Barriers to Participation in Adult Education

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As an adult literacy educator, I know that there are adults in the population that need to improve ther literacy and numeracy skills. I know this not only anecdotally, but statistically. According to the 2003 ALL survey, one in seven Canadian adults is functioning at a Level One. In the Province of Quebec, one in approximately five adults is functioning at Level One .( Institut de la statistique du Québec/ Direction de la Santé du Québec) This holds true in the Anglophone and francophone sectors equally. We are a text based society and the inability to decode or read simple instructions limits the societal participation of a low literacy adult. Participation, or rather non-participation is the key in adult education. Educators have often wondered what reasons there are for adults not participating. Based on a study conducted by ABC CANADA The barriers to participation in literacy can be divided into the following: socio-economic-circumstantial, (30% ) Cognitve-Emotive(15%) Program/Policy Related(43%) Other(11%) (ABC Canada: Patterns of Participation IN Canadian Literacy and Upgrading). Almost 75% of non-participants state that socio economic or program related issues posed barriers to enrolling in literacy programs. It stands to reason that if programs can address the issues within those two barriers to learning, then it would be a step in the right direction. In order to further address the problem of non-participation, ABC Canada gave examples of reasons within each of the above barriers. In the socio-economic category the top reasons for non-particiaption were: job-related conflicts, health, money, care of children or elderly parents and transportation. In the program/policy related category the very top reason for non-participation(over 45% of respondents) was that no-one bothered to call them back! Other reasons included the cost of a class, time , schedule and/or location inconvenient, level too high or low and relevance of content....
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