Questions

Let us start with some concerns related to our common interventions:

1. On the policy level of adult education within lifelong learning, should there be advocacy and support for more and better training of adult educators and TOT programmes? Do providers and training institutions have to engage themselves in this process?

2. How could it be better ensured that training on the academic and nonacademic levels is related to the needs of the labour market, thus creating job opportunities for adult educators?

3. Are academic institutions legitimate providers to train adult educators, as well as non-governmental and non-formal training agencies? Should they supplement each other and have regular exchange between them in order to reach a synergetic impact?

4. Should national and/or regional networks of TOT providers be supported in order to exchange views and experiences, to enhance learning from each other and to lobby for better support by governments and donors?

5. If there is need, how could international and interregional exchange be organised in the form of study tours, exposure visits, seminars, conferences etc. to improve the capacity of trainers of adult educators, teachers and students?

6. Should highly qualified and experienced training institutions be selected as proposed service centres for their respective regions? Could this also be done in cooperation with specialised organisations in the fields of materials and media, research and evaluation?

When looking at the training process, the following questions could be taken into consideration:

7. Do teaching curricula have to better balance theory and practice, includ ing field studies, research projects and practical work assignments in the courses?

8. Are the main categories of subjects to be included in most programmes methodology of learning, professional knowledge and social competencies?

9. Do teaching methods have to be participatory, creative and innovative, and should teaching contents be based on practical examples?

10. Do the training courses have to link formal and non-formal patterns of learn ing and teaching? Have the time frame and mode of teaching and learning to be adjusted to the particular needs of the learners?

11. Which of the modern forms of teaching and learning can be taken into con sideration, e.g. e-learning, internet, virtual university, distance education?

12. How can teaching and learning materials, in printed or audio-visual form, be locally more appropriate and take the particular situation, needs and cultural context of the learners better into account?

13. How can it be ensured that teaching personnel in adult education institutions regularly take part in continuing education activities in order to up-date their knowledge and to improve their performance?

14. How can it be ensured that there is close cooperation between respective institutions in the development of courses, curricula and teaching materials in order to save energy and funds?

Issues for a New Proposal

Within the next three months, IIZ/DVV will have to draft a new TOT proposal for another 3-year period to its funding Ministry (BMZ). This proposal will certainly reflect the new strategy of IIZ/DVV. However, there are many areas which need to be taken into consideration, perhaps too many, taking into account the limitations of funding sources. In this context, we need clarification on points 1-14 (expressed as “concerns”), and in addition on the following questions:

15. How could national and regional IIZ/DVV programmes in Africa and Asia, which include capacity building and training, be related to a more global TOT programme?

What does this mean for the two main categories of training through academic and non-academic institutions?

16. Which types of training provision are most successful and best adapted to needs in their respective countries/regions and should therefore be extended?

17. How can support for partner programmes be improved and better harmo nized with and/or without contributions from IIZ/DVV and other regional or international agencies?

Source: Adult Education and Development, Numer 64, 2005, pp. 65 –72

Adult Education and Development


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