|APPEAL - Training Materials for Continuing Education Personnel (ATLP-CE) - Volume 4: Quality of Life Improvement Programmes (APEID - UNESCO, 1993, 95 p.)|
A. THE FOCUS OF THIS VOLUME
This volume deals with quality of life improvement programmes within the context of continuing education. While almost all aspects of education can be said to contribute in some way to improved quality of life some types of educational activities can be more specifically directed to improve general well-being through the development of higher standards of living and improved excellence of life style. These types of educational activities are termed in this volume «quality of life improvement programmes,» (QLIPs).
The definition of quality of life adopted here is as follows:
Quality of life refers to the level of well-being of the society and the degree of satisfaction of a number of human needs.1
Quality of life improvement programmes can be functionally defined as follows:
Quality of Life Improvement Programmes (QLIPs) 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.
Quality of life improvement programmes are therefore development focused and have a strong future orientation. They are concerned with helping establish an enriching vision of the future and with helping the community devise and undertake developmental activities to achieve that vision through education.
B. DEFINITION OF QUALITY OF LIFE
The definition given above for the quality of life has been chosen because of its simplicity and utility. It is a functional definition with a clear action orientation.
The concept of quality of life, however, has different meanings, interpretations and expectations for different individuals, communities, societies and nations. These different meanings have been reflected in various definitions. The educators Dalkey and Rouke define quality of life as a "persons sense of well-being, his or her satisfaction or dissatisfaction with life, or happiness or unhappiness".2
The American sociologists F.M. Andrews and S.B. Withey believe that the concept «Quality of life» should be viewed from two related perspectives3 The first is a national perspective which is generally concerned with the idea of «standard of living» as a criterion for assessing the level of well-being of society and for assessing progress towards achievement of societal goals. The second is a personal perspective which involves considering the «degree of excellence in ones lifestyle» and that is of course a highly subjective judgment4 So putting these ideas together the concept «quality of life» could be viewed as «A concept involving a relative assessment of human well-being in terms of the overall standards of living of society and the degree of excellence of an individuals life style».
The concept of «well-being» is common to these definitions and usually well-being is interpreted in terms of satisfying both economic and social need.
Quality of life improvement programmes (QLIPs), therefore, are educational programmes designed to enhance the well-being of all citizens. This definition given in Section A above gives QLIPs a strong developmental focus and makes clear that their role is to promote human well-being through education aimed at improving general standards of living and the degree of excellence of ones life style.
C. QUALITY OF LIFE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMMES IN THE CONTEXT OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
a) The Idea of Development
The development of a nation or community is now seen to be concerned with two elements - general resource development and human resource development. By general resource development is generally meant the development of primary and secondary industry, commerce and trade and infrastructures such as transport, communications, medical services and the like. This type of development of course also benefits individuals by providing and increasing nation-wide services and systems which enhance general well-being. The level of general resource development of a country is generally expressed by the index of Gross National Product (GNP).
Human resource development, however, is more directly concerned with upgrading human qualities, mainly through education and training, to enable individuals to develop to their maximum potential. International agencies such as UNDP and the World Bank now use a measure termed the Human Development Index (HDI) which has three components (i) longevity (ii) knowledge and (iii) living standards. The educational (knowledge) component recognizes the importance of high levels of skill and is measured by a combination of adult literacy and mean years of schooling. Living standards are measured by levels of income relative to the poverty cut-off point.
Quality of life development is almost synonymous with development per se as measured by a combination of the factors assessed by GNP and HDI but is moderated to an extent by issues such the relationship between development and perceived happiness and by environmental concerns such as limitations imposed by the idea of sustainable development. Sustainable development stresses that present generations should ensure that the quality of the natural environment and availability of natural resources are not degraded for future generations.
To simplify the design of quality of life improvement programmes the various stages of a development of a nation or community have been classified in this volume as follows:
Figure 1.1: A classification of living standards
The primary criterion for this classification is standard of living as measured by levels of income. Other development indices correlate with this criterion. While this is not always the case, poor people usually lack access to skilled knowledge and have shorter life spans, whereas people with incomes above the poverty line usually have better educational opportunity and enjoy greater longevity. So while very generalized this type of classification provides an useful framework for the design of quality of life improvement programmes for different levels of development.
It is important to stress however that the purely economic indicator of GNP is not always positively correlated with the more socially oriented HDI. There are a few countries which have relatively high GNP and relatively low HDI indicating perhaps that social development has not keep pace with economic development. Such imbalances can be partly addressed through quality of life improvement programmes.
Within each of the categories shown in figure 1.1 certain societal groups lag behind in development and should be priority targets for QLIPs. Women are especially significant in this regard. One aspect of the special concerns of women is the need to help them cope more effectively with obsolescent technology. Women do not have the same opportunities as men to keep abreast of new developments and should therefore have improved access to retraining and to recurrent education. Another aspect of the issue of women in development (WID) is the need to improve their general status in society and to empower them to participate more in societal decision making.
Others which may need to be specially targeted by QLIPs include subsistence level farmers, urban youth and other disadvantaged groups.
b) Indicators for Quality of Life Development
The various elements or aspects of quality of life can be expressed in the form of indicators. These indicators, as the term suggests, represent a set of variables which can be measured to assess progress.
The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has suggested that Quality of Life indicators have been traditionally classified into three groups as follows:
i) Economic Indicators
GNP and GDP
ii) Objective Social Indicators
Hard data on elements such as:
housing and physical environment
personal safety and justice
leisure and use of time
iii) Subjective Social Indicators
Soft data on individuals reactions and perceptions about quality of life.
Perceived levels of happiness and life satisfaction in regard to
ESCAP points out an interesting lack of correlation between the three categories of indicators. While income levels can go up people surveyed can claim that they are less happy and so on.
Other lists have been compiled by various authors. Professor S. M. Yassin of Malaysian suggests that these elements are as follows:
i) The physical and material well-being of an individual or family that accrues from material possession and financial security usually of income and property. Other related aspects are the levels of health and personal safety.
ii) Relations with other people, which refer to good relations with family members, having and raising children, and positive interactions with relatives, friends and neighbours.
iii) The area of social, community and civic activities that relate to activities for helping or encouraging other people and activities associated with participation in local and national governments.
iv) Concern for personal development and fulfilment. This includes intellectual development, spiritual development, personal understanding and planning, occupational role in society and creativity and freedom of personal expression.
v) Concern for recreation. By this is meant the opportunity for socializing, facility for passive and recreational observation as well as for active and participatory recreational activities.
Professor Yassin, also stresses, that these elements cannot be made operational and that quality of life development cannot be sustained unless the adult population has a set of values which will foster and promote their development6. These values are as follows:
i) Diligence and Industriousness: These are important to ensure that the populace posses a positive attitude towards change.
ii) Discipline and Respect for Knowledge: These values are necessary to support the desire to possess and seek knowledge especially in the context of technological and industrial development.
iii) Integrity and moral ethics: These values are the basic building blocks of various modes of social and commercial interactions which directly affect either improvement or decline in quality of life.
iv) Tolerance: In a plural society, this value is a crucial ingredient, without which harmony and cooperation will be jeopardised. Also, this value is important to support the ability of a societal group to accommodate the subtle or overt differences in roles or ideas of other groups and in appreciating the differences that others possess.
v) Loyalty: Above all, this value reigns supreme in importance especially when seen in respect of the ruling government or towards the nation. The citizenrys loyalty is often earned when they believe that a government is sincere and not corrupt in its dealings with the people at large.
Another Malaysian educator Dr. Cheong, Siew Young7, suggests that the following elements are important in indicating the level of life quality. (table I.1).
Table 1.1: Elements Important for a High Quality of Life (After Cheong, Siew Young 1983)
Biological variable. The satisfaction of basic biological needs is of fundamental importance both for survival and for the quality of life. The availability of nutritious food, clean air, unpolluted water, a life relatively healthy and free from sickness, adequate housing and sanitation are essential.
Economic variable. From the individual point of view, two factors are important: (a) an opportunity to work to earn an adequate income and to achieve self-actualization; and (b) money to purchase modern material goods. From the societal viewpoint, quality of life is a function of economic capabilities and depends on an equitable distribution of the societys economic opportunities among the people. In developing societies, it would imply, for example, a better earning capacity for people living in rural areas. Employment opportunities and an adequate income for all would be the ultimate goal.
Social variable. The freedom to make choices and decisions and to participate in the affairs of society is an important dimension of democratic life. Other factors are lack of discrimination based on sex, place of residence, religion, race, or physical or mental handicap; access to social services and cultural activities; and law and order.
Environmental variable. The environment consists of both the natural and the human environments. The natural environment includes natural resources such as land, air, water, fauna and flora, mineral and oil deposits. In general, the quality of life is severely reduced if the natural environment is badly managed. The human environment comprises the populations of countries and the socialization process. In some cases an increase in the population can contribute to economic progress, but in other instances a large population is a liability to the achievement of desirable standard of living for the people.
Humanistic variable. The psychological and affective aspects of human life are extremely important. Human feelings and emotions, in particular happiness, inner harmony, spiritual fulfilment, peace of mind and general contentment, are critical to attaining mental well-being and hence increasing the quality of ones life.
A similar list was developed by Dr. Michael Atchia of Mauritius who is 1983 conducted on opinion survey of nearly 500 educators from six countries.8 Based on his study he developed the following classification shown diagramatically in figure 1.2.
Figure 1.2: Essential and peripheral elements of the quality of life (After Atchia 1985)
These various lists have many elements in common. Not all of the elements, however. can be directly affected by education.
One thing is clear however, there is general agreement that economic indicators alone are not adequate to give a measure of the quality of life. Both economic and social indicators are required.
Indicators such as those listed above can be grouped into general categories for the purposes of planning and programme design. The broad categories suggested in this volume are shown in the box below
BROAD CATEGORIES OF QUALITY OF LIFE INDICATORS
c) Selecting Elements and Indicators for Quality of Life Improvement Programmes
Not all elements of quality of life development can be addressed by education. For example a communitys well-being may be enhanced by the flood control, irrigation and hydroelectricity arising from construction of a major dam. The decision to build the dam, however, is not the direct product of an educational programme. What education can do in such a situation is help people adjust to the impact of the dam, to help them weigh up the advantages and disadvantaged of its construction and assist them in making wise and effective use of its benefits.
What Quality of Life Improvement Programmes aim to do is to educate people as change agents by helping groups learn and act on how to improve their quality of life. It is important that QLIPs help to improve the standards of living and the life styles of as many people as possible. Elements to be promoted by such programmes should be carefully selected with this aim in mind. Criteria for selection are given below (Table 1.2).
Table 1.2: Criteria for Selecting Elements for QLIPs
i) Promote active participation by learners. QLIPs are intended to facilitate planning and implementation of developmental projects designed to improve standards of living and quality of life style. Only those quality of life elements which can actively involve learners are suitable for educational programmes.
ii) Be of direct benefit to learners. Outcomes of QLIPs must be immediate and relevant to the needs of those involved. Only those aspects which can be directly and immediately developed through education and training should be included in QLIPs.
iii) Be developmental and action oriented. Since QLIPS are concerned with bringing about changes in society they must be action oriented. Only realistic and practicable targets should be included.
iv) Be time bound in the achievement of specific targets. Targets should be set within a specified time frame. There could be a relationship with a national five year plan or a phased development plan for a specific community. Targets should be selected which can be realistically achieved in the time available.
v) Be capable of delivery through a multisectoral approach. Almost all development projects involve more than one sector of government. Educators planning QLIPs must be aware of the sectors involved in any given project and select only those elements which involve realistic coordination and cooperation between the sectors concerned.
vi) Be family and community oriented with clear benefits for all. Families are the ultimate beneficiaries of improved standards of living and an upgraded life style. Families therefore need to be targeted in promoting QLIPs.
vii) Be culturally relevant to the needs and concerns of those involved. Different cultural groups have different developmental priorities and only elements of relevance to specific groups should be addressed through QLIPs.
viii) Be suitable for application of non-formal methods and the principles of adult learning. QLIPs are a type of continuing education and only those aspects of quality of life which can be addressed using the methodologies of adult education should be involved.
ix) Promote complementary inputs by both the formal and non-formal education systems. QLIPs are not only multi-sectoral but should also utilize inputs from both the formal and non-formal educational systems. Elements which can be readily supported by both systems should be given some priority.
x) Be supportive of national policy. Elements selected for QLIPs should be consistent with and contribute to achieving the goals of overall national development.
As a result of applying criteria such as those given above (table 1.2) it is possible to select indicators and define realistic targets to be addressed by QLIPs.
d) Consolidated list of Indicators
After reviewing the lists of quality of life indicators discussed above and the criteria for selection also listed above, a consolidated list of categories of indicators which could be addressed by QLIPs has been prepared and is given in table 1.3 below:
Table 1.3: Indicators for Quality of Life Improvement Programmes
These refer to biological elements fundamental for survival and for the quality of life. For example availability of nutritious food and clean water.
· availability of food
The elements of this category include those necessary for social harmony and progress such as freedom to make choices and decisions and absence of discrimination.
· Quality of family life (example parenting)
This category can be looked at from the individual and societal viewpoints. Individuals need an opportunity to work and earn on adequate income to purchase material goods. Society as a whole benefits from an equitable distribution of economic opportunity.
· opportunity to work and earn adequate income
These include psychological aspects such as values and emotions. Elements such as feelings of happiness, inner harmony and spiritual fulfilment are important here.
· Level of happiness
This category includes both the natural and the human-made environment. The former include natural resources such as land, air, water, animals, plants and so on. The latter includes the human population.
· Natural environment
· Human environment
The list of elements in each category of indicators in table 1.3 could be further expanded. Also in practice any one element would be broken down into more specific indicators and these specific indicators would then be expressed as targets for development. For example the element «availability of food» might be made more specific by identifying availability of one commodity such as rice and a target of increasing rice production by ten per cent over two years may be set. The QLIP devised to support this planned development would then focus on the achievement of that specific goal.
D. QUALITY OF LIFE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMMES IN THE CONTEXT OF CONTINUING EDUCATION
a) Definition of Continuing Education
Quality of life Improvement Programmes as proposed in this volume are one type of Continuing Education programme. Under ATLP-CE Continuing Education has been defined as follows: (See box).
Continuing Education is a broad concept which includes all 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 adults;
ii) it is responsive to needs and wants;
iii) it can include experiences and activities provided through the formal, non-formal and informal educational sub-sectors;
iv) it involves the provision of opportunity to engage in learning with the further implication that after the completion of child education, education continues throughout life.
An important aspect of continuing education is that the society should evolve so that not only schools, colleges and universities provide educational opportunity but that all agencies including factories, commercial enterprises, farms, retail outlets, libraries, government agencies and so on provide education. A society in which all agencies provide opportunities for learning and in which most citizen are life-long learners is, under UNESCO, defined as a learning society.
Since Quality of Life Improvement Programmes are one type of Continuing Education they contribute to the evolution of a learning society. Because of their specific focus on development they have a special role to play in the context of continuing education and life-long learning. This role is briefly reviewed in section D(b) below:
b) Types of Continuing Education
Continuing Education under APPEAL offers six types of programme. These are post-literacy, income generation, equivalency, individual interest and future oriented programmes as well as quality of life improvement programmes. All six types are functional in that they involve the development of functional knowledge. The functional knowledge is used as a motivator and delivery emphasis with the aim of making learning relevant to living and working. The relationships between the six types of CE programmes are discussed in ATLP-CE volume 1.
c) The Specific Role of QLIPs in Continuing Education
Since the role of QLIPs is to facilitate positive societal change through education it is important to develop such programmes within the context of a general model for change. The change model advocated in this volume is given in detail in Chapter 2 but its essential elements are reviewed below. The model indicates (i) where we are now, (ii) the procedure to bring about development and (iii) a statement of the development target (where we want to be). QLIPs can be implemented at all three stages of the model.
At the initial stage the aim should be to compare national targets on key indicators with community perceptions. Education through QLIPs can help the community to:
- understand national targets
- assess their own situation
- identify their own targets
- negotiate desirable targets
At the second stage QLIPs can help to change human factors and through them change institutional and environmental aspects.
At the third stage QLIPs may help people monitor and evaluate whether they have reached the target, to assess successes and failures and to help in deciding in where to go next.
So the model implies that there should be two types of QLIPs - general and specific. The general types should be concerned with broad aspects of implementation such as planning, management and evaluation. For example, QLIPs could be developed for each stage of the model.
How to determine needs
| || ||
How to assess the level of relevant indicators
| || ||
How to select appropriate methods
| || ||
How to implement change
| || || |
How to assess level of achievement
| || ||
How to evaluate the effectiveness of the outcomes
| || ||
How to assess impact
How to review processes
| || ||
How to determine future priorities
More specific types of QLIPs could then be developed to support the specific aspects of change. Issues to be addressed could include: What are the specific needs? How the specific targets are determined? How are they to be achieved? How should training in the techniques and procedures required be achieved? How should outcomes be measured? And so on.
Such a change model is relevant at all levels; national; state-wide; provincial and local. It provides a broad framework for the selection, design and development of QLIPs of relevance to development needs. Priorities would of course be different for different groups. Developed nations would be different from developing nations, rural communities would have different priorities from urban communities, and so on.
For example the priorities for two contrasted nations, one highly developed and one less developed, may be as follows (see box):
Examples of Development
Improved national identity
Selected targets could not of course be achieved through education and training alone but education through QLIPs can facilitate and accelerate development.
d) The Characteristics of Effective QLIPs
As discussed above QLIPs are socially oriented and developmental in focus and to achieve their objectives they need to have certain specific qualities. These are outlined below:
i) Participatory: Since QLIPs are concerned with the lives of people in a given community they should be highly participatory. All relevant members of the community should be involved in determining priorities, in deciding which QLIPs are required and in their development and implementation.
ii) Clearly Defined Targets: Realistic and practicable development targets should be set with carefully defined indicators of change. Whenever possible these indicators should be quantitative rather than qualitative e.g. increase rice production of the village by five per cent over the next twelve months.
iii) Linked to a change Model: Effective development occurs only when it is carefully planned. There should be clear understanding of the procedures needed to bring about change from needs analysis, through implementation to the evaluation of outcomes. All those involved in QLIPs should understand the nature of change and the general procedures for implementation.
iv) Action Oriented: QLIPs can be concerned with awareness raising (e.g. the dangers of smoking) but unless they lead to action (reduction in smoking) they are largely ineffective. QLIPs should therefore enable people to take direct action in improving their living standards and life styles. Some types of action may be entirely community-based self help; other may need partial support from outside the immediate community and others may be entirely supported form outside.
v) Family Oriented: Since the main beneficiary of QLIPs is the family, the most effective programmes, therefore, should keep the needs of the family in mind and ensure that family welfare, interests and concerns are at the heart of the development.
vi) Multisectoral: Many sectors of government are concerned with development. Education, health, agriculture, communications, transport, industry and so on. This implies the need for close coordination of all agencies involved.
vii) Linked to National Development Plans: To have major impact QLIPs, even at village level, should not be planned on an ad hoc basis. The more closely they are linked to overall plans for national development the more likely they are to have a cumulative impact on the development of the nation as a whole. Also they are more likely to receive support from the national level.
e) Levels of Quality of Life Improvement Programmes
QLIPs can be broad in scope and be of concern to the entire nation or l e more localized in scope. QLIPs can therefore be mounted at various levels (i) national (ii) state wide (iii) district (iv) local.
i) National QLIPs: In each country the National Development Plan or State Policy usually states how it wants to develop the quality of life of the people. This is the main framework which provides direction for all agencies concerned with quality of life working at various levels such as national, provincial, district and local. Thus many agencies at each level have quality of life programmes.
ii) State or Provincial level: In many countries the individual states or provinces have specific developmental concerns. An state or province which is largely forest may wish to focus on the sustainable development of forest resources. A state concerned mainly with the production of grain crops such as rice or wheat may wish to maximize production. State wide programmes would need to combine training with action oriented projects supported by campaigns utilizing the mass media.
iii) District level: Different districts also have their own developmental concerns. Some QLIPs may need to be organized to guide the necessary educational support for these developments. For example a district may wish to improve aspects of community health or assist people establish small businesses. These types of targets may be achievable through training, community education and action projects.
iv) Local level: Small communities such as urban groups or village collectives have very specific development concerns. Village management or local urban committees can initiate action oriented projects such as introducing new income generating schemes or for the local provision of clean water. In cooperation with local learning centres action oriented projects can be organized supported by awareness and training courses.
It follows that some QLIPs may be initiated at higher levels of the system with aspects operationalized at lower levels. In other cases lower levels such as village communities may be the initiators and these may influence higher levels. In fact it should be the responsibility of both the lower and higher levels to work together to ensure that projects achieve their targets and that successful lower level projects serve as models for replication at district, state or national levels.
E. THE IMPACT OF QUALITY OF LIFE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMMES
Human Resource Development (HRD) is now seen by those concerned with facilitating national growth and positive change in the improvement of human well-being as the main approach to be adopted. As expressed by Sulaiman Yassin9:
"Human development is the process of increasing the knowledge, skills, and capacities of all the people in a society. In economic terms, it could be described as the accumulation of human capital and its effective investment in the development of an economy. I)t political terms, human development prepares people for adult participation in political processes, particularly as citizens in a democracy. From the social and cultural points of view, the development of human resource helps people to lead fuller and richer lives less bound by tradition. In short, the processes of human development unlock the door to modernisation."
Continuing Education is probably the most effective agency for human resource development. Quality of Life Improvement Programmes are an especially significant type of continuing education since they relate directly to planned economic and societal development. By helping to raise living standards and to improve life styles they enhance human well-being and contribute to the process of modernisation.
In almost all countries of the Region there are educational activities concerned with improving the quality of life. Many of these activities have been included in types of continuing education programmes such as post-literacy, equivalency, income generation and so on. While this is useful and makes a significant contribution to development, the effort lacks coordination and is somewhat ad hoc in approach. This volume is designed to facilitate the design and development of quality of life improvement programmes in their own right. It attempts to provide not only a theoretical rationale but a set of guidelines and procedures to assist in the introduction of a systematic, coherent, nation-wide system of development and delivery.
The outcomes of quality of life improvement programmes, therefore, effect all levels of the nation - nationally, state wide, in districts and locally. Since the family is the basic unit of society it is the family which is the ultimate beneficiary. Quality of Life Improvement Programmes, therefore need to be a major focus of continuing education and deserve full government support and commitment.
Note and References
1. UNESCO. Population and Quality of Life. Paris: UNESCO 1982.
2. As quoted in Karim, Raj Quality of Life - Concept and Programme. Paper presented to UNESCO PROAP Technical Working Group Meeting on Quality of Life Improvement Continuing Education Programmes 8-16 May 1992, Penang, Malaysia, p.2.
3. Andrews, F.M. and Withey, S.B. Social Indicators of Well-Being. Americans Perceptions of Life Quality. New York: Plenum Press, 1976.
5. Yassin, Sulaiman M. Human Development and Quality of Life Improvement Paper presented to UNESCO PROAP Technical Working Group Meeting on Quality of Life Improvement Continuing Education Programmes, 8-16 May 1992, Penang, Malaysia, p.9.
6. Ibid, p. 10
7. Cheong, Siew Young. Quality of Life and Biology Education. A Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Commission for Biological Education of the International Union of Biological Sciences, Vancouver Canada 1983.
8. Atchia, Michael. The Concept of «Quality of Life» a Model. Paper presented to the annual meeting of the Education Commission of the International Union of Biological Sciences, Bangalore, India, August 1985.
9. Yassin, Sulaiman M. Op Cit. pp 1-2.