ADULT education must provide men and women with the relevant skills to improve their livelihoods, a former Director of the Institute of Adult Education (IAE) of the University of Ghana, Legon, Prof Miranda Greenstreet, has stated.
She said adult education could no longer be divorced from poverty reduction, adding, “In the Ghanaian context, it seems generally accepted that the mission of the Institute is to carry the University’s presence, its standards, and its discipline from Legon into the market places, town and villages all over the country”.
There is, therefore, the need for the IAE to embrace change and the innovations in the field, as well as become better suited to a global situation in which the rapid rate of change brought with it new and more accessible knowledge.
In a lecture delivered at the 60th Annual New Year School of the IAE, Prof Greenstreet proposed, among other things, the re-examination of courses provided by the institute, the type of students produced and the programmes delivered to the public.
Prof Greenstreet observed that every discipline was developed and promoted by those who taught the subject, thus becoming the responsibility of the lecturers in the field to develop the discipline by their awareness of global and national trends with respect to the discipline.
“This calls for training and re-training of adult education professionals,” she added.
Tracing the beginnings of adult education, nationally and internationally, she reiterated the position of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on adult education as a field with the potential of creating an “informed and tolerant citizenry, economic and social development, the promotion of literacy, the alleviation of poverty and the preservation of the environment”.
She described the formative years of adult education internationally and particularly in Ghana, as well as its period of stability under Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s tenure as Prime Minister that “witnessed massive infrastructure development,” and the provision of logistics on a “scale unmatched by any government ever since”.
She said the overthrow of Dr Nkrumah resulted in changes that saw the GCE Ordinary and Advanced Level courses as constituting the main programmes of the institute, and the introduction of a Diploma course in adult education in the early 1970s.
The former Director of the IAE said the 1980s and the 1990s saw the diversification of non-formal programmes offered by the institute on various campuses with the community education programmes being organised by the Accra and the Sekondi/Takoradi Workers Colleges and the Population and Environment Programme in the Upper East Region.
There was also the introduction of certificate courses, Master of Arts/Master of Philosophy and PhD programmes.
“This period also witnessed the establishment and strengthening of new partnerships with local and international partners and adult education networks,” she added.
On programmes to be offered, she called for the inclusion of continuous professional development in the context of adult learning and education and in the wider context of life-long learning.
Prof Greenstreet noted that perceiving adult education as a life-long beneficial venture, was fundamental to bringing about a more democratic system, as well as social institutions in which the principles and ideals of social inclusiveness, justice and equity were present, practised and promoted and where the economy was strong, adaptable ad competitive, among other benefits.
She said it had the potential and responsibility of providing the missing link that had eluded Ghanaians and advocated funding, attitudinal change in the national body politic, the development of a life-long learning policy framework for the country, the reintroduction of industrial training programmes and an expanded provision of non-formal education as some of the measures to institute.
DAILY GRAPHIC, WEDNESDAY JANUARY 7, 2009, PG 17