Editorial

“There is no other comparable professional journal in the world that provides such broad and comprehensive coverage around themes of Adult Education in theory and practice and their relation to issues of development policy.”This conclusion was reached in the external evaluation of our journal “Adult Education and Development”. An article on the report is included in this issue. The statement is certainly cause for pride in our work and a job well done. But it is also reason for us to renew our efforts to live up to the positive evaluation that we have received. For this we need your support.

The aim of an evaluation, of course, is not simply to offer praise, but also to make recommendations. One of the recommendations we were given was to devote each separate issue of the journal to a single topic, or at least to a restricted number of central topics. This seems to be a sensible proposal considering that it would allow for a more systematic and representative treatment of each theme, and would accordingly lend each issue a distinctive character.

But it is not an easy recommendation to implement. Adult Education in practice, which our journal aims to document, is a highly complex process. It almost always involves the blending of many different goals through a variety of different instruments and methods. This integral approach is a cornerstone of our work, a process which takes place within the complex realities of life where problems and issues interconnect with one another. If, while analyzing their mutual situation, the members of a women’s group in Mali come to the realization not only that they are being forced to walk increasing distances to find sufficient firewood because the lands around their village are being deforested, but also that ongoing deforestation is causing the rivers in the surrounding area to run dry for months at a time, making their fields more and more barren, and if their analysis leads them to plant trees and build energy-saving stoves to counteract the problem, an account of their activities might be considered just as much an example of women’s education as environmental education, skills acquisition to improve living conditions, or an experience in the implementation of the REFLECT approach. And if at the same time the members of the group discuss the difficulties they face in securing land tenure and begin to examine possibilities for changing traditional land ownership and inheritance systems, the experience might also be classified under the heading of social policy. For each contribution about such concerted experiences in learning and taking action, we have to decide which theme stands out the most, or which aspect we particularly want to emphasize. In this respect there is always a subjective element in the decision.

For the present issue we have selected three central themes which themselves often have direct bearing on one another:

  • the relevance and role of e-learning (including modern teaching materials and distance learning programmes)
  • climate change – the role of youth and Adult Education, and
  • women’s empowerment

Adult Education efforts which seek to empower women or to promote ecologically sustainable ways of life and work using all possible proven methods, while at the same time following innovative approaches, are not being discussed here for the first time. And they will certainly appear on the agenda again and again, because they are key focuses in the work of our field.

Another recommendation made by the evaluation report was that we encourage feedback and interaction with our readers and open up more space in our journal for dialogue. This recommendation is very much in line with our own ideas and intentions. Accordingly, we gladly take this opportunity to invite you to participate in dialogue over the contents of the journal, and to send us your questions, comments, suggestions, and to share your experiences with us. We will also be designing space for reader interaction on our website.

Under the direction of Heribert Hinzen for more than two decades, “Adult Education and Development” has established a strong international reputation. As his successor, I would like to thank him for leading the journal to its present position of high standing. The countless details involved in producing a publication such as ours remain in the reliable hands of Gisela Waschek. Special thanks to her as well for her expert editorial support. Finally, I would like to thank the new Board of Editors for their active cooperation in organizing the present issue: Roland Schwartz, the new director of DVV International and publisher of our journal, Ana Agostino of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), Carolyn Medel Añonuevo of UNESCO’s Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), and also Heribert Hinzen, who continues to support us from DVV International’s regional project in distant Laos. Their input has been invaluable, and I have enjoyed working with them.

Michael Samlowski