Coactivity: Philology, Educology / Santalka: Filologija, Edukologija, Vol 15, No 2 (2007)

Opportunities of Continuing Adult Education

Lidija Ušeckienė
Rima Ališauskienė


After becoming the member state of the European Union, Lithuania undertook all the obligations of a member state. One of them is the implementation of The Lisbon Strategy aiming at the worlds most dynamic and competitive knowledge– based economy by 2010. Under the strategy, a stronger economy will drive job creation, sustainable development, and social inclusion. These changes demand the modernisation of education systems in the E U states, Lithuania among them. To achieve this objective, political forces came to an agreement on the future of Lithuanian education. In 2003 The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania approved of National Education Strategy 2003–2012. This strategy is special not only because it is based on the experiences of the reform, addresses current and future world’s challenges and opportunities, maintains links with other strategic national reforms, but also emphasises efforts to ensure quality lifelong education for Lithuanian population and striving to become a partner in modern knowledge-based economy. Therefore, an extensive discussion on lifelong education strategies on individual and institution levels in all spheres of social and personal life has started in the E U and Lithuania. Nowadays lifelong learning is not just one aspect of education and training; it gradually is becoming the most important principle in the continuum of complex learning contexts. Such vision must be implemented this decade.
The object of the research: the preconditions for the development of continuing adult education. The aim of the research: to examine the peculiarities of the preconditions for the development of continuing adult education in Pakruojis region. The methods of the research: analysis of references and documents on education; an anonymous survey in written form (a questionnaire); statistical analysis of data. The sample. The research was conducted in Pakruojis region in January-April, 2006. 300 respondents of different age, educational background, gender, and social status were surveyed.
One of the major preconditions for the development of continuing adult education is the individual’s motivation to learn. It was ascertained that about three quarters (76 % ) of the respondents have learnt recently, the rest have not. The major factors that determine adults’ learning are increasing requirements in labour market, a need for self-development, expanding horizons and striving to gain more knowledge, have better career opportunities, consequently, improve welfare. The factors having least influence on adults’ learning are the opportunity of the transition to a new career and the possibility to interrelate with new people. It is important to analyse the reasons why adults do not learn. The most common reasons that prevent them from studies are as follows (in priority order): the lack of funds, it is difficult to combine work and studies, it is too late to learn, and it is difficult to combine studies and family matters. Hence, the reasons restricting the opportunities of continuing adult education are closely related to the research data. The respondents indicate the lack of funds for studies. This reflects the same funding problem that institutions organising and conducting adult education face. Therefore, financial possibilities in adult education are a sore problem not only to individuals, but to various organizations and the state as well. The respondents’ claim that it is difficult to combine work and studies reveals that employers are not concerned to encourage and organise employees’ learning; in the circumstances, such career givers’ policy is harmful both to employees and their education, and employers themselves as the quality of human resources comprises staff education, competences, skills, etc. The argument that it is too late to learn is rather abstract. It shows that people are not innovative; they are not interested in new developments and are rather indifferent to changing life. Presumably, this reason is influenced by fairly difficult social life conditions in towns, small towns, and villages.
The answers to the question how often respondents have taken in-service training courses during the last five years are very different and reflect the same, not positive tendencies. The respondents usually gain higher qualifications in Training Centres and workplaces because there those, who are involved in in-service training, have an opportunity to improve their competencies several times a year. What study programs do respondents usually choose? The most popular ones among adults are computer literacy courses, and then follow professional development and foreign language courses; some respondents seek for managerial skills. The most efficient way to disseminate information on in-service events is to spread it via the Internet and offices, whereas, local press and e-mail turned out to be less effective placements. The need to change style, methods, ways, and forms of work is influenced by competitive labour market and the need for self-development. The wish to work in some other way or follow the colleagues’ experience (which might be inner development factors) and the directions of the administration have less influence on the change of employees’ work style.
The research attempts to reveal the problems which are urgent to the whole Lithuanian adult education system. The major problem is the same as in institution-level activities - the lack of funds and funding. The respondents claim that because of the lack of funds on the one hand, teaching/learning technical materials and curriculum are on the lower level, on the other hand, potential learners can not afford to study.
The absence of coherent adult education policy is rather often mentioned. The respondents indicate that they miss the coordinated system, coherence, financially reasonable posing and implementing of objectives in order “not to make learning only a learner’s business” as one respondent claimed. Experts approve of such an opinion e. g.:“ there is lack of interaction on state-level initiatives: there is no common data base on activities, projects, etc.”
Another very important group of problems is related to subjective factors of adult education: the dissemination of the idea of adult education and promoting the culture of adult education. Half of the respondents indicated that officials lack understanding about the importance of adult education. Even more of them indicated employers’ unwillingness to develop employees’ qualifications and adults’ lack of motivation to learn as reasonable factors. The motivation level in the country is low: the data of the inhabitant survey revealed that one-third of the total would like to learn and only one-fourth of those who do not study or have not studied recently would like to do it. Employers’ attitude is an important factor especially in the situation when there is neither standardised acknowledgement system of even formal education certificates nor the system of requirements for qualifications in various fields, which would enable employers encourage and evaluate employers’ qualifications regardless their subjective opinion. Employers’ attitudes determine adult education opportunities especially in private sector. The data of the inhabitant survey proved employers’ low interest in promoting employees’ in-service training: a motive “an employer encourages” was indicated only by 16 percent of those who learn and 6 percent of those who do not learn, but would like to.

Article in Lithuanian

Article in: English

Article published: 2011-04-15

Keyword(s): lifelong learning; motive learning of adult; education politics

DOI: 10.3846/coactivity.2007.18

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Coactivity: Philology, Educology / Santalka: Filologija, Edukologija ISSN 2351-714X, eISSN 2335-7711
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