Adult Education as it Relates to Democracy Term Paper

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Adult Education as it Relates to Democracy

It has been often said that education should be a lifelong process. The Chinese culture provides the history of the civilization with numerous words of wisdom which point out the significance of investing in people rather than in material things. In this sense, one of the most eloquent ones is related to education. Thus, "when planning for a year, plant corn; when planning for a decade, plant trees; when planning for life, train and educate people" (the European Commission, 2001). Education represents an essential instrument a government, a country, and even an individual can posses and must constantly improve on. Therefore, it can be stated that knowledge, information, and skills represent the future of a nation, regardless of its political, economic or social background. Adult education as a means of achieving democracy can be said to be one of the most important tools a state government can make use of in order to establish and develop a system based on the rule of law and democratic principles.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Adult Education as it Relates to Democracy Assignment

One of the most important aspects of the way in which adult education can affect democracy is related to the precise definition of the notion. In this sense, applied to the example of Latin America, one of the regions most affected by a vacuum of democratic practices "adult education and popular education have accepted the challenge to contribute to the development, strengthening and building of democracy in Latin America. While this would seem to be very ambitious and far reaching assignment, it can be carried out through different educational programs that are now being developed by social organizations. They contribute toward democracy through their orientations, practices, methodology and social and political choices. In this presentation, I will try to illustrate how work in education for health contributes to the development of democracy today" (Marshall, 1991). Therefore, this description provides precisely the guidelines needed for considering the effects adult education has on establishing a democratic environment.

It is often believed that education comes in the forms of high school and college studies in particular. Students are in this sense viewed as the actual future of a country precisely because they come in contact with the latest evolutions of the societies from around the world, with ideas and beliefs that in the end can make a difference in their own societies. From this point-of-view, young people are most of the times the target for politicians and market campaigns. However, the idea of lifetime learning or education comes to undermine this belief and misconceptions. Therefore, the human beings as well as most individuals have the capacity to learn and improve themselves throughout their life and with every new experience perception of the world around can at least change if not improve. This predisposition for self-improvement is often exploited by political regimes and public opinion formers. At the same time though it can be used to redirect a nation on a different social path and create a new national belief. This aspect is often used as a prerequisite for adult learning and democracy.

The need for adult education is important to underline precisely due to the fact that unlike the education of the young people, adult education poses certain obstacles. One of the most important is related to the preconceptions of people who have been educated and were formed in a different system from the current one they live in. In this sense, it is more difficult to reform an idea rather than create a new one. More precisely, creating new ideas for regular students represents a task the traditional system of education is designed to address and does so with more or less success. However, to replace certain aspects of an education which has its solid base in a different system of government or social organization is more difficult. It implies a series of reconsiderations of old rules and norms which in the end must be transformed rather than developed. This is why some of the most important initiatives of the governments in the Western world are related to adult education. More precisely, Sweden is a relevant case for pointing out the importance of education and especially of adult education even in countries where the issue of democracy is no longer a state problem. Therefore, "Around 75% of the Swedes from 18 to 75 years of age have at some time taken part in a study circle; around 40% have taken part in at least one study circle over the last three years. Thirteen percent have taken a folk high school course and eight percent have taken a long folk high school course" (Facts on Liberal Education, 2003). Therefore, it can be said that school represents a crucial environment for the improvement of knowledge, regardless of the age or national background.

Adult education as a general idea is by definition a state initiative. It is often used to stimulate a certain environment, and most of the times to give an impulse to the way in which the society is evolving. However, the most important aspect related to the governmental support such initiatives receive. This can be justified by the fact that "the role of liberal adult education today is also a matter of defending, vitalizing, and developing democracy. The instability of democracy is obvious, when seen in an international perspective" (Facts on Liberal Education, 2003). Therefore, adult education is a matter of building values and moral precepts, some of the most important elements for establishing a viable democratic system.

Some of the gravest problems related to democracy are seen in Latin America and in the African countries. In order to properly understand the way in which adult education is more than a tool for promoting democracy, but also one which enables the human being to properly develop as an individual, it may be useful to consider some of the examples the two regions offer.

Latin America is rather well-known for its turbulent past, its post colonial heritage, as well as for the limited experience concerning the democratic process. Relevant in this sense is the fact that despite the globalization process which tends to manifest at all the levels of the society, including the political aspect, in Latin America most of the people of the region have little consideration or even knowledge for the actual meaning of the notion democracy (Leis, n.d.). The historical background as well as the continuous struggles to reach a certain sense of equilibrium at the political level has left most of the countries on the continent to underestimate the power and need of their peoples to actually have a feel of the entire process of democracy, to understand it, before implementing and including it in the collective minds of the society.

In this sense, the example of Brazil is relevant. Despite the fact that it is one of the most important countries in the world in terms of population and size, as well as from the point-of-view of the natural resources it possesses, the population is by no means considered to represent a democratic system. The constant struggles for power and the lack of political opposition determines the international scene to view the Brazilian experience as being engaged in an exercise they are not prepared to understand. Therefore, many argue that Brazil does own a democratic system of government, yet its population is not engaged in the democratic process.

An important aspect for Latin America is at the moment the actual identification of the problems facing the societies at large. In this sense, "despite its great advances in formal democracy, Latin America is a region where large sections of the population do not know what is meant by democracy, what its features are, its potential and its limitations. There is still little support for the values needed for democracy to flourish, and against this background, little or no attention is given in the public debate to discussion of democratic values (tolerance, multiculturalism, respect for minorities, the individual and the person, the rule of law, civil, political, socio-economic and cultural rights, guarantees of these and ways of spreading them)" (Leis, n.d.). More precisely, there needs to be a reconsideration of the priorities of the nation before the actual evolution of the issue of adult learning which would eventually lead to a democratic system.

One of the priorities of most Latin American countries is related to the reconsideration of the political spectrum as well as the reorientation of the economic one (Machinea, 2004). Taking into account the fact that, as stated before, there is little experience in terms of developing democratic values or at least recreating a system that would embody all these values, the political arena in the region is still dominated by protectionist markets, authoritarian rule, or even dictatorship. In this sense, the examples of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, or former president Castro in Cuba point out the fact that although serious discussions on the issue of democracy have been undertaken, the leaders mentioned are… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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