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close this bookAgricultural Extension: Guidelines for Extension Workers in Rural Areas (SKAT; 1994; 298 pages)
View the documentPreface
View the documentA few words on this English edition:
View the documentImpressum
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentIntroduction to the Guidelines
View the documentCommon Difficulties
Open this folder and view contentsQuestions List
close this folderTheory Chapters
View the documentA Definition of Extension
View the documentB Communication
View the documentC Value Concepts - Value Systems
View the documentD Functions of Extension
View the documentE Animation / Organizational Development
View the documentF Adult Education
View the documentG Transmission of Information
View the documentH Problem Solving Assistance
View the documentI Developing Extension Topics
View the documentJ Extension Approaches
View the documentK Farming Systems Research (FSR)
View the documentL Goal Oriented Project Planning
View the documentM Dialogue in Extension
View the documentN Recommendations for the Writing of Reports

F Adult Education

1. Some Thoughts About Education

Part of the nature of education is that it is a continuous process. People learn from their environment and their relationships and gain habits, knowledge and values. We distinguish between developing the personality ("internal" education or education of consciousness) and gaining knowledge and skills ("external" education or action oriented education). Although these two types of education cannot be kept apart, we shall be referring to them in this section.

It is also part of the nature of education that it aims to achieve a given objective and is therefore based on a certain ideology, a specific attitude. In other words, adult education - just like any other activity, - adopts either an approving and supporting attitude or a disapproving and negative one to the value systems operating.

The most important thing is that adult educators are fully aware of their own value systems. This allows them to recognize and appreciate other attitudes in the local people involved.

2. A Special Feature of Adult Education

Social science does not see the differences in learning behavior of children and adults as inborn characteristics but rather as different development phases of the person and their circumstances (Doring, K.W.; 1938: p. 118 ff.).

Characteristics of the learning adult:

Adults are in practical life situations

-> they learn with a goal in mind, in a problem-oriented way, planning to use what they have learnt; comparing their performance with others in the learning group is not important to them

Adults bring along their previous

- > new information must be matched with expectations and experience

Adults are more mature, more responsible

- > they want to decide on their further education themselves

Adults take part voluntarily in education

- > they have high demands on the content, method and programmes relevance of the education

The learning adult has the following demands:

· An adult wants to be free to choose the educational objective or to participate in establishing it
· An adult wants to be treated at his/her own level of competence and experience
· An adult wants to be able to connect what s/he learns with practical work
· An adult wants to participate actively in the education sessions (ask questions, hold discussions, contribute experience).

The adult is the subject and not the object of adult education

Adult education can take various forms, from clearly-structured groups (adult evening classes, seminars, courses) and media-linked forms (radio, TV, newspapers) through to informal opportunities of learning (theatre, discussion groups, panel discussions). Here we shall be dealing only with adult education in structured groups. To begin with, let us take a look at those participating in adult education:


3. Aims of Adult Education

Internal adult education aims to develop the personality (creating awareness) promotes the intellectual and spiritual development of the person.

External adult education (action oriented) gives people new insights and skills, enabling them to take part in new forms of activity.

4. Spheres of Adult Education

Between creating awareness and action-oriented education, adult education may have a variety of objectives.

Awareness Creating ("internal" education)

· Development of the personality
· Modes of behavior
· Improvement of communication
. Reflection on an action
· Help for solving of problems in groups Gaining skills Gaining knowledge
· Transferring information
· Action-oriented education ("external" education)


5. Problem-Solvin Assistance in Adult Education

Adult education as assistance to problem-solving aims to support the participating adults

- in problem analysis
- to compare their own problems with similar problems of others
- no longer to feel lost
- to widen their horizon
- to strengthen their feelings of self-esteem
- to stand up for themselves better
- in helping to find a solution
- to introduce new ways of solving a problem
- to help reveal possible consequences of actions
- to transfer knowledge and teach skills
- to offer assistance in taking decisions

6. Motivation in Adult Education

What is it that motivates adults to continue their education?


Motivation in adults comes on the one hand from their own initiative but it can also be encouraged by those organizing adult education, by

· Appealing to the adult's curiosity . Awakening their interest
· Calling meetings and stimulating discussion by asking appropriate questions
· Demonstrating alternatives to the adults' existing lifestyle

The objective of human learning is not a particular information or knowledge. The objective is rather a change in the learner's way of gaining insights, based on the perception of new relationships and linkages. (Jean Piaget)

7. The Principles for Adult Education


Questions an adult educator must ask himself:

Direct adult education at clearly-defined target groups.

Whom are we / should we be addressing (men, women, whole families, existing or new groups ?)


What are the target group's main problems? Who defines them?

Tackle relevant problems in adult education.


How can the participants contribute to the educational process? (By having a say in the choice of content and method, by voicing their expectations and questions, talking about their experiences, discussing...).

Make sure that participants take an active part in educational events.


Respect the adult's self-responsibility.

To what extent do we allow adults to select from a range of educational possibilities? (As opposed to confronting them with a set curriculum.)

8. Four Stens when Planninng Educational Events

1. Target Group


- Who is to be addressed?


- What are the target group's interests?

2. Objective


- What objective is to be achieved?

3. Tonic


- What topics are to be discussed?


- Into what steps should they be sub-divided?


- How can the participants identify with the topic?

4. Method


- Which senses are to be appealed to?


- Is the emphasis to be on the intellectual, the practical or the emotional level (head, hand or heart)?


- What aids are to be used?


- How can theory best be linked with practice?


Doring, K.W.; 1983: Lehren in der Erwachsenenbildung. Beltz, Weinheim/Basel.

Mager, R.F.; 1977: Motivation und Lernerfolg. Beltz Bibliothek 15, Weinheim/Basel.

Schweizerische Vereinigung fur Erwachsenenbildung; 1977 Das Gruppengesprach. Zurich und Luzern.

Freire P.; 1973: Padagogik der Unterdruckten. Rororo 6830, Hamburg.

Illich, I.; 1973: Entschulung der Gesellschaft. Rororo 6828, Hamburg.

Hope, A. and Timmel, S.; 1985: Training for Transformation. Mambo Press, Gweru, Zimbabwe.

GRAAP; 1984: Pour une pedagogic de l'autopromotion. Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso.

Written and compiled by: Ernst Bolliger, Tonino Zellweger

Related Keywords

Pointers to the GTZ - Manual

1.2 Training

Volume 1:

4.2 Group Counselling

62 Behavior and behavior modification

4.6 Courses

84 Structuring of learning processes

E Animation/Organizational Development

90 The diffusion of innovations

G Transmission of Information

110 Group extension


Volume 2:


221 D6: Creating awareness in extension


241 D7: Pedagogic approach to self-help




311 E12: Evaluating training events

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