Winston Lawrence comments on the article “How adult education can save your life”
Former Director of Programs, Institute of Adult and Continuing& Sociology of Education at the University of Guyana; lecturer, community adult educator and teacher trainer on how to incorporate health literacy into curriculums and classrooms
Thank you Dr Lopes for presenting this refreshing article ” Adult education can save your life” in such an arresting way. It certainly caught my attention. As an adult educator I have always felt that adult learning and education is much more than acquiring literacy skills and content knowledge. In Freirean terms , it should also be about “reading the world”.
Working out of an Extra Mural context at the University of Guyana, in one project, I partnered with a district doctor, and developed a series of health presentations to young unwed mothers at one of the district health centres on clinic days. My orientation was that the improved health literacy of the mothers would contribute to the overall health of both mother and baby, reduce unwanted expenses, and even reduce infant and maternal illnesses.
In New York city I worked with adult literacy teachers to infuse health literacy into their curriculum and instruction to address the need for immigrant adult literacy and basic education students to acquire knowledge of the western health care system and develop ways to communicate within a specialized health system. Students learned key vocabulary of the health care system encompassing both preventive and reactive health care.
In the process, partnerships were developed between adult education agencies and health care organizations allowing reciprocal activities. Health professionals ( doctors, health educators, etc) visited adult literacy and education centers and provided rich health content to students ( related to the students ‘ own health situations). On the other side, students visited health facilities on tours to understand the structure and processes of health care. They also provided feedback to health care agencies on how to improve their written publications to reach a similar demographic of patients. In addition, they provided feedback to health professionals on how well the latter was communicating ( whether they were using too many technical terms and how they could use simpler language). We do know that miscommunication is a key factor for adverse events in patients.
By developing health literacy skills , students are in a position to understand better what they are told and can therefore take medications appropriately and correctly, thereby avoiding serious complications. They develop knowledge and understanding of the system, and they develop the language to effectively communicate with health providers.
Thank you for this perspective that is sorely lacking in much of adult literacy and education practice. Adult education can indeed save the lives of our students, their relatives and even others in the community through the incorporation of health literacy education and practices. This kind of education is needed in the context of sustainable development and all of the implications of climate change and other factors that will impact our health in the immediate future and beyond.
Links to the AED 85/2018 publication in three languages: English, French, Spanish
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Voici les liens vers la publication en trois langues: Anglais , Français, Espagnol
Para español favor usar google translator en los casos en que el artículo no está traducido al español
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