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:
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.
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