According to Shirley Walters, an English Educationist, “Our planet won’t survive if it is not a learning planet, and sustainable development will be achieved by learning through life.”
This is what lifelong learning, the mainstay of Sustainable Development Goal 4, looks at. SDG 4 requires countries to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities’ for all”. This firms up the need for lifelong learning.
The concept refers to the activities people perform throughout their life to improve their knowledge, skills and competence in a particular field, given some personal, societal or employment-related motives, as shared by Field, Aspin and Chapman. This form of learning takes place at all stages of the life cycle, thus from the cradle to the grave. For instance, at 0-5 years, lot of learning takes place in this group, which provides a foundation for future learning habits and talents. However, 25-60 years and above the group learns through informal use of structural media, mostly from their occupations, workplaces, colleagues, touring, mass media etc.
Perspective wise, let’s look at what lifelong learning encapsulates, by defining the three types of learning. Formal learning occurs within an organized and structured context (formal education). It may lead to formal recognition (certification). Non-formal learning is embedded in planned activities that are not explicitly designated as learning, but which contain an important learning element such as vocational skills acquired at the workplace, while informal learning result from daily life activities related to family, work or leisure. It is often referred to as experiential learning and can, to a degree, be understood as accidental learning. Hence lifelong learning comprises of all the phases of learning from pre-school to post-retirement and covers the whole spectrum of formal, non-formal and informal learning. It occurs at all times in all places.
The Makeup of Non-Formal Education
Non-formal education (NFE) encompasses Basic Adult Literacy, Complementary Basic Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills Development. All these falls under lifelong learning, which takes place at all times and in all places. This confirms the fact that the work the Division has been doing over the years is the propagation of lifelong learning.
Role of the Non-Formal Education Division
The Non-Formal Education Division has propagated and practised lifelong learning for as long as it has been in existence.
Globalization and the growth of the fast-changing knowledge economy and technologically changing world required people to upgrade their skills throughout their adult lives to cope with modern life, both in their work and in their private lives. For instance, many educated citizens were born before Information, Communication and Technology took over the 21st century. Therefore, failure to gain computer literacy will result in alienation from the benefits of the opportunities that come with it. For example, convenient banking – Automated Teller Machine, Mobile banking; mobile phones – text messaging, internet browsing and social media etc.
Therefore, the need to align with the Ghana Library Authority’s “Year of Reading”. Strong advocacy on continuous learning will bring about the quest of the Division to reduce the illiteracy rate in Ghana, which is 23.4 per cent according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS).
The Division will raise awareness of the general public through media encounters, which will explain and educate the citizenry about lifelong learning giving true meaning to the cliché “Learning is from the cradle to the grave”. The facilitators will be the Adehyeman Group of the Theater for Development Unit (TFD) of the Division. They will extensively apply role play to inform and educate the citizenry about what constitutes lifelong learning.
Learning Centres will be of great resource at the community level to offer an environment for people of all ages to learn from varied mediums and means.
In time past, great kings relied heavily on alliances to win many battles, and today is no different. The Division will collaborate with agencies, such as the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, Non-Government Organisations and entities that are into Adult Literacy at the communities to help promote this form of literacy.
Lifelong learning is learning for life and from life experiences.