In modern industrialised society, it is difficult to determine, when a person suddenly and unambiguously becomes an adult. In Britain, compulsory full time education finishes at the age of 16 and the process of becoming an adult thought to be begins between the ages of 16 to 21 with the attainment of full adult rights, roles and responsibilities. In this period of age there are many markers such as right to vote, drinking alcohol and permission to marry without parents consent and undoubtedly the social and psychological maturation could vary from one individual to another.
Learning policy tends to treat adults as people aged 19 or over. One thing is clear that the definitions of adult in educational terms tends to come later than earlier, this is because primarily there is already distinction provision for 16 to 19 years old and also for some 18 to 21 year old in higher education. Therefore, adult education is often thought to begin where these end and is sometimes referred to 'post initial' for this reason.
Several educational institutions still apply the age 25 to differentiate between 'ordinary' and 'mature' students; at the same time some are more concerned with the number of ineffective years outside the educational system. (Squire, G. 1987) According to Roger (1986) the term adult means a person's status or acceptance by a society in which he/she lives: A wide range of concept is involved when we use the term 'adult'. The word can refer to a stage in the life cycle of the individual; he or she is first a child, then a youth, then an adult. It can refer to status, an acceptance by society that the person concerned has completed his or her novitiate and is now incorporated fully into the community. It can refer to a social sub-set: adult as distinct from children.
Or it can include a set of ideals and values: adulthood. (Tight, M. 1996) An accepted definition of 'adult' in adult education is not and cannot be clear. It is very difficult to specify or classify this sector of education. It is hard to call it a sector at all, but it definitely includes formal education or training leading to a qualification. On the other hand, there are wide range of informal learning opportunities are also available, which are significant sources of skill and knowledge development.
The focus of policy is widening to include informal with formal learning and non-vocational with vocational learning. (Squire, G. 1987) The department for education and employment formed in 1995 play an important role in providing education to adults, and to help those people who are seeking jobs (e. g. through initiatives such as Work-based Learning for Adults). There is variety of other official and non-governmental agencies also play a similar type of role in adult education. For example, Local Education Authorities (LEAs) are responsible for local adult education provision and in this regard only in 1998; over one million enrolments on adult education courses have been processed through LEAs.
The Further Education Funding Council (FEFC) is responsible for further education (other than higher education) to young people and adult and over 3. 8 million students were engaged in this provision in 1998. Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs) is set up to make sure that employer and workforces training needs are met. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is responsible to provide funding for teaching and research purposes to colleges for their higher education work In 1997/98, over half a million part-time students in higher education aged over 25 were benefited through this provision.
(Hillage, J. et al 2000) In the past, there was a general perception among Britons that they invented adult education as it existed in Europe today. This perception was not true, but it is correct that adult education spread widely in the United Kingdom earlier than it did in other European countries. According to Professor Kelly educational work with adults in England began in the middle ages, but the roots of contemporary practice lie fixed in the 19th Century (Titmus, C. 1981). The roots of adult education stretch back in religious education.
More emphasis on adult education came into force after the World War II in 1970s, including the Open University, which opened for students in 1971. Since the early 1980s there was a growing concern that the country needs to meet with the new skills. In 1988, White paper, employment in the 1990s, TECs was established for this purpose. (Hillage, J. et al 2000)
Recently, government is spending i?? 11 billion a year from its budget on lifelong learning. The main aim is to maximise achievement, particularly in terms of basic literacy and numeracy in schools to minimise alienating from learning in later life and the attainment of basic skills training for adults. To develop new forms of learning provision using modern technologies to make better efficiency of developing materials, access problems and make learning available in more digestible units, as epitomised by learndirect. According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) learning activities among adults are rising and one in seven adults (aged 25 or over) are enthusiastically occupied in formal learning activity. However, participation is not uniform and varies by age, gender, ethnicity, labour market status, geography, social class and previous educational experience.
(Hillage, J. et al 2000) According to recent national surveys more than 90 per cent adults in England have fairly positive attitudes towards learning and believe that education is very important. Two thirds express a desire to learn while other 50 per cent expect to actually take part in educational activity in the near future, but there are certain barriers to learn such as practical or material barriers, including, financial, lack of time, childcare geographical isolation and lack of information, structural barriers such as lack of opportunities, age or qualification barrier and constraint of benefit system.
Attitudinal barrier, for example, negative attitudes to learning because of poor school experiences, lack of confidence, perception that one is too old to learn and lack of motivation are the biggest barrier towards learning. (Hillage, J. et al 2000) One factor among the emergence of adult education is the failure of compulsory educational system. It's not easy to find out accurate reasons why students or educational systems are failing. A great deal of research have been conducted into both student characteristics such as ability, motivation, learning styles, social background etc. and system characteristics such as teacher training, teaching methods, curricula, institutions, assessment and guidance.
Other measures of 'failure' are under-achievement, wastage and negative attitudes towards learning. (Squire, G. 1987) The formal educational system in the developing countries is typically only available to or is used by a minority of the adult population. In this type of circumstances non-formal education encompasses all training activities and organised educational activities which are not within a formal educational system. Non-formal type of system may offer more accessibility of means for delivering needed learning, which also is cheaper. (Tight, M. 1996)
In the context of new development strategies, non-formal education is being viewed as more relevant to the need of the population, especially for those in the rural areas working in the traditional sector, since it attempts to focus on teaching people to improve their basic level of subsistence and their standards of nutrition and general health. . . Further, since the non-formal education process usually requires the participation of its recipients in determining the nature and content of the educational programmes, these will always tend to focus on the needs and priorities of the communities. (Tight, M. 1996)