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1.1 Background to the Study

According to Beder (1991), adult education refers to any form of learning undertaken by or provided for mature men and women outside the formal schooling system. The notion of adult education is often used interchangeably with other concepts such as literacy, adult basic education, and lifelong learning, and continuing education, adult and non-formal education etc. Basically, adult education is understood as a transmission process of general, technical or vocational knowledge, as well as skills, values and attitudes, which takes place out of the formal education system with a view to remedying early education inadequacies of mature people or equipping them with the knowledge and cultural elements required for their self-fulfillment and active participation in the social, economic and political life of their societies.

Similarly Ghash and Zachriah, (1987) stressed that education is mainly concerned with liberation of man from ignorance and poverty it plays an important role in the transformation and development of society. Besides, education is universally recognized as one of the most fundamental building blocks for human development and poverty reduction and a key to attaining the growth and development goals; however majority of the population cannot be expected to participate in learning and training through the existing formal education system. Due to this problem, the opportunities were designed in non-formal style for those who didn’t get chance to follow the formal education program (MoE, 2008)

Similar to other terms, literacy has been conceived differently by different individuals and institutions globally. The concept of literacy has moved from acquiring autonomous skills to an emphasis on literacy as functional in daily lives, and more recently, embracing the notions of multiple illiteracies- literacy as a continuum, and literate environments and societies- so as to cope effectively with the dynamic changes in technology and lifestyle there of (UNESCO, 2006). Different researchers conducted their studies on Adult and non-formal education in a broad sense. For instance, the research result of MoE (1999) on the status of non-formal education in Ethiopia indicated that, stakeholders’ participation on Functional Adult Literacy program implementation are not sufficient unless the Functional Adult Literacy centers are properly managed and organized the need of the local communities.

In addition, Dabal (2011) on his summary of findings indicated that adult learners’ participation was very low in the process of FALP implementation. Even though adult education is widely recognized as powerful weapon for eradicating illiteracy, reducing poverty and attaining Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by providing basic education and training opportunities for adults, out of school youths of age fifteen years and above who have missed their formal education in their childhood, in the study area the enrollment and participation of adults in to the program is limited.

In modern society, basic literacy and numeracy are increasingly becoming more essential than ever due to changing world of technology and its emerging challenges. However globally, 774 million adults are illiterate (Lind and Johnson, 1990). They lack the elementary knowledge vital for improving their health and livelihood, helping their children with school, playing an active role in their communities and making more political and economic choices – in short, for securing a better future for themselves and their families (Benavot, 2008).

In recent years, attention has increasingly been focused on the instrumental objective of literacy in the context of its perceived relationship to livelihood. The often repeated question “literacy for what?” is as valid today as it was several decades ago. This question has in the past generated a spirited debate on the relationship between literacy and development. For example between 1945and 1983, illiteracy has been seen as a major obstacle to ‘development Hence literacy was viewed from the basic human needs approach where literacy is an instrument for development. This assumption has been constant, but to what degree and how literacy and development relate has been debated and looked upon differently over time (Lind and Johnson, 1990). From 1983, there has been an apparent paradigm change in our perception of literacy from the basic human needs approach to the human rights approach (Ekundayo, 2002). 

The views expressed above seem to suggest that sustainable human development can only be achieved through respect for human rights meaning that human needs and human rights are two inseparable words from the education perspective.  Consequently, the purpose and nature of literacy and the methods of its acquisition are now important issues on the Education for All agenda (Ekundayo, 2002). Literacy is therefore a fundamental human right and this justifies the need to eradicate illiteracy.

Literacy is the fertilizer needed for development and democracy to take root and grow. It is the invisible ingredient in any successful strategy for eradicating poverty (UNESCO, 2006). However the literacy survey report by NNBS (2007) reveals that one of  the challenges affecting adult literacy programmes is that the curriculum and learning resources used in adult literacy centres are not relevant to learners’ needs hence they do not find value in attending the adult literacy programmes. Over the years however, there has been concern that the programme that once thrived was doing very badly. Oluoch, (2005) in agreeing with this view contends that the once vibrant programme has become low-keyed and ineffective and characterised by poor participation, making it impossible to achieve the goals of adult literacy. There has been a downward enrolment in adult literacy programmes in Nigeria since 1979 when the mass literacy campaign was launched. The reasons for the decline include low teacher motivation due to poor remuneration resulting in irregularity in attendance and lack of income-generating activities (Ekundayo, 2002). Other reasons cited for low enrolment and high drop-out rates included lack of access to education among persons with special needs, long distances to the centres poor quality of the courses offered in ACE centres (NNBS, 2007).

Bassa Local Government Area has both urban and rural. The urban population is mainly cosmopolitan. It enabled the researcher to have a clear insight into the various categories of learners. Bassa Local Government Area is within Plateau State. It borders between Bauchi and Plateau State. Temperatures range between 140 and 340C. The dominant economic activity is agriculture. Apart from the low enrolment of learners in Bassa, it is noteworthy that daily average attendance is usually irregular while the content is mainly the teaching of basic literacy and numeracy skills with little linkage to learners’ daily activities.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

From the background information it is clear that literacy contributes significantly to the development of any country. It is also evident that countries with high poverty levels are characterized by high illiteracy rates. The same case applies to

Although adult literacy programmes have been implemented in most countries of the developing world, they have often been characterised by high drop-out rates and low attainment and retention of literacy skills (Robinson-Pant, 2003). The highest illiteracy rates are found in the Least Developed Countries, mainly in Africa and 60 percent of all illiterate adults are women (Lind et al 1990). Most of these people are people living in extreme poverty and nearly one in five is a young person aged between 25 and 44 (UNESCO, 2006). In Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique and Nepal, for example, where 78 percent or more of the population lives below US $ 2 per day, adult literacy rates are 63 percent and the number of adult illiterates exceeds 5 million in each country (Benavot, 2008). This implies that there is a direct relationship between illiteracy and poverty. At the household level, evidence from thirty developing countries indicates that literacy correlates with household wealth. Illiteracy is one of the biggest challenges in Africa. First of all because it is one of the largest regions of the world burdened with the highest illiteracy rate in which over 40 percent of population over 45 years of age is illiterate (Sow, 2013).

According to Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics (NNBS) (2007) 7.8 million Nigerian adults aged 15 years and above are illiterate. The report also indicates that only 31 percent of the adult population is aware of the existence of literacy programmes.  In Nigeria, adult literacy did not receive much attention until 1978 when the national literacy programme was launched to meet the needs of 5 million adult illiterates (Bhola and Gomez, 2008). The Nigeria Government is committed to implementing the international, regional and national commitments to education. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Education for All (EFA) goals). Literacy is a pillar for national development. It equips citizens with knowledge and competencies to be able to seek gainful employment or engage in income generating activities. Further it empowers citizens to participate in social and political decision-making processes, enjoy their fundamental rights and enable them to lead a dignified life (NNBS, 2007).

The researcher herself has discovered that there is low participation of adult learners in adult learning centres. It is not strange these days to visit adult learning centres in Bassa and see that there are empty classrooms. Only few individuals attend classes. This is what has motivated the researcher to examine the factors affecting participation and achievements of adult learners in adult literacy centres in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to examine factors affecting participation and achievement of adult learners in adult literacy centres in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State. Other specific objectives of the study include:

  1. To determine the economic factors affecting participation and achievement of adult learners.
  2. To examine the socio-cultural factors affecting participation and achievement of adult learners in adult learning centres.
  • To establish the institutional factors affecting participation of adult learners in adult learning centres.
  1. To proffer possible solutions where necessary.

1.4 Research Questions

This study attempted to answer the following research questions:

  1. What are the economic factors affecting participation and achievement of adult learners?
  2. What are the socio-cultural factors affecting participation and achievement of adult learners in adult learning centres?
  • What is the institutional factors affecting participation of adult learners in adult learning centres?
  1. What are the possible solutions to the identified factors?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study may provide useful information to policy makers as it will hopefully shed more light on the reasons behind low participation in adult literacy in the area of study. 

Education managers may be better placed to implement literacy programmes that are relevant to learners’ needs and to guide instructors appropriately. The literacy instructors maybe equipped with appropriate skills for managing literacy programmes at centre level leading to increased participation and eventually contribute to a rise in the country’s literacy rate.

Adult learners will be equipped with relevant skills to enable them improve on their incomes and quality of life hence contributing to poverty reduction in the area of study and the country in general.

Finally, when this study is completed, it will serve as reference materials for future researchers who would want to carry out further studies on the topic under investigation. It will add to the already existing body of literature on factors affecting participation and achievement of adult learners in adult literacy centres.

1.7 Scope and Delimitations of the Study

This study covers factors affecting participation and achievement of adult learners in adult literacy centres. The study will be limited to 5 adult learning centres in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State. The study will revolve around factors like economical, socio-cultural and institutional factors which pose as hindrance for enrolment of adult learners. However, despite the fact that the study is restricted to the study area, its finding will be generalized to other parts of the state and country at large.

1.8 Definition of Operational Terms            

Adult learners refer to mature individuals who participate in a learning situation that will bring about changes.

Adult Literacy refers to the ability of adults to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute using printed and written materials associated with varying texts.

Factors: These are challenges that pose as threats to the effective participation and achievement of adult learners in adult learning centres.

Participation refers to active involvement in social action to become literate, through       empowering participatory approaches and methodologies.

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