Atinyo Matthew

Atinyo Matthew
Coordinator of Pamoja





Adult Education and Development: 
Which skills and competencies do we need to survive in the future?

Atinyo Matthew: Currently, there is a growing realisation that formal educational systems alone cannot respond to the demands of modern society. Non formal educational practi ces are consequently being increasingly employed to reinforce them. The goal is to reduce to barest minimum the levels of poverty, hunger, disease, marginalisation and exclusion prevailing in society. The provision of effective and relevant literacy and life skills programmes are the principal channels for the attainment of this goal.

In view of the constantly changing nature of the environ ment in which non formal education programmes are undertaken these days, we need a greater vision, dedication, flexibility, tenacity of purpose, and skills to design innovative programmes to enhance lifelong learning. Consequently, key skills and competencies required to survive in the future include:

  • Ability to read, write and compute
    The normal channel for the acquisition of these competen cies is the formal educational system. Non formal education must not only fill gaps that are left from the formal system of acquiring literacy skills. It must also address education and training needs of society in a very holistic manner.
  • ICT skills
    To be able to survive in the future, we must learn to man age the challenges posed by the constantly changing world of ICT. In order to meet these demands, a wide di versity of education programmes and modalities of provi sion are required. Hence, individuals and communities must pursue their learning needs through alternative forms of provision under the broad rubric of non formal education.
  • Ability to adapt rapidly to forces in the environment
    Globalisation and climate change are issues assuming greater concern especially to those of us in developing countries. Skills of adaptation and competence in mitigating their effects on society will be critical for our survival in future. NFE programmes could be an effective means of meeting these needs.

The constant changes in the environment demand that the scope of non formal education will have to change in tandem. Activities of non formal education system must provide avenues through which people can obtain experience. These activities must build competencies in democratic decision making and negotiating, participation, and personal development. Society must be helped to obtain such qualities as commitment, involvement, responsibility, solidarity, democra tic awareness, motivation, initiative, emancipation and em powerment, creativity, respect, tolerance, intercultural awareness, criticism, intellectual independence and self confidence.

How can we learn them?

In the constantly changing and ever shrinking global village that we find ourselves in, learning must become the main preoccupation of each and everyone. The rate of social change is so great that skills acquired become obsolete almost as soon as they are mastered. All the learning theories must be evoked: experiential, social cognitive and all the other theories of learning need to be employed. Additionally, all available methodologies; lectures, workshops, symposia, demonstrations, simulation, etc. need to be used. Preparation of learning materials needs to become a new field of study; an art and a science that must be taught and mastered by all NFE professionals.

Who should teach them?

The setting in which non formal education is undertaken is a critical determinant of the type and methodology which is most effective. Best practices in one context may not be exactly replicated in a different setting. Consequently, trainers of non formal educators need to come from various back grounds. A classic example of this is the means through which illiterates acquired the skills of using mobile phones. It is a wonder to observe the dexterity with which individuals that cannot read or write undertake complex operations on their mobile phones. Another example is to observe persons that have never had any formal education work complicated arithmetic patterns in order to stake their National Lotto. The above illustrate how, in the future, non formal education training will follow the pattern of the traditional African edu cation system in which learners receive training by observing performance of knowledgeable peers.

  • Professional trainers
    In addition there will be a greater need for the training and retraining of trainers in the non formal sector. Non formal education is an integral part of a lifelong learning con cept that ensures that young people and adults acquire and maintain the skills, abilities and dispositions needed to adapt to a continuously changing environment. They can be acquired on the personal initiative of each indivi dual through different learning activities taking place outside the formal educational system. An important part of non formal education is carried out by non govern mental organisations involved in community and youth work. This is where professional NFE educators play a critical role. Academia will also be involved in research to add new knowledge to the body of information available to society.
  • Standardisation
    There is a growing recognition of the need to harmonise the skills and competencies acquired from the formal educational system to those acquired from the non formal system. This can be achieved by standardising the pro cesses and outcomes from both systems. The result will be a seamless merger of formal and non formal education.
  • Mentoring by Expert Practitioners in the field of non-formal education
    In the process of sharing or popularising the new techno logies mentoring can be an effective medium for knowl edge transfer and communication. Mentoring may also be used in such activities as advice and consultation, animation, policy determination and planning, promoting expertise, information services, international relations, research, training courses, and teaching materials de velopment. 
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