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investigating poverty alleviation strategies through the use of adult education programmes in Ughelli North L.G.A. of Delta State
Background of the Study
Every government strives through investment to achieve development for the well being of her citizens. Development according to Nyerere (2006) is the expansion of man‟s own consciousness and therefore of his own power over himself, his environment and his society. Ofuebe (1992) defined it as a phenomenon in which individual and society interact with their physical, biological and inter-human environment, transforming them for their own betterment and in the process, lesson that are learnt are passed on to future generation to enable them improve their capacity to make further valuable changes. Development must be dedicated to the improvement of all round well being of people but it can only make meaning when the people for whom the development is meant for appreciate and understand the value of the services rendered. Hence, Sesay (1997) notes that development can be energy-sapping, time consuming and a waste of effort and resources, if the people for whom the development services are being provided are kept underdeveloped to the extent that they lack understanding of the value of the services provided and hence do not care to maintain and sustain them.
It is evident from the above that development is meaningful only when it is sustained. Hence World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) defined sustainable development as the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development must involve an all round development of the individual and the society. International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), (2006:89) notes that the essence of sustained and integrated balanced development is to achieve social, economic and political justice that leads to the liberation of mankind and in so doing eradicates such scourges as mass poverty and mass illiteracy. It is therefore evident that every nation has the preoccupation of providing sustainable development for her citizens.
Nigeria is one of the developing nations of the world with communities that are still highly underdeveloped. Eboh, Okoye and Ayichi (1995) report that about two-thirds of 85.5 million citizens of Nigeria still live in an estimated 97,000 rural communities. UNICEF (1990) then states that the lives of these people living in these communities are characterized by poverty, misery, morbidity and underdevelopment. Their income remains low and agriculture which is their major preoccupation has been on the decline because of lack of mechanization. Despite these handicaps, these communities still occupy strategic position in the development of the nation. UNICEF (1990) further notes that the rural sector of the economy provides employment for about 70 per cent of the nation‟s labour force and the inhabitants produce 90 per cent of the food marketed and consumed in Nigeria.
Despite all the development policies and plans rolled out by the colonial government and the Nigerian government to develop the rural sectors of the economy, the communities are still underdeveloped in most cases. Koinyan (1991) states that the poor state of development reflects cumulative policy neglect and faulty planning from colonial period because there was no systematic programme for development, rather the development policy was an extraction of surplus from the communities to meet imperial priorities. Nwosu (1990) also opined that people living in rural areas are poor and still experience underdevelopment. The poverty he further notes is not because they are deficient in natural endowments but rather, as a result of the fact that they lack the potentialities to effectively and efficiently tap fully their valuable gifts of nature. One of the major ways by which the potentialities can be developed is through broad based education.
People‟s intellect must be brought to bear on development, as such there is need to empower people for development through education. Without intellectual development, all efforts towards development will be a waste. This is the idea behind human capital as a development strategy. People must be encouraged to help themselves to develop, using their intellect. Education at this point becomes a pre-requisite for development. Education is an instrument with which to change structures and ideologies that keep people subordinate. Through education people can gain access to resources, contribute to decision making, gain control over their lives, gain self respect and improve on their societal values and image. These are conditions for development. Nyerere (2006:78) in support of human capital development notes that “people cannot be developed; they can only develop themselves. Man develops himself by what he does, by making his own decisions, by increasing his own knowledge and ability, and by his full participation as an equal in the life of the community he lives”. Wolfensohn (2000) also reports that South Korea, Malaysia and Mexico have given us ample evidence to demonstrate that broad-based education is associated with a wide range of indicators of well being, including a nation‟s increased productivity and competitiveness as well as social and political progress. Education is a basic human right and frees the human mind from ignorance and slavery for developmental purpose.
If education is an instrument for development, Adult Education which is an aspect of education has the potentiality of contributing to development through the empowerment of individuals politically, socially and economically. To Omolewa (1981) and Aderinoye (1997) adult education is an organized and sequential learning experience designed to meet the felt needs of the adults. Nzeneri (2002:7) opined that it is in adult education that emphasis is placed on lifelong learning, education as a process and agent of liberation, a tool for adjustment, for self and national development, for cultural awareness and integration, for conscientization and group dynamism. He then defined adult education as “any education given to adults based on their social, political, cultural and economic needs or problems to enable them adjust fully to changes and challenges in their lives and society.” Adult Education is an empowerment strategy through which adults can uplift themselves socially and economically to enable them participate fully in the development of their communities.
The development goals of adult education are viewed by Garcia and Tuan (1994) at three levels namely:
1. On the first level, adult education should seek to resolve the pressing problems confronting participants in everyday life in connection with their survival, their Economic situation and the quality of their lives
2.The second level should seek to integrate concrete activities in a corresponding Framework of medium and long range goals to transform society.
3.Initiatives on the third level help the popular masses become social agents capable of exercising their rights as modern citizens.
Adult Education is concentrating on programs and strategies that will help reduce poverty and facilitate development. Jorge (1996) states that educational processes like adult education are geared to strengthen popular organization, citizenship movement, the popular economic sector and local community development. Recent studies (Picon, 1990; and Palma, 1994) prove that adult education is the least conventional branch of education, the one with the greatest degree of heterogeneity and the one that is most closely associated with social and political development (Rivero, 1993).
The high priority given to adult education in the developmental process in some countries was brought to light when Jorge (1996) notes that in Latin America the non-governmental adult education sector took a highly critical stand on formal schooling and distanced itself from public education. According to him the rejection of the formal school model was as a result of the crisis faced by primary and secondary education. He further states that during this period emphasis was placed on adult education, not only in the area of political orientations but also in the search for methods corresponding to the aims of social reformation. The role of adult education in raising the income of individuals for development is not in dispute. Studies on rate of return on investment in Adult Basic Education (ABE) in Indonesia, Ghana and Bangladesh show that in Indonesia an estimated rate of return to investment of about 25 per cent; in Ghana an estimated private rate of return of 43 percent for females and 24 per cent for males, along with a social rate of return of 18 per cent for females and 14 per cent for males while in Bangladesh an estimated average private rate of return as high as 37 per cent were reported (World Bank, 1986; 1999; and 2001), No 6304. No matter how uncertain these estimates are, it is obvious that investment in adult education programmes are productive and can increase the income of participants which can further be invested for developmental purposes.
The role of adult education is to empower people for change and development. This is why the developmental roles of adult education according to Nyerere (2006) incorporate anything that enlarges man‟s understanding, activates them, helps them to make their own decisions and to implement those decisions for themselves. In the same vein the aim of education including adult education according to Fafunwa (1974) includes the development of practical skills, character training, teaching respect for elders, teaching the values of honest labour, inculcating a sense of belonging and community spirit and promoting cultural heritage.
This study will determine the strategies Adult Education Programme will adopt to achieve sustainable development. Various challenges or problems that can inhibit Adult Education Programme from achieving sustainable development will be discussed. The problems in communities include – lack of good roads, illiteracy, low income, unemployment, poor electricity supply, degraded environment, absence of portable water and lack of adequate political structures and knowledge.
Nigerian government in recent times has made huge investments in education. However, it is disheartening that these investments are mainly in the areas of primary, secondary and tertiary education neglecting the area of adult and non-formal education. There has been progressive decline in Nigerian government‟s capacity to implement projects that respond to the needs of adult education in terms of personnel, funding, collaboration and methodology. It is against this background of underdevelopment of Nigerian communities and the critical role of education generally and adult education specifically in the development of these communities that the researcher intends to identify specifically what adult education can do and what it has done in achieving sustainable development.
Statement of the problem