Outi Perähuhta comments on the article “The keys to a peaceful and prosperous Africa”
Outi Perähuhta, Advisor, Finnish Refugee Council
The Column above is inspiring. I deeply share Wollie’s view on adult learning’s potentials to address a wide range of development issues. My direct professional experience is proving his remarks are actual and validated by evidence.
Participatory and learner-centred implementation and contents tailored to learners’ daily context and life are crucial to successful adult learning. I would also add well trained peer facilitators, recurrent study-circle monitoring and learners’ ownership as additional conducive factors to enhance participation and minimize learners’ drop-out. Any time our literacy programmes have adequately met the demand for learning, study-circles have kept growing spontaneously, with little or no external support, and the acquisition of skills by learners sustained.
Adult learning can also have a great complementary role for other development interventions; for instance, we have recorded added value results when functional adult literacy complemented livelihoods (e.g. micro-credit and agriculture) and vocational education programmes.
It has been proven (and adult education practitioners have observed) that literacy and numeracy equip people to increase their income, improve their livelihoods and thereby escape from chronic poverty, literate parents and mothers are in a better position to help their children to receive an education, thus getting more chances to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Education enables mothers to improve their children’s nutrition and health. Educated families are more open to innovation, more likely to use natural resources sustainably and more likely to show environmental concern. Literacy and education also play a vital role in promoting human rights, tolerance to diversity and conflict prevention. Besides, adult literacy contributes to increased self-esteem, empowerment, which are key to the development of any individual. Finally, it is worth highlighting that functional literacy is nowadays essential for people’s ability to use information and communications technologies, especially mobile devices, which offer further potential to access information, communicate with others and promote innovative solutions to development challenges.
I also agree that expanding the outreach of formal schooling, especially of poor quality, cannot be the only strategy to achieve universal literacy. The 2018 World Development Report (LEARNING to Realize Education’s Promise) asserts that children’s unpreparedness as they start school is one of the four reasons of the present crisis of education. Investing in the education of adults has therefore a tremendous positive impact on the education of their children.
If we agree, as we do, that adult education and functional literacy are central to development – and to the humanitarian-development nexus -, we should vibrantly stand up for the recognition of this role in front of governments and development partners and address the following questions:
How to get the potential positive impact of the adult education in the crisis of the education more recognized and acknowledged also within the education sector?
Links to the AED 85/2018 publication in three languages: English, French, Spanish
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