A Look at the Trend of Distance and Adult Education in Ghana

Article excerpt

[Abstract] Distance learning in sub-Saharan Africa is very limited and inefficient. Information, communication, and technology seem to be struggling in the third world as result of inadequate infrastructure, financial constraints, and social or cultural barriers, as well as minimal government policies as compared to successful programs in the developed world. Not much has been researched on the contribution of distance learning and adult education in Ghana. There has been successful distance learning programs in Ghana that need much recognition in the outside world. Adult educators and researchers in the field of open and distance learning must know the contributions of adult and distance learning in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in the case in Ghana.

[Keywords] Distance education for adults; adult education; Ghana; sub-Saharan Africa; distance learning programs; education trends.

Introduction

In sub-Saharan Africa, adult education is utilized to educate and empower the general population on the most pressing issues in society. Examples include: the use of technology, social awareness, and staff development. With the emergence of technology and e-learning, adult education has taken a different paradigm in Africa. Adult learners are now provided with the most recent technological tools for learning, such as computers, podcasts, radios, laptops, and other accessories. Most public and private universities have started distance education programs for adult workers to create an opportunity for them to advance their skills. So far, there is little research on the impact of distance learning and adult education in any of the sub-Saharan African countries. In most conferences and peer-reviewed journals, the trends and contribution of distance education are not highly considered.

However, at the major universities in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Ghana, there have been many successful distance education programs using recent technology to help reduce problems in education, such as teacher education, women empowerment, democracy, financial, health education, and human resource development, in continuing education centers at the major universities in Ghana.

It is important for adult educators to recognize how technology has influenced distance and adult education in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Ghana. Therefore, this article will address the trend of distance and adult education in Ghana and highlight the role distance education has played to promote adult education in both formal and informal sectors in Ghana. It will look at the future trends of adult and distance education in Ghana.

Background

In Ghana, adult education is primarily focused on providing education and human resources training to individuals at all levels so they can solve the most pressing issues adults face in their quest to make a better living. Adult education in Ghana also provides functional literacy programs for individuals above 15 years of age outside the formal school system, thereby offering a second chance for learning. These opportunities include apprenticeships, vocational training, and technical informal activities that are recognized by the government and training provided by other state institutions. The Institution of Adult Education in Ghana defines adult education as "all activities meant to bring improvement in the living of the individual and the communities in which they live. It embraces leisure, occupations, social roles as well as peripheral activities" (Institute of Adult Education Report, 2006).

Adult education in the developing world creates a participatory environment for people to be involved in socio-economic activities and to develop the ability to take leadership initiatives, ultimately leading people at the local level to better understand the social, political, and economic forces that impact their lives. The three main public universities in Ghana have established a distance learning centers, including the Institute of Adult Education to train and offer degree programs to the increasingly rapidly growing population. …