SM Ruhul Alam : Adult Learning and Education promotes personal and professional development that supports adults to be engaged more actively with their own societies, communities, community organizations as well as environments. It also fosters sustainable and comprehensive financial development by enhancing job prospects for people. In other words, adult learning and education is an effective tool in order to improve health, promote civic education, fight against adverse effect of global warming, promote community managed disaster risk reduction approach, establish human rights, reduce poverty , bring about community welfare as well as make sustainable learning societies and so on. Hence, adult learning and education programs (e.g. Master of Education in Adult Learning and Education / Doctor of Philosophy in Adult Learning and Education) are offered at renowned universities around the world.
However, no university in Bangladesh offers any program (M.Ed./PhD) in Adult Learning and Education (ALE). What’s the reason for this gap? In our society many people ,including the educated people, still believe that adult education means to provide with literacy and numeracy courses at night schools in informal settings to illiterate old people. Nevertheless it is an unconvinced notion that reflects the shortsightedness of a vast number Bangladeshis. Encyclopedia Britannica considers adult education as a ‘continuing education’ that is undertaken by or provided for mature men and women. It means adult education is relevant not only to illiterate people but also to literate people. Next , there is another myth regarding the age of adult learners. In Bangladesh many people believe that only old people are eligible to be adult learners. This notion is incorrect because globally the minimum age of an adult learner is twenty five. It means young people are also eligible to get adult education.
Why is the ALE program important? An analogy from IT sector will elucidate the answer. we regularly update computers by installing the latest version of software so that computers can provide optimal services very effectively. Likewise an adult educated person needs to be update with the latest knowledge, skills and technology as it is essential to evoke that learning doesn’t necessarily stop as soon as one leaves high school or tertiary education. Adult learning and education gives adult learners the chance to make progress in their professional lives as well as grow required new skills. The program also helps develop competencies and skills in helping adults to learn within a wide range of social, institutional and cultural contexts.
The objectives of Adult Learning & Education programs is different from the MBA program. The objective of the MBA program is to train men and women with the knowledge, analytical skills as well as management skills to grow their leadership to run organizations in order to compete in a world that is gradually categorized by rapid technological advancement, variety in the workforce and sudden unexpected challenges while the objective of the ALE program is to develop specialists and thoughtful practitioners who will eventually shape community and community organizations in ways that support lifelong learning with a view to bringing adult learning as well as social development together, enabling adult learners to explore the intersection of these two fields as it applies to their own unique contexts. In other words, the objective of the ALE program multidimensional. This is the uniqueness of the ALE program.
Bangladesh , a country having about 180 million people, desperately need the ‘ALE practitioners’ for its socioeconomic development. There are plenty of opportunities for ALE practitioners to: provide functional literacy programs for adult learners who have never got any chance formal education in their lives; provide functional as well as remedial education program for the young people who precipitately dropped out of formal primary or high school education system of Bangladesh; provide supplementary education for various completers of formal education system to develop their elementary knowledge as well as skills; provide in-service as well as technical and specialized training for various types of workforces and specialists to develop abilities; give the adult people of Bangladesh aesthetic, traditional as well as civic education to make them responsible citizens.
Writer: SM ruhul alam, English Language Faculty Member, University of Buraimi, Oman