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The merits of adult education

Those who in their childhood and early youth missed out on completing their education successfully often regret this phase in their lives. Many long to be given a second chance to acquire knowledge that will help them become more productive in their community.

Adult education is the most effective way of giving everyone a chance to continue to improve their skills that will, undoubtedly, enhance their economic prospects and boost their self-esteem that is so important for a healthy lifestyle.

Two initiatives that are at present giving a second chance to younger and older adults are the Work Programme Initiative, sponsored by Jobsplus in collaboration with the private sector, and the Employment Initiative, a project of the President’s Trust.

The projects target different individuals who could benefit from adult education with the first aimed at people aged 25 and over who have been out of employment for at least a year. The President’s Trust initiative aims to reach disadvantaged young people who are continuously falling out of the social safety nets when it comes to training and employment.

Both merit the support of the public and one hopes that, rather than competing, they work together for the good of society and disadvantaged people.

The merits of adult education are numerous. For those who completed their training successfully in their youth, going back to university to follow a course in an area of study they never had a chance to pursue could be an opportunity to give meaning to their years in retirement. For many others who failed to complete their statutory education successfully, economic, social and personal ambitions could be a strong motivator to go back to the classroom.

Many women often have to sacrifice their careers to raise a family or to care for elderly relatives. There comes a time when they long to return to work to improve their outdated skills to make them once again employable. Courses that focus on empowerment, ethics at work, employment law, sales and marketing, office skills and languages and IT give a wide range of choice to those who long to give their careers a fresh start.

Younger adults who may have faced tough social and economic challenges in their childhood would need more basic skills that improve their chances of employment. They would also require mentoring from a trusted person to support them in adjusting to the real world of work.

People who opt for adult education have an opportunity to learn and develop their skills and capacities continually. They also ensure that their children develop a love of learning and take full advantage of education. In this way, they will boost their self-esteem as they recognise that they are participating actively in their community and civil society.

But investing in adult education comes with some tough challenges. While educational studies often find that adults returning to education are often more motivated to complete their training successfully than younger students, many adults find this experience quite daunting. Those who decide to return to school later in life have to balance education with family responsibilities.

Adult education implies that traditional training material and methodologies need to be adapted for non-traditional learners. Appropriate training of trainers in adult education will help mature students overcome feelings of inadequacy.

This is a Times of Malta print editorial

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