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The history of adult education is a hit-and miss story – starting off with strong rhetoric, promises and expectation and concluding in limited success, and even neglect and disappointment in too many cases. Adult education has been conflated into broader agenda of education and development more at level of discourse than in action. In the arena of action it has been too often confined to a narrow interpretation of literacy skills (Umar, Eshak, Bichi, &Aujara, 2010).

However for most governments in developing countries where financial and human resources are very scarce, adult education is very low when it comes to given priority to other sub-sectors of education system.

The end of World War II saw the recognition of adult and non-formal education by many nations as a vital and indispensable tool for individual and national advancement. The ex-service men of Africa, like their Nigerian counterparts, who came in contact with white soldiers, fully realized the importance of education in their lives and for improving their society.

Hence there was increased demand for more and specific forms of education for meeting the needs of their day-to-day life challenges (Nzeneri, 2005). In fact many people have been inhibited by some socio economic, political, cultural and natural factors from benefitting from the right to education (the Universal Declaration of Human rights to Education). These factors have resulted in a greater number of a nation’s population not really benefiting from the formal education system.

Many people who entered various levels of the formal education failed to realize their educational ambitions.  It is obvious that the adults in the society are the most affected by these factors for many of them may have dropped out of formal school system either as stark or semi  illiterates.

Adult education changes the social and psychological minds of adults more than any other profession, instills lost hope in them and liberates them from their prejudice of seeing themselves as not being capable of learning. Adult education awakens adult learners to become aware of their environmental (social, economic, cultural and political) and psychological potentials and hidden abilities. It also exerts enormous influence on the larger society in terms of national development (Onyenemezu, 2012).


The Definitions of Adult Education

The concept of adult education is difficult to define because people define it from different perspectives. However, scholars agreed that it is an education that has adults as its clientele. This also brings us to another concept of who is an adult? Different parameters are used in defining an adulthood amongst which are Biological, Chronological, historical, psychological, economical, political and social amongst others.

Nzeneri (2002:11) defines an adult as one who is physically and psychologically matured and is socially, economically and politicallyresponsible. According to Adesanya (2005) the term adult is difficult to define because it varies from one society to another and has changed over time.


UNESCO (1976) cited in Nzeneri (2010:10) defines adult education as:  The entire body of organized educational process, whatever the content, level and method, formal or otherwise, whether they prolong or replace initial education in schools, colleges, universities as well as in apprenticeship, where by persons regarded as adults by the society to which they belong develop their abilities, enrich their knowledge, improve their technical or professional qualifications and bring about changes in their attitude or behaviour in the two fold perspectives of full personal development and participation in balanced and independent social, economic and cultural development.


The above definitions is encompassing in the sense that it has not only define adult education, but has gone to the extent of talking about its scope and content.


The Objectives of Adult Education

According to the National Policy on Education (2004) the objectives of adult education are as follows:

  1. To provide functional literacy and continuing education for adults and youths who have never had the advantage of formal education or who did not complete their primary education.
  2. To provide functional and remedial education for those young people who did not complete secondary education.
  3. To provide in-service, on the job, vocational and professional training for different categories of workers and professionals in order to improve their skills.
  4. Give the adult citizens of the country necessary aesthetic, cultural and civic education for public enlightenment.
  5. Provide education for different categories of completers of formal school system in order to improve their basic knowledge and skills on income generation activities like carpentry, tailoring, knitting, pomade and soap making and local craft.




The following are relevant measures to be adopted to ensure improved adult education delivery in Akwa Ibom State:

  • Employment of more/qualified lectures in adult education department in Akwa Ibom State Colleges of Education, Afaha Nsit: Government to encourage College of Education to employ more and qualified lectures in the department of Adult education in order to train facilitators in adult education field.
  • Upward review of Facilitators’ remuneration (allowance): payment of facilitators should be in accordance with the minimum benchmark as set by the Non-Formal Education blue print that facilitators should be paid minimum wage as their remuneration or allowances.


  • Establishment more centres of adult education in the country should be embarked upon so that every body will have easy access to education and thus become more functional on the job performance and makes them affordable to all interesting adult learners or in some programmes like the Basic and Post literacy programmes be free at all the states of the Federation and the programmes should be based on the learners’ needs and aspirations.
  • HIV/AIDs: stake holders in literacy programmes are aware of the causes and prevention of HIV/AIDs. Therefore there is the need to design and implement HIV/AIDs educational programme for out-of-school boys, girls and adults and create support for the training of Non-formal education facilitators for effective delivery of the programme.


  • Mainstreaming: after basic literacy the issue of post literacy and emerging opportunities for learners to mainstream to formal schools is yet to be fully accepted and implemented by all concerned. Some of school administrators have shown outright reluctance in admitting out-of-school boys desiring to mainstream.


  • Inter-sectoral linkages: Coordination, cooperation and collaboration between the agencies involved in Basic Education is lacking. There is the need to streamline activities and programmes of these agencies to avoid duplication of efforts.


  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT): given the importance and relevance of Information and Communication Technology in our society, therefore, the need to mobilize resources and manpower for inclusion of ICT in Non-Formal Education programmes. However, 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) radio stations should partner to State Agencies for Mass Education in Literacy by Radio programmes. This assist in mobilizing communities to accept Adult and Non-formal Education as a new and alternative form learning with which the nation and the people can address existing educational problems, but also, to promote literacy for the population.


  • Recruitment of adequate and qualified facilitators: persons with Nigeria Certificate in Education and specialization in adult education should be employed as facilitators in the Non-Formal Education centres.
  • There should be intensified and sustained advocacy, sensitization and mobilization of all stake holders to come and support Adult and Non-Formal Education in the country.
  • Effective programming and implementation would require appropriately qualified personnel with definite schedules of duty.


  • Employment of adequate number of staff at all levels to meet the ever increasing demand of Adult and Non-Formal Education in Akwa Ibom State.
  • Regular and effective monitoring of programmes at all levels. It is essential to train and re-train manpower to manage Monitoring and Evaluation activities in the Non-formal Education. There should be capacity building for monitoring and evaluation of officers through short, medium and long term training programmes, workshops, conferences amongst others.


  • Adequate funding: Governments at all levels should allocate adequate funds to adult and non-formal education sector in order to carry along its programmes effectively and efficiently
  • As a matter of urgency the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in coloration with National Assembly should revisit the UBE act in order to incorporate adult and non-formal education as part of it.


  • There should be intensified and sustained advocacy, sensitization and mobilization of all stake holders to come and support Adult and Non-Formal Education in Akwa Ibom State.
  • Regular and effective monitoring of adult education programmes at all levels in Akwa Ibom State .



Adesanya, L.A. (2006). The concept and scope of adult education in adult and non-formal education: emerging issues. NNCAE annual conference pg47-57)


Umar, F.M., Eshak, A.M., Bichi, A.A., & Aujara, I.W. (2010). Trends in adult and  non-formal education in Maiwada, D.A. &Yakasai, M.I. (ed) trends in education research. Zaria. ABU Press


Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004).National policy on education.abuja. federal ministry of education


NMEC/UNICEF (2010).Non-formal education in Nigeria: policy issues and practice.  Abuja. NMEC

Nzeneri, I.S. (2006). The concept and scope of adult and non-formal education in adult and non-formal in Nigeria: emerging issues papers from the NNCAE annual conference pg34-43

Nzeneri, I.S. (2002). Handbook on adult education, principles and practice. Onitsha Goodway printing press


Onyenemezu, E.C. (2012). Adult education and the challenges of 21st century in  Nigeria. Education and practice (3),1-7

Joselyn Nya

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