Posted by on March 12, 2019

Balázs Németh comments on the article “Impact beyond the tests: adult education that makes a real difference”

Dr. Balázs Németh – Associate Professor in Adult Education a the University of Pécs

I presume that it is necessary to put the role and impact of adult education into the focus of discussion on the benefits of learning with adults. This above indicated article highlights a specific aspect of the role and impact of adult education for members of vulnerable groups of adults who may have to meet a non-typical form of education, moreover, showing attention and care in order to include such people in the provision of a rather humanistic approach in learning, exploration development of  certain skills and competencies like, for example, learning skills.

The core question regarding the article, and its two examples on two persons with learning difficulties, strongly underline the revision existing approaches to the use and benefits of regular tests in adult education. In my understanding, testing in adult learning has limitations and its use may not support the development of adult learning for the purpose of community integration, socialization, employment, or even of joy, positive attitudes, understanding and empathy.

This article is reflecting, I presume, the unlimited force of adult education in case it is supported by full engagement, conscious social attention and the claim the educator in the programme has  simply aim to support and motivate the learner holding difficulties to cover up them and try helping the learner to reduce or even to eliminate those barriers to effective learning.

But one has to recognise that beyond the personal impact, there is an organisational condition, namely, the place of adult education ought to bring in good examples of learners having been supported by effective teaching and learning methods embedded into a good climate of knowledge transfer where the learner is put into the centre. An additional element here is to work with smaller groups where there is more time for discussion and dialogue. The group-factor, however, plays an essential role for the sake of motivation and inclusion.

Those two persons with different backgrounds have shown that they both experienced the very humanistic mission of institution and its organisation which combined teaching and the development of knowledge and skills of the two persons to strengthen their personality, trust, self-esteem together with a stronger belief in others which resulted in the positive impact of cemented self-motivation to come and emphasize the double wheel: to learn for work and to work and perform for understanding. This twofold perspective brings back the evergreen perspectives of Freire on matters to really influence the role and impact of adult education. It has to be openly support learners wanting to participate and change through learning in order to be the part of change and not to suffer it only.

The Catawba Valley Community College has provided such a positive example that it reminds us that adult education can make a real difference for those who have collected a rather bad memory upon public education both at elementary and at high-school levels. This College has formulated a humanistic policy and programme by which it could effectively help adult learners with difficulties integrate into their communities and signalled that no one is left behind. Such an article teaches us in higher education that knowledge transfer has to work in accordance with social goals and attention.

Links to the AED 85/2018 publication in three languages: EnglishFrenchSpanish
Estos son los links para acceder a la publicación en tres idiomas: InglésFrancésEspañol
Voici les liens vers la publication en trois langues: Anglais FrançaisEspagnol

Para español favor usar google translator en los casos en que el artículo no está traducido al español

Veuillez utiliser google translator pour traduire les articles qui ne sont pas en français


  1. Chanell Butler Morello
    March 13, 2019

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    Thank you Dr. Balázs Németh for your very thoughtful feedback!

  2. winston Lawrence
    March 18, 2019

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    The article “Impact beyond the tests; adult education that makes a real difference “ by Ms Butler -Morello not only highlights the rich diversity of adult education programs but also a significant challenge. Adult education activities are quite varied. Indeed, some may focus mainly on basic literacy while others may be more wholistic and dynamic. Ms Butler- Morello’s programme seems appropriately more of the latter type.
    The programme adequately described the important element of learner centeredness where students are able to identify their own needs, meet those needs through supportive programming, and demonstrate their capabilities through appropriate use of formal and informal evaluation methods. It seems to me this is what true adult education is about – responding to the needs of adult learners and empowering them to demonstrate their abilities in ways that are congruent to their learning styles and abilities.
    A major challenge nonetheless, is the fact that in contemporary state and corporate funding policies, Adult Basic Education (ABE) agencies (and others) are not generally given many options of how they will show “progress” of their students. Often, the programmes are told what kinds of data they have to provide; and invariably, that data is standardized test scores. Funding organizations want to see hard numbers that they deem to be “measurable”. Agencies that want to provide a similar rich and wholistic educational opportunities for the most vulnerable are often denied funding since they cannot deliver the hard numbers that are required.
    I hope that the discussions we are having on this theme will generate some new calls from our community for adult learners to be given opportunities to develop their capacities in ways that are not restrictive – that adults are given the freedom to learn in ways that enhance their potentialities. As Freire says “ Education – the practice of Freedom”.
    Winston Lawrence Ed D
    Former Director of Programs, Institute of Adult and Continuing Education, University of Guyana

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