Adult Education in India

In accordance with National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, the Central Government has authorized the “New India Literacy Programme” for the fiscal years 2022–2027, which will now include all facets of adult education in the nation. “Education For All” will henceforth be referred to as “Adult Education.”

According to the 2011 census, there were 25.76 crore people in the nation who were illiterate and were aged 15 or older (9.08 crore men and 16.68 crore women). According to the government, there are currently 18.12 crore adult illiterates in the nation.

The New India Literacy Programme’s goal is to teach fundamental reading comprehension skills as well as important life skills like money management, computer literacy, business skills, affordable healthcare and understanding, child care and education, and family welfare. It also aims to impart practical training, basic education, and lifelong learning.

Adult Education

The idea of adult education differs from nation to nation. Over time, the idea of adult education in India has evolved. In general, the 3Rs—reading, writing, and mathematics—were the key areas of emphasis throughout the pre-independence era.  Following independence, continuous learning replaced basic literacy as the focus of adult learning.

The following five phases—which describe the development of the notion of adult education in India—must be understood:

  • Concept of Basic Literacy (1882-1947)  
  • Concept of Social Education (1948-64)
  • Concept of Functional Literacy (1965-77)  
  • Concept of Developmental Literacy (1978-2008)  
  • Concept of Lifelong Learning (2009 onwards)

The Concept of Basic Literacy (1882-1947)  

Before India gained freedom, Britishers ruled the country. The growth of night schools served as the foundation for the emergence of the idea of basic literacy. The basic literacy program covered reading, writing, and math concepts.

The curriculum had a two-year duration. A distinct curriculum was created with adult education in mind. In addition to teaching the 3Rs—reading, writing, and arithmetic—the program also covered instruction on health, cleanliness, and first aid, as well as important historical accounts.

 The Concept of Social Education (1948-64)

In 1952, the Community Development Program was combined with the notion of social education, which had been developed in 1948. The idea wasn’t immediately obvious. A committee was established in 1963 with Mohan Sinha Mehta as its chairman. This group created the idea of social education. It placed more focus on social issues, and literacy was one of those issues.

Social education was a comprehensive programme of community improvement through community action, as specified in the First Five Year Plan. The following are some of the goals of social education:

  • to cultivate a sense of communal service and to make people aware of their civic obligations.
  • To offer instruction in crafts as a pastime and a way to improve one’s financial situation.
  • To offer traditional dances, theater, music, poetry, recitation, and other forms of impromptu self-expression as cultural and leisure services.
  • to instill a tolerable grasp of the learning tools—reading, writing, and basic math—and to inspire curiosity.
  • To offer resources for continuing education through clubs, libraries, study groups, and organizations like People’s Colleges.

The Concept of Functional Literacy (1965-77)

Government officials and policy makers have now acknowledged that knowing how to read, write, and do basic math is not enough; you also need to have other talents. Consequently, the idea of functional literacy came into being in the 1960s.

Education that is “integrated with the learner’s employment and closely connected to improvement” was described as functional literacy. In 1968, functional literacy was put into practice. Its foundation was occupational literacy.

The Concept of Developmental Literacy (1978-2008)

Paulo Freire’s idea of conscientization peaked in the early 1970s. It significantly impacted adult education. He highlighted the need for critical thought and action that results in change. He supported students’ active involvement in the learning process. He believed that adult education teachers should serve as a vehicle for this conversation so that students may learn on their own. This idea broadened the possibilities for utility. Throughout this time, the idea of development literacy developed. It was understood that literacy should encompass more than just acquiring the fundamentals of reading, writing, and mathematics. Furthermore, it ought to aid in the freedom and whole development of human beings. The significance of social reality awareness was emphasized.

The Concept of Lifelong Learning (2009 onwards)

Every aspect of life has been impacted by globalization. More closely than ever before, it has gotten the globe. It has increased opportunities while also posing several obstacles. On International Literacy Day in September 2009, the Indian government announced the commencement of the Saakshar Bharat Mission in recognition of the new challenges posed by the globalized world and the significance of functional literacy in it. Its objectives include “substantially reducing the proportion of illiterate people in India and promoting a culture of lifelong learning within communities.”

The adult education programme in India has advanced significantly. It began with the 3 R’s.  The development of a fixed quantity of reading abilities was the focus of the whole text. Practical literacy was established as a result of this realization. The process of learning never ends. One must constantly update in a culture that is driven by technology. As a result, knowledge is practiced. In a way, literacy serves as a tool rather than an end. The emphasis is mostly on applying skills to daily life.

Every person has different literacy needs. 

For example, if someone moves from a rural to an urban location, they must learn new skills to adapt to their new environment. These abilities come from lifelong study.

Objective of Adult Education

The objectives of adult education are to: improve an individual’s quality of life and enable him or her to grow up and realize his or her opportunities for self; improve the lives of households, groups, communities, and states; encourage peace and collective coexistence in the multi-cultural globalized world; and increase the process of development and prosperity of the multiple countries and the global community as a whole. Adult education has three main goals, which are described below.

  • Providing literacy instruction in a variety of subjects: This involves teaching fundamental literacy as well as scientific literacy, financial literacy, technological literacy, constitutional education, computer knowledge, and other subjects. At higher stages of your educational endeavors, you will discover more about various ways of writing.
  • Creating understanding of diverse issues and topics: This includes creating consciousness of one’s own self, neighborhood, community, and country; of interpersonal, financial, governmental, historical, ecologic, experiential, health, and hygiene issues; and, among many other things, of harmony, social assistance, and sense of harmony expansion and development of the individual, family, community, nation, and world.
  • Increasing functionality: It entails using one’s personal, group, neighborhood, commercial, national, and worldwide understanding, abilities, attitudes, practices, and assets to institutions, solve problems, encourage more people to participate in different activities, and bring about socioeconomic, financial, cultural, and political transformation to improve one’s general level of living or standard of living in one’s community, nation, and the world.

Importance of Adult Education

Without adult education and adult literacy, it would be impossible to achieve the breadth and rate of economic growth and social development that we need. Hence, every program for economic and social development should prioritize an adult education and literacy component. There are several reasons why adult education is necessary, including:

  • To end lack of education: Adult education gives the vast majority of illiterate people who were unable to receive an education during their school years fresh hope. A little more than half of our population still struggles with misinformation and illiteracy. Adult education is crucial in this situation to combat knowledge and illiteracy.
  • Stop exploiting people: in India, the wealthy are becoming richer while the poor are getting poorer. Illiteracy is one of the key causes of this economic imbalance. Uneducated people are compelled to perform menial labor. They chose to reside in misery and receive poor pay. They work hard to make ends meet. For these people, adult education has been shown to be quite beneficial. They get more educated as a result of pursuing education. They learn about their responsibilities and the just compensation they deserve, which aids them in putting an end to the continued abuse of them.
  • More Parental involvement: An educated adult is considerably better equipped to raise his children. He can instruct his children in every decision since he is more informed and smart.
  • Improve life: Adult education offers the possibility to acquire and broaden knowledge, which leads to greater employment chances. A better lifestyle and greater spending power result from improved employment opportunities.
  • Women’s empowerment: Previously, women were only permitted to perform domestic chores and work in the kitchen. In many groups and places in India, young girls are still kept within the home. They developed into helpless adults who relied on the male family members. Programs for adult education provide people the chance to take control of their lives and develop independence.