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only recently gaining the much needed attention. Non formal adult education has been around for ages in Malaysia. However, the focus has mostly been in personal development and social change, not up skilling which is mostly workrelated. Adult education, as the term suggest, simply refers to the process of educating adults. Eduard C. Lindeman1 believed adult education is one point on a continuum of learning and that "the whole of life is learning". It is very much a synonymous concept to continuous/life-long learning. The term adult education is used to designate all those educational activities that are designed specifically for adults (Kelly C. H., Perkett D. J., nd) The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) Adult Education Commission2 states that adult education includes all educational opportunities available to adults other than those specifically leading to a college or university. On the other hand, Merriam et al. (1999) defined that adult education as a lifelong learning process which is not fastening by age, space and condition. Both types of adult education – up-skilling and personal development – are both equally important to achieve economic goals and social goals of the country. It is work related education that has been given the attention with a lot less focus given to personal development. Agencies from both the government and the private sector have perhaps realized this which is why more programs of more holistic in nature has been planned. This paper attempts to analyze issues pertaining adult education in Malaysia and present some possible suggestions to improve. The Concept of Adult Education UNESCO defined adult education as: “…the entire body of organized processes, whatever the content, level and method, whether formal or whether they prolong or replace initial education in schools, colleges and universities as well as in apprenticeship, persons regarded as adult by the society to which they belong develop their abilities, enrich their knowledge, improve technical or professional qualifications or turn them in a new direction and bring about changes in their attitudes or behavior in the twofold perspective of full personal development and participation in balanced and independent social, economic and cultural development.”
Eduard C. Lindeman is a renowned writer in the field of adult education. His profound insight into teaching methods, learning theories, and diverse motivations for adult learning are beautifully illustrated in his classic work: The Meaning of Adult Education.
The Commission discusses issues of concern to adult education, makes recommendations to CFT governance bodies, officers, and staff, and promotes adult education and adult educators.
The term “adult education” in this paper refers to the learning opportunities that are undertaken by adults outside the formal schooling system. Thus, the term is used interchangeably with andragogy3. The non-formal system in Malaysia includes community education programs, vocational skilled training and the training at the workplace. There are various ideas regarding all areas in adult education with scholars having their own views on specific issues like the principles of adult learning, definition of terms etc. However, it is crucial to understand in simplified term that adult education is simply the act of guiding adults towards certain goals using whatever suitable andragogical methods. Purpose and Goals of Adult Education in Malaysia Adult Education activities in Malaysia include the government literacy programme, personal development, citizenship education, political, ideological and religious studies, and employment training. The goals are: (a) to prepare an adult learner for jobs and job enrichment through vocationally oriented education, (b) to promote nation building in a multicultural society through citizenship education, (c) to provide “alternative education” that allows mature students to continue their education in a non-traditional manner through distance education programme, and (d) to provide personal enrichment especially to senior citizens through participation in locally organised community programs. Adult education programs in Malaysia are mainly provided by three major groups: government agencies (39.6%), non-profit organisations (12.3%) and private sector (48.1%) (Mazanah, 2001). The providers are categorised according to target groups and/or disciplines of study or the way they offer or provide adult education programs. Public adult education providers receive financial support from the government. They are from several Ministries such as the Ministry of Rural Development, the Ministry of Women and Family Development, etc. Private providers comprise non-governmental organisations and receive contributions from the private sector and they are structured to earn a profit. The NGOs are either self-financed or supported financially by the government, or the private sector or international bodies. What Can be Learnt from Other Countries University-Based Adult and Continuing Education-India Universities are renegotiating and redefining their relations with civil society, various economic partners and the public in many different ways. Notions of adult and lifelong learning are central to this institutional redefinition. Lifelong learning can only take place by building bridges between members of the academic community, the socio-cultural and economic realities around them and the day-to-day actions of citizens attempting to create better living and working
Refers to the methods used in teaching adult
conditions. In 1998 the Department of Continuing Education and Extension of the University of Mumbai, India drafted the Mumbai Statement on lifelong learning. University-based adult educators and other specialists in the field of lifelong learning and non-governmental organizations committed themselves to opening schools, colleges and university to adult learners and called upon the World Conference on Higher Education (Paris, 1998) to promote the transformation of post-secondary institutions into lifelong learning institutions, and to define the role of universities accordingly. Source: University of Bombay (1998) The Mumbai Statement on Lifelong Learning, Mumbai, University of Bombay. Equivalency and Accreditation Program for Adults- Philippines The Non-Formal Education Accreditation and Equivalency (NFE A&E) System is a new national NFE equivalency programme of the Bureau of Non-Formal Education, which provides an alternative means of learning and certification for basically literate Filipinos and foreigners aged 15 years and above, who are unable to avail of the formal school system or who have dropped out of formal elementary or secondary education. The NFE A&E System was developed with funding assistance from the Asian Development Bank as a component of the Philippines Non-Formal Education Project. The flexible approach to learning gives the learners as much control and choice as possible regarding content and sequence. The NFE A&E System uses also a range of alternative delivery modes in order to maximize the flexibility of the programme. The NFE A&E System specifically targets out-of school youth and adults who are basically literate. The decision to focus on young adults rather than children was deliberate as it enabled the curriculum, learning materials, learning process and learning support strategies to be built around adult learning principles and respond to adult learning needs. Source: Guzman, R. J. (2001) Non-formal Education Accreditation and Equivalency System, Japan, ACCU-APPEAL. Adult Education and Learning in Denmark – an Excellent Example Denmark has a relatively well elaborated system of adult education. The system has a wide range of educational offers, a closely knit network of institutions covering the country geographically, a good deal of the offers can be attended free of charge or at rather low charges, nearly all kinds of adult education receive substantial public subsidies and most of the activities are regulated by law leaving a substantial freedom of action to local authorities and institutions. Finally a good deal of the participants in formal adult education is entitled to adult education grant which allows them to take leave from work.
The educational offers range from very informal, non-qualifying courses of community education in a variety of subjects, mostly practical and creative, and folk high school courses over general qualifying adult education at the level of secondary school to a great variety of more or less vocationally oriented courses for just about any imaginable purpose and for virtually any group of professionals. Thousands of classes and courses at established every year to meet the demand. Many different types of educational institutions stand behind the courses. Public educational institutions play a major role, but private non-profit organizations are also important actors – and in some areas there is a place for educational business. The institutional system is comprised by many institutions which are well distributed geographically. Although Denmark is a relatively small country in terms of area and distances it has a very large number of institutions in the field of education. Good deals of the educational offers are free of charge, a public subsidy to adult education is quite normal even if the educational offer is given by a private organization (if it is non-profit). The whole field of adult education is – in one way or the other – governed by the ministry of education. Almost all parts of the education system are regulated by law, be it in details, which is the case of most formal education, or more general as is the case in much general informal education where government influence is limited as far as contents and methods are concerned. In the Danish education system it is a further characteristic that local authorities (regional or local municipality) play an important role (not least because they finance the activities) in filling out the general frameworks of education decided by Parliament and government. And last but not least the institutions of adult education themselves have a rather wide freedom to act as far as the practical organization is concerned. Finally Denmark has a relatively favorable system of subsistence for students in formal adult education. Adults attending full-time education are in many cases entitled to an adult education grant, which corresponds to unemployment benefits in term of money. The adult education is thus able to present a relevant offer of education and learning of virtually any subject-matter and at almost any level within a reasonable geographical distance. Issues and Challenges: What Can We Do to Improve? The role of adult education in creating more equitable development in Malaysia has been in some ways positive. Advances have been made in three areas in particular (a) greater number of service providers for adult programs especially by the government and NGOs, (b) the development of many diverse programs and projects supported by governments, (c) access to professional development training in companies becoming more developed and more structured and with new forms of training being introduced such as work/study, apprenticeship plans etc. The main challenge faced by adult education providers is a lack of coordination among the ministries.
Another problem in adult education in Malaysia is the lack of evaluation of progress and results of programs. There are a lot of programs organized and implemented but there is little effort to evaluate the success of the programs. It is undeniable that there are many programs that has reached the target groups like the ones arranged by agencies like KEMAS and FELDA but there are no independent commission to evaluate them. Most of the programs of adult education use public funds and thus there are supposed to be proper audit and evaluation procedure to check if the programs meets specified target and the funds are used appropriately. There is also the political interest in adult education programs. A program like Biro Tatanegara (BTN) serves mostly as a propaganda program rather than for education. Due to the involvement of political parties in organizing adult education programs, the original purpose is swayed and become a one-way information transmission (though most information transmitted contains only distorted truth). There is a need for a policy on adult education to be instituted at the national level and a coordinating body to be established to ensure effective delivery of adult education programs. On the whole, adult education providers reported that they lacked of resources in implementing adult education programs. The resources include qualified teachers, learning sites, audio-visual aids and reference materials. Among the most frequently cited problem encountered by the providers is a shortage of qualified and experienced educators/trainers. The problem is acute in smaller private sector providers and non-governmental organizations. Besides knowledge of subject matter, the educator/trainer needs to be skilful in designing and facilitating the learning process. Funding is another important issue that resulted in limited applications of computer technology due to the lack of facilities and software. While the government-sponsored programs enjoyed the benefit of ample funding, programs organized by interest groups/NGOs are constrained by the limited funding available. Finally, the effectiveness of the programs offered is another critical concern especially to the stakeholders. Quite often, the programs are planned on an ad-hoc basis rather than on a long–term planning. Also, there is a lack of follow up studies conducted on the programs. This is a common problem in program implementation in Malaysia. So many education programs are being implemented but not many knows if they truly achieve the objectives. Even if there is evaluation, they are mostly done partially and reports tend to positively biased. Conclusion Adult education deserves to receive as much attention as formal education. Programs must be planned and implemented continuously. Authorities and NGOs must play their part to promote the importance of adult learning as a part of lifelong learning. All stages of programs need to be evaluated to ensure that all programs go according to plan and bear the results intended.
REFERENCES Hammond, R. (1973). Evaluation at the local level. Arizona: EDIC Evaluation Center Ltd. Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in action: Applying modern principles of adult education. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Mazanah M. & Associates (2001) Adult and continuing education in Malaysia. Universiti Putra Malaysia. Mohamad, M. (1991). Malaysia: The way forward. Kuala Lumpur: Prime Minister Department. Moore, W. (1991). Introduction to Malaysia. Hong Kong: Odyssey