Posted by on March 21, 2019

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: 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


Be the first to comment.

Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.