“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.“ (Gallileo)
“No job”, a friend, geography teacher, has said to me recently, “I am thinking about to establish an NGO and offer some trainings for adults, there is nothing difficult and complicated here at all”!
This way of thinking of my friend made me write this blog on who offers trainings for adults, in what way and according to which programmes and documents they are implemented and what are their learning outcomes.
On one hand, there are numerous strategies, plans, directives, recommendations, and so on, according to which adult education is significant component of life-long learning system. At UNESCO General Conference back in 1976, the concept of adult education was defined in a way that it involves the set of all organized forms of education and learning – processes, contents, levels and methods, regardless of whether a person continues education or not, develops their capabilities or upgrades their general and vocational competences. Adult education has been frequently described as “the second chance” which is available for adults if they want to determine the level of their knowledge and skills so as to become more competitive on the labour market. In the last decades, there have been intensive talks on adult education as a means of socio-economic growth, and in the last few years as important means for getting out of economic crisis.
However, on the other hand, there are questions which reflect the situation in practice – Who is really engaged in adult education? Who provides permission for delivery of training programmes for adults? Who tests acquired knowledge and skills and who issues certifying documents? … These are only few out of numerous questions which describe the practice of adult education in a country. Therefore, we have to assess them to see how much our countries actually ensure to adult education system so as to obtain the best possible response of this system, how they use its potential and whether they really recognize the benefits of this system of education?
For more than a decade in Montenegro, there have been discussions about the significance of andragogical training of all teachers/trainers/instructors (hereinafter: teaching staff) working in adult education. In 2006, the Council for Adult Education adopted the Programme of Andragogical Training of Teaching Staff Working in Adult Education. The goal of this Programme is primarily the familiarization of teaching staff with psychological and social characteristics of adults in the process of education and learning. The content of the Programme involves seven modules aimed at communication in adult education, organization, planning and programming in adult education, moderation of education process and group dynamics, methods of adult education, evaluation and self-evaluation in education process and contemporary models of education and learning of adults.
Since 2003, adult education in Montenegro has been regulated by the Law on Adult Education, while the significance of andragogical training of teaching staff has been recognized by this Law which prescribes the obligation of everybody who works in adult education to undergo andragogical training.
Centre for Vocational Education and Training for a number of years has been implementing trainings for teaching staff, according to the Programme of Andragogical Training. So far, over 200 teachers have been trained. However, much greater number than the number of trained stuff actually work in adult education, predominantly at licenced adult education organizers (there are 90 of them).
In compliance with a bylaw, the Ministry of Education carries out licencing of institutions in adult education, according to training programmes adopted by the competent Council. The programmes contain precise learning outcomes, which are primarily based on knowledge and skills needed in practice for performing tasks within one qualification.
There is no department for andragogy at Montenegrin universities and besides the Programme of Andragogical Training of Teaching Staff, implemented by the team of adult education specialists from the Centre for Vocational Education and Trainings, there is no other way to systematically and comprehensively, according to practical guidelines and instructions for work, prepare teaching staff for work with adults.
In comparison with continuous professional development of teachers in formal education system, regarded from systemic level, very little attention is unfairly dedicated to the teaching staff working in adult education. There is an impression among the public that there is no difference between the work in adult education and child education. There is nothing difficult and complicated here at all, as my friend said, quoted at the beginning of the blog. Who cares for the experience of adults, who cares for their education needs, what about functional character of knowledge and skills which have to be very soon applicable in practice, what about so many things which make adult education if not difficult and complicated, but specific and different in comparison to education of children and youth?! There is no forum of adult education specialists in Montenegro, whose voice would be heard, as only several individuals would be in its composition.
What can EAAL bring to us?
European Agenda for Adult Learning (EAAL) is an opportunity for all countries which really want to strengthen their adult education system, to support the efforts for empowerment of all segments which make unavoidable part of quality assurance in this area. Montenegro, through the project EPALE National Support Service for Montenegro, has initiated preparatory activities on the creation of Andragogical Guide for teachers who deliver the Programme of Elementary Functional Literacy of Adults. The Guide is being developed with the aim to provide additional andragogical support to teachers in the process of achieving literacy of adults. The Guide will be available on EPALE platform in September 2015.
Considering the focus of EAAL on non-qualified or low-qualified persons and endangered groups, Montenegro has envisaged for the following two years the implementation of a range of ideas which will be aimed at informing primarily these categories of citizens on how to use adult education as a means for their professional development and exit the crisis (Guide through the Non-Formal Education System, establishment of a team of multipliers, development of a publication on adult education, preparation of a short video on adult education with examples from practice, media campaign and promotion, days of adult education and learning, and so on).
Author of the text:
VET CENTER MONTENEGRO