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close this bookAPPEAL - Training Materials for Continuing Education Personnel (ATLP-CE) - Volume 1: Continuing Education: New Policies and Directions (APEID - UNESCO, 1993, 115 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentChapter 1: The Context of Continuing Education
View the documentChapter 2: The Relationship Between Formal Education and Continuing Education
View the documentChapter 3: The Present Status of Continuing Education
View the documentChapter 4: ATLP-CE: Its Origin, Scope and Development
View the documentChapter 5: An Infrastructure for Continuing Education with Special Reference to Learning Centres
View the documentChapter 6: Strategies for Implementing Continuing Education Programmes - Administrative Aspects
View the documentChapter 7: Clientele, Delivery Systems and Learning Resources for Continuing Education
View the documentChapter 8: Guidelines for Setting Up or Strengthening Continuing Education Programmes
View the documentChapter 9: A Training Curriculum for Continuing Education Personnel
View the documentAnnex: List of Participants

Chapter 1: The Context of Continuing Education

A. The Learning Society and Lifelong Learning

As most countries of Asia and the Pacific move towards universal basic literacy they are challenged by a most significant further step in development. This is their emergence as learning societies. The idea of a learning society was first advanced by UNESCO almost twenty years ago in its famous report Learning to Be.1 According to this UNESCO Report, a learning society is one in which all agencies of a society are educational providers, not just those whose primary responsibility is education (e.g. schools). For example while the primary responsibility of a factory is not education but the manufacture of goods it can and should have an educational role as well. It can provide training for its employees and also can educate the general public about its processes and products, its environmental policies and its societal contributions. Another aspect of a learning society is that all citizens should be engaged in learning, taking full advantage of the opportunities provided by the learning society.

1 Faure, Edgar et al Learning to Be: The World of Education Today and Tomorrow, Paris, UNESCO, 1972.

At the time that this idea was first formulated it made very little impact on education in the Third World as most developing countries considered it to be an unattainable ideal, at least in their foreseeable future. They concentrated instead on the development of formal education, especially on the achievement of Universal Primary Education. That attitude has now changed. Many countries with low levels of basic literacy in the 1970s have now attained more than 80 per cent adult literacy and many have almost achieved universal literacy. Many countries which twenty years ago were economically disadvantaged have become Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs). The idea of a learning society no longer seems to be an unrealistic ideal but a real possibility and a goal for planned development.

If there is a genuine learning society then all citizens engage in education from birth to death - education is lifelong. Purposive, self-planned and self-initiated learning becomes central to the lives of all adults. Each individual sets a series of learning objectives and then pursues these by any means available through the many agencies provided by the learning society.

As citizens become more aware of the power and significance of education as an agency for improving their lives they tend to plan out longer term learning goals and to «add in» shorter term learning experiences to meet immediate needs. Lifelong planning involving continuous education and training is undertaken by all. In this situation however, education must be seen to be something much broader and more significant than «schooling» alone. As needs arise adults can draw on programmes offered by formal education, non formal education and informal education as these sub-sectors are traditionally defined. Some of this learning may be highly structured through attendance at a formal course of study, some may be relatively unstructured, through working in casual learning groups or by independent study; some may be through programmes offered by Departments of Non-Formal Education which aim to provide formal qualifications by alternative non formal means; other forms of learning may be provided by employers through in-house or on the job training and retraining; and so on. Learning needs change as adults take on new roles, and as they get older education tends to be less structured and to draw more and more on informal opportunities for learning.

B. Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning

Under APPEAL, the UNESCO Sub-Regional Seminar on Continuing Education held in Canberra, Australia, in November 1987, defined continuing education as a «broad concept which includes all of the learning opportunities all people want or need outside of basic literacy education and primary education». This definition implies the following:

i) Continuing education is for literate youth and adults

ii) It is responsive to needs and wants

iii) It can include experiences provided by the formal, non-formal and informal education sub-sectors

iv) It is defined in terms of «opportunity» to engage in lifelong learning after the conclusion of primary schooling or its equivalent.

The relationship between lifelong learning and continuing education, therefore, can be shown by a simple diagram (Figure 1.1). In this diagram the central columns show how educational programmes can be planned and sequenced by an individual throughout life. These programmes may be from the formal, non-formal or informal sub-sectors of education and continuing education is the opportunity provided by the learning society to engage in the learning.


Figure 1.1: The relationship between lifelong learning and continuing education. The bands represent individual learning projects.

C. Systems of Education

The terms «formal» and «non formal» and informal» are defined by various educators and educational systems in different ways and there is some confusion and overlap between these ideas and the concept of continuing education. Under APPEAL, therefore, it is proposed to use the term formal to apply to programmes offered by established educational institutions such as schools, technical colleges and universities and to use the term non-formal for courses and programmes offered outside the formal system. The term informal education is more controversial. Some Member States may prefer not to use this term at this stage of their educational development yet it is at the heart of the concept of continuing education. It should not be confused with the term «informal learning» which occurs incidentally and casually from day-to-day observation and experience. All education is purposive and has same degree Of structure. The term «informal education», therefore, refers to educational programmes initiated, and organized by individual learners who set and pursue in a structured way, the achievement of specific objectives independently of any system or agency, either formal or non-formal. Incidentally, one of the key aims of continuing education is to promote and foster informal learning so that adults are empowered to structure and pursue any educational project that they may wish to undertake without being dependent on courses or programmes formal or non-formal, provided by systems or institutions.

This type of approach to the three terms avoids confusion between the concepts of «non formal education» and «continuing education» and allows continuing education to be pursued formally, non-formally or by informal self learning according to need. It makes it clear that continuing education and non-formal education are NOT the same thing, but that continuing education can draw on both formal and non-formal education. In many countries, however, it must be recognized that there are government ministries or departments with the title «Department of Non-Formal Education» and these are usually responsible for all those aspects of continuing adult education which occur outside the formal education system. Most, however, give greatest emphasis to equivalency programmes which provide formal qualifications by alternative means.

Making the term non-formal education equivalent to the concept «continuing education» as a whole, has created another problem. Because historically most Departments of Non-formal Education in Asia and the Pacific have been concerned mainly with Equivalency Programmes, there has been a tendency neglect other types of life-long learning. It is vitally important for Member States to broaden their concept of continuing education to involve the many objectives and approaches advocated hi these volumes, and especially to promote informal education. A more helpful approach would be to identify Departments of Continuing Education which would have equivalency type programmes as only one of their responsibilities.

The problem in terminology partly arises because of the traditionally narrow definition of «education» as meaning formal education alone. This narrow view has also resulted in an over emphasis on formal schooling and the relative neglect of non-formal and self learning approaches. This imbalance has created many problems and in most developing countries formal schooling has not lived up to its expectations as the main mechanism far socio-economic development. Formal education tends to be selective. elitist, academic in orientation and largely irrelevant to real needs. Because traditional formal education is urban in orientation it has encouraged a drift to the cities and there has been a denial of the best traditional values. Also in spite of the fact that for most people formal education represents only about 20 per cent of lifelong education, it absorbs more than 90 per cent of the educational budget.

Member States are now recognizing that socio-economic planning alone is not enough and that human resource development is a key enabling factor in development. Human resource development is viewed by UNDP as «the process of enlarging peoples choices». People should lead long and healthy lives, be well educated and have access to resources needed for a decent standard of living. UNDP has now created a new «development index» an Index of Human Development (the HDI) to go together with the traditional index of Gross National Product (GNP). Countries can now be classified as having low, medium or high HDI. The indicators for HDI include life expectancy, adult literacy level and purchasing power. This new index focuses on how human wellbeing translates into economic growth and vice versa.

What has not yet been fully appreciated however by many Member States is that human resource development and lifelong learning are the same thing. What is urgently needed now is a broader view of education that has formal schooling as only a small component of life planning and that even the provision of equivalency programmes is not enough. Since continuing education is the opportunity to engage in lifelong learning, continuing education must now emerge as the main component of this broader view of education as a whole. (see figure 1.2).


Figure 1.2: A Changing View of Education

Continuing education programmes provide an opportunity for all citizens to truly integrate learning, working and living. These three aspects of personal development must grow together so that overdo quality of life improves and so that society as a whole becomes truly an «educated» society in the best meaning of the term.

D. Types of Continuing Education Programmes

Apart from defining continuing education the UNESCO Seminar «Continuing Education in the Context of APPEAL» held in Cangerra, Australia, in November 1987 devised a system of classifying types of continuing education programmes into six categories according to their aims. This classification was slightly amended at the First Meeting for Regional Co-ordination of APPEAL held in Bangkok, Thailand, 14-18 November 1988.1 The definitions expressed in terms of programme aims, have been further refined in the various UNESCO workshops which drafted the volumes in the ATLP-CE series.

1 See Final Report of this meeting published by UNESCO/PROAP, Bangkok in 1989, page 27.

The six types of continuing education programmes are listed and defined below (see box).

TYPE 1 POST-LITERACY PROGRAMMES (PLPs). These aim to maintain and enhance basic literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills, giving individuals sufficient general basic work skills enabling them to function effectively in their societies.

TYPE 2 EQUIVALENCY PROGRAMMES (EPs). These are designed as alternative education programmes equivalent to existing formal general or vocational education.

TYPE 3 INCOME-GENERATING PROGRAMMES (IGPs). These help participants acquires or upgrade vocational skills and enable them to conduct income-generating activities. IGPs are those vocational continuing education programmes delivered in a variety of contexts and which are directed in particular towards those people who are currently not self-sufficient in a modern world, that is those persons at or below the poverty line.

TYPE 4 QUALITY OF LIFE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMMES (QLIPs). These aim to equip learners and the community with that essential knowledge, attitudes, values and skills to enable them to improve quality of life as individuals and as members of the community.

TYPE 5 INDIVIDUAL INTEREST PROMOTION PROGRAMMES (IIPs). These provide opportunity for individuals to participate in and learn about their chosen social. cultural, spiritual, health, physical and artistic interests.

TYPE 6 FUTURE ORIENTED (FOs) PROGRAMMES. These give workers, professionals, regional and national community leaders, villagers, businessmen and planners new skills, knowledge and techniques to adapt themselves and their organisations to growing social and technological changes.

Volumes II to VII of ATLP-CE deal with each of these types in turn. It is recommend that all readers study volume I on General Principles of Continuing Education and Volume VIII on Learning Centres together with the one or more specialised volumes II to VII of particular relevance to their interests and responsibilities.

It should be stressed, however, that the volumes provide only broad principles and guidelines and have dealt with each type of continuing education programme separately in order to clarify concepts and objectives in these various areas. In practice. continuing education programmes currently operating in most Member States, generally combine several of these approaches. For example many post-literacy programmes are also equivalency programmes and both usually include some aspects of income generation.

E. Sorting out the Terms: Educational Concepts, Systems, Processes and Programmes

Terminology in the area of continuing education is somewhat confused because thinking in this relatively new area is still somewhat flexible and open to several interpretations. It may be helpful to think of relevant terms under four headings: «concepts», «systems»; «processes» and «Programmes».

By «concept» is mean a general idea or notion; by «system» is meant on organized body of connected things or parts such as the structured system of education offered by a government ministry and by «process», is meant a method of operation or a state of carrying on a procedure. By «programme» is meant a structured series of learning events designed to achieve specified outcomes.

By way of summary, therefore, the key definitions in the area of continuing education are as follows:

1. Concepts

The key concept is of a learning society. In a learning society all agencies and adult individuals are educational providers. All Member Sates are striving to achieve this goal.

2. Systems

These include the formal, non-formal and self-learning educational systems and all three contribute to life-long learning.

3. Processes

The process central to the concept of a learning society is life-long learning which involves taking full advantage of the educational opportunities provided by the learning society. The term continuing education refers to the processes of providing such opportunities.

4. Programmes

The process of continuing education can be implemented by several types of structured experiences or programmes such as post-literacy programmes, equivalency programmes, income-generating programmes, quality of life improvement programmes, individual interest promotion programmes and future oriented programmes.

F. Continuing Education and Development

Continuing Education is as essential extension of literacy and primary education to promote human resource development.

Because of the vast number of variables involved and because of the complexity of their interactions it is not possible to prove that increased education causes increased socio-economic development. Logically, however, it is reasonable to infer that increases in knowledge and skill are needed for the introduction and expansion of modern technology and that education must grow and change if a technologically based socio-economic system is to grow and change. Education seen in this way is an enabling agent for development.

Socio-economic growth is of course the main thrust of most development plans in the Third World and most policies are directed at strengthening formal education to ensure that there is adequate knowledge and skill to enable development to occur. Unfortunately, however, this policy has largely failed and social and economic inequalities, low productivity and high levels of illiteracy and semiliteracy remain. Many graduates from formal schooling are unemployed and unemployable and because the formal educational system is largely urban in its orientation there has been a massive population shift from rural areas to cities. Schooling in some countries has in fact so alienated some people from the mainstream of society that social systems have tended to break down and conflict and aggression have become commonplace.

This crisis in education in the Third World has come about largely because the formal system caters only for a handful of successful students and the rest become alienated and unproductive. Continuing education, that is the opportunity to engage in lifelong learning, therefore emerges as a way of compensating for the inadequacies of the formal system by giving people a second chance, and also of ensuring a continual growth and upgrading of human resources throughout the lives of all citizens. Human resource development (HRD) becomes the focus of attention. Appropriately educated people develop positive attitudes and skills, can improve the quality of their work and can increase their incomes. People can save and invest and a general upgrading of the socio-economic structure of society occurs based on the emergence of secure, happy and prosperous individuals and families. With such improved human resources and in particular because of both a stronger domestic economy and an improved quality of the human mind, the third world would be better able to manage its scarce national resources and so ensure effective, appropriate and sustainable development.

These ideas are illustrated in figure 1.3.


Figure 1.3: Education for Human Development

A focus on human resource development through continuing education has another important implication for overall socio-economic development. Most development theorists argue that education alone is not enough to ensure that development will occur. They state that unemployment, illiteracy and social inequality are caused by structural aspects of society which education alone cannot address. Some extremists, usually those following Marxist ideology, would even argue that schooling is deliberately imposed in such a way that structural reforms cannot occur and that the system ensures dependency of the majority who are poor and disadvantaged on the few who are wealthy and powerful. In advancing these arguments, however, such theorists usually have only formal education in mind. Continuing education, that is the provision for lifelong learning, does two things to overcome this problem. Firstly it equips individuals with the mental abilities and practical skills necessary to address structural weaknesses in society. Secondly, and perhaps even more significantly, it changes the emphasis from something «imposed from above», such as a formal system of institutionalised education, to something self initiated and self sustained by individual learners. In continuing education it is the individuals who set and pursue their learning objectives, not the system. Continuing education, therefore, not only equips people to bring about structural changes hi society; it empowers them to do so.

If continuing education promotes the growth of human resources and leads to significant socio-economic gains, the question emerges what sort of socio-economic development should it generate? Human resource development in some countries is seen to be synonymous with manpower development - the production of an educated work force, and the build up of «human capital». Others see it more in terms of an overall improved quality of life involving all dimension’s of personal growth.

Another issue is that human resource development in some countries is dealt with sectorally in different planning documents and is implemented by several, frequently competing agencies. There is an absence of co-ordinated action.

If continuing education is seen as the mechanism for human resource development these types of issues can be more readily addressed. If there is a well organized and co-ordinated infrastructure for continuing education, and if continuing education policies are based on national planning, then all aspects of human resource development can be systematically advanced. There is another important aspect. As more people become involved in lifelong learning and improve their educational standards and ways of life, more will be involved in social decision making at all levels. Development plans will come to reflect what people want and need based on their reasoned understanding of potentials and limitations. In this way a truly sustainable development is likely to emerge. In other words, development will reflect the concerns of the people and will be fair to both the present and the future. It is more likely to leave future generations at least a similar, but hopefully better, endowment of resources than at present.

G. Conclusion

Continuing education has been defined in this chapter as an opportunity to pursue lifelong learning after the completion of primary education or its equivalent. It has been argued that it is the mechanism for human resource development which in turn is the basis of meaningful sustainable socio-economic development. These arguments, if accepted, give continuing education a key role in society. Indeed since formal education alone is now seen to be insufficient and inadequate as the enabling force for development, viable alternatives are needed. Continuing education offers countries an opportunity to face and solve their social and economic problems and to grow and develop according to a meaningful and effective plan.