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Adult Education is human resources development. Human resources development is necessary so that people's affairs can be left in the people's hands. Take, for example, law. Because of the lack of awareness among the people about their rights, duties and opportunities, and because administration including administration of law is conducted in a language not accessible to the people, there was great dependence on law courts and lawyers. Ignorance of law resulted from ignorance of language and literacy. Litigation often resulted in the ruination of both the parties. The purpose of measures underlying the setting up of village panchayats was to reduce the dependence of people on the law courts. But, unfortunately, while this was generally accepted, no effort was made to reduce the production of lawyers. On the contrary, law schools went on multiplying and the production of a large body of lawyers built into the system the antithesis of delivering the legal care of people in their hands.

Prohibition can be taken as another example. While the social reformists give sermons about the harmfulness of drinking, the diehard economists point out the revenue accruing to the public exchequer from this source. Therefore, law against drinking continues to be passed while breweries continue to multiply. It may be that part of the money so accrued to the public exchequer is spent on providing succour to the families ruined by drinking. But this is like killing the neighbour's cow and, when he complains, presenting him with a pair of shoes made of the cowhide.

Economic resources planning divorced from human resources development results in a system which invests the affairs of people in the hands of managers, who are self-appointed through make-believe democratic procedures. The imperialists all over the world have prided themselves in developing the economic resources of underdeveloped countries. Even after their departure, the beneficiaries swear in the name of economic development and work vigorously to maintain the system. Both in the capitalist and the communist countries, one finds systems where the affairs of the people are run by a managerial class. The people everywhere need to be educated about education in all countries, irrespective of achievements of formal educational institutions.

In India, today, the scientific manpower is the third in the world. But this cannot be termed as human resources development. As exploitation of raw material in one country for being processed in and marketed by another cannot be termed as the economic development of that country, similarly creation of cheap exportable educated labour at great cost to the country cannot be called human resources development to the country concerned. Both in technology and education one must develop system appropriate to one's need. One does not make or buy big caps, one gets caps that fit. Similarly a country does not ape big technology, it must have technology appropriate to its needs.

Education can be human resources development when it brings out the perfection inherent in a learner. The learner can thus contribute his mite to the society of which he is a member, while expecting the society to fulfil his needs. Societies built on capital intensive economy develop a pattern of life where profit is shared by a handful of individuals or by a set of managers appointed by the State. Where capital is scarce such an economy is bound to create greater inequalities. A country with surplus population must develop its manpower resources and creates a labour intensive economy. Only then, can it expect full employment and establishment of a society based on distributive justice.

The Institutional education in a country like India has resulted in providing education only for a low percentage of the population. It is responsible, on the one hand, for the widening gap between a few well trained and millions of illiterates and, on the other, a large primary school enrolment and an equally large dropout, stagnation and wastage. It is inflexible, textbook-bound, non-competitive and largely irrelevant to the needs and aspirations of the society. Merely multiplying such schools is neither likely to ensure universalisation of education nor obliteration of adult illiteracy.

Thus it will be seen that adult education has a role different from the time and textbook-bound certified education imparted in the school. It is to make the adult learner aware of the factors which limit his opportunities of free development, thus enabling him to manage his own affairs. The alphabetic literacy, which is being most talked about in developing countries of Asia and Africa is only one of the means, however important it may be, for attaining this end.

In a country like India, the declining adult education is intimately connected with the declining autonomy of individuals and groups to manage their affairs. It is, therefore, important that the factors inhibiting literacy are examined with care.

The factors inhibiting literacy can be seen from different angles. If one takes into consideration the geographical factor one finds that the physical geography is responsible for disparate groups living in isolated areas. This is particularly true of the tribal population. Geographical factors which isolate one group from another also inhibit dispersion of linguistic elements facilitating standardisation. Thus geographical factors which restrict the scale of communication become a major contributing factor for illiteracy.

The linguistic factor is partly a consequence of the natural regions and partly of stratified society. Multiple languages divided into regional and social dialects, written and spoken, and formal and colloquial styles are a major deterrent to literacy, particularly when a foreign tongue enjoys the highest status in the society. Multiplicity of scripts adds a further dimension to this problem. The divergence of the language of education from the language of administration, on the one hand, and the language of mass communication, on the other, inhibits literacy. Bi-and multi-lingualism pose serious challenges to the students of adult literacy. For the linguistic minorities there may at times be need for literacy. For the linguistic minorities there may at times be need for literacy in two languages.

The linguistic factor is intimately related to the cultural factor. The Indian languages belonging to four or more language families indicate the diverse ethnicity of the people speaking them. In fact maintainance of multilingulism in India to a large extent is due to the will to maintain distinct ethnic identity of groups. The history of the development of Indian languages show that when a language or a variety of language, which becomes prestigious because of its being the career of all knowledge, is confined to a minority upper strata, simplified spoken languages emerge. They act as sluices which carry the knowledge so confined to the people in India, where even in early times literacy was limited. There is a long tradition of oral transmission of knowledge; social life and leadership was not linked with the ability to read and write. By and large the society which was illiterate was educated as a result of the oral transmission of the accumulated wisdom and there were even uneducated among the scribes, those know how to read and write

The economic and political factors which brought about a near complete break with the past tradition have played a major role in the accentuation of illiteracy. It has even resulted in the blockade of natural communication between the literate educated and the illiterate, thus converting the large mass of illiterates into uneducated. Economically, with the British take-over of the country, the village self-sufficiency based on pursuits of agriculture and handicrafts, became the first casualty. With the imperialist policy trying to exploit the natural resources of the country and using them to the best interest of the British, very little was available for distribution among the local populace. With the scarce resources and growing demand, only the sectors favoured by the rulers got the better of it and it resulted in the inequal distribution of resources. The society was divided between the privileged few and the underprivileged many. The upper class interest in the stratified Indian society and the interest of the economically privileged became one and both conspired to perpetuate an elitist rule. This led to the policy of illiteracy and ignorance even though there was external allegiance to education by all concerned.

The political factor also aided illiteracy. The centralised civil service was meant for the British. But what ever little was opened up for the Indians required rigorous and prolonged preparation and was only accessible to the privileged. With the advent of the British all Hindu, Muslim and Sikh educational institutions which provided grass root level literacy and education closed down but the secular education began mainly through the missionaries in an alien tongue which further inhibited literacy. As through the thousand year old literacy tradition was nullified by this process. The alignment of the church and the State at this stage resulted in (a) a small group of Christians separated from the majority of Indians divided by the worship of many gods; and (b) a small English knowing elite separated from the majority of Indian divided by the use of many tongues. This excessive learning on English naturally resulted in large scale illiteracy and limited education.

If adult education is to be attempted in a serious sense in the above background, then it will entail radical change of attitudes and existing educational programmes. Adult education can neither be effective through formal institutions nor would it succeed by institutionalising it. An adult literacy curriculum has to be built on the expressed needs of a community. The needs as felt by the Community and as observed by a trained social scientist together constitute the expressed need. To that extent adult education cannot be centrally directed and its curriculum cannot be uniform. However, the objectives need to be selled out and instead of trying to fit the objectives in a rigid time mould, time must be found for the attainment of the objectives. It is in this context that a core or minimum curriculum for adult education is suggested below. This may, however, be modified on the basis of experience of adult education workers.

A Core Minimum Curriculum

A core curriculum of Adult Education must have a component of spoken language. It is necessary for both problem sharing and culture sharing and forms a necessary condition for establishing rapport with the adult learners.

A. Dialogue with the target audience about their aspirations, attitudes, perceptions, priorities, problems and suggested solution.

Emphasis on causal relationship. For example, Fire, Flood, Exploitation, Molestation, etc., are not acts of God, but caused by natural phenomena.

I. Ability to comprehend spoken word:

II. Ability to make an oral presentation of grievances/needs.

B. Ability to interpret illustrations :
Picture of a known object-emphasis on writing/narrating. Picture of an unknown object-Emphasis on clarity of meaning/concept.

Superficiality of the play way-(i) A Picture 'the cat taking pictures' created great
confusion in the learners.

(ii) hut in TV (Orissa experiment, where none
could identify the hut which was taken out from a TV frame).

C. Recognition of symbols :

In isolation

In combination-Words, phrases and sentences.

Conventional arrangement

Symbols-their superfluity and inadequacy of sound-symbol fit.

i. Dictionary order

ii. Pictorial presentation : 'A' for apple.

iii. Key word presentation----
(ma rama bara ramara rabara)

iv. Sentence as the starting point----
(lala tala la. lala la tala la)

D. Ability to sign one's name.

E. Ability to read:

Why Read ?

1. To acquaint oneself with tradition

2. To satisfy curiousity

3. To obtain information

4. To acquire knowledge

5. To broaden outlook

6. To get an understanding of the relationship between immediate society, the
country, and the world.

7. To develop critical thinking

8. To solve individual, social and cultural problems (including helping children at
home in their studies)

9. To secure moral and spiritual guidance

10. To advance one's profession.


Simplified simple/complex materials are to be given to the neoliterate in a graded sequence.

Material suited to each of the above needs is to be chosen. An illustrative list is as follows :

Matters relating to health, sanitation, civic problems (Rights and Duties), political pamphlets, local newspapers, Governmental forms, notifications, road sign, simple job-specific material, puranas, fictional literature.

F. Ability to write:

Application to various District/State Authorities, Banks and FIR to Police.

Filling in different categories of forms-Money Order, Railways Reservation, etc.

Writing letters to near and dear relatives and friends. Simple narration of events and experiences.

G. To sum: Numbers and Numerals: The four operations. (Relevant to one's job or

Basic idea of decimal system.

Currency-Rupees and Paise.

Weights and Measures-Kilogram, Quintal and Ton.

Foot, Inch, Yard, Acre and Hectare.

Time-Hour, Minute and Second.

Days of the Week and months in a year.

Distance-Kilometer, Furlong and Mile.


H. Community Singing/Sports