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Adult Basic Learning & Education (ABLE)

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  • Don Osborn
    The following study commissioned by the Swedish International Development Authority (Sida) s Education Division may be of interest: Lifelong Learning A new
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 13 1:10 PM
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      The following study commissioned by the Swedish International
      Development Authority (Sida)'s Education Division may be of interest:

      Lifelong Learning
      A new momentum and a new opportunity for Adult Basic Learning and
      Education (ABLE) in the South.

      It has a few passing references to bilingual education projects, but
      not much depth on multilingual topics. One passage (pp. 42-3) is
      about as far as they go on the topic from what I saw:
      "There are many problems associated with evaluating ABE [Adult Basic
      Education], and especially adult literacy efforts, among others:
      * literacy in bilingual and multilingual contexts entails different
      and more complex challenges than in linguistically homogenous ones;"

      For more than that one apparently needs to go elsewhere. Still an
      interesting report. Appended below is info from Eldis (ref. seen on
      the SANTEC newsletter) giving more background.

      Don Osborn

      Lifelong learning: a new momentum and a new opportunity for adult
      basic learning and education (ABLE) in the South

      'Learning communities' the key to education and lifelong learning for
      Torres, R-M. / Swedish International Development Authority (Sida),

      This paper is the result of a study commissioned by Sida on the
      status and current trends in adult basic education in Africa, Asia,
      Latin America and the Caribbean. The study included a review of
      relevant documentation in several languages, an electronic survey
      with key respondents throughout the world, personal interviews and a
      few field visits. The process also included a five-week bilingual on-
      line forum on the topic, with over 300 subscribers from all over the

      Some specific findings include:

      * terminological and conceptual chaos in the field of adult
      education; continued reduction of adult basic education to literacy,
      and continued narrow perceptions of literacy as a simple, elementary
      * discrepancies in declarations and commitments by international
      agencies, and major gaps between rhetoric and practice
      * new information but little new knowledge or innovation
      * low quality of research as an issue both in the South and in the
      * continued weak documentation and evaluation of experience, but
      promising trends
      * increasing pressure for quantitative research and
      empirical "evidence" on the cost-effectiveness and positive impact of
      adult education and learning
      * inconclusive evidence, divergent conclusions and recommendations to
      countries in the South by researchers and advisers.

      The report also highlights several matters of concern:

      * while non-formal education (NFE) is increasing in demand and supply
      in the North, it continues to be associated with remedial education
      for the poor in the South
      * the learning needs of adults are sidelined or ignored altogether in
      recent international development initiatives, and education policy
      recommendations and cost estimations (e.g. Millennium Development
      Goals, Education for All, World Bank's Fast Track Initiative)
      * the age of potential adult learners is becoming shorter at a time
      when life is becoming longer, and the gender concern is applied only
      to women, thus leaving "older adults" and men out of the target
      population for educational purposes
      * poor children and their parents are being forced to compete in
      terms of educational priorities
      * arguments that conclude that adult (out-of-school) education may be
      more cost-effective than primary (school) education may lead to adult
      and non-formal education being seen as a substitute for schooling in
      meeting children's basic learning needs

      In light of this, the report recommends that policy initiatives
      foster a 'learning community', which includes:

      * state/governments having a key supporting role and a specific
      compensatory role vis-à-vis disadvantaged communities
      * 'education' being viewed broadly and 'learning' being put at the
      * intergenerational and peer learning being valued and emphasised
      * learning systems being developed at the local level
      * the focus being on groups, institutions, relationships and networks
      rather than on isolated individuals

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