Putting learners at the centre: New issue of IRE focuses on quality in adult education
The December issue of the International Review of Education – Journal of Lifelong Learning considers the critical but neglected issue of quality in adult learning and education (ALE). Ensuring that ALE makes a full contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development means not only increasing participation but also improving quality across the board and in every area of learning. Quality education demands both systematic interdisciplinary research, complemented by the collection, analysis and dissemination of data and good practice – as exemplified in UIL’s just-published fourth Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE 4) – and a learner-centred approach that reflects the diversity of learners’ needs and aspirations.
The six articles in this issue demonstrate how effective ALE can be when it is offered flexibly and responsively, and when it is designed in a participatory way, with learners at the centre. Four of the articles consider concrete practices and examine how they cater to learners’ needs. The authors investigate the role of traditional folklore in facilitating adult learning in Nigeria; pedagogical practices in non-formal adult literacy in Zambia; the development of a curriculum for training rural women in sewing skills in South India; and the academic credit bank system in the Republic of Korea. The other two a take a more theoretical approach: one article investigates the importance of identifying learners’ characteristics not only from a human capital perspective, but also from sociocultural, biographical and other viewpoints; and the other article considers the labour market benefits of adult education from a global perspective.
In his introduction to the issue, Executive Editor Paul Stanistreet argues that ‘participation in adult education can only support fair, inclusive and sustainable development if quality is ensured and provision effectively addresses the needs, hopes and aspirations of adult learners.’