GLL – on Walters, S.Adult learning within lifelong learning

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, development, South Africa, Adult Education, Lifelong Learning, Adult Learning, Active Citizenship, Civil Society,

Step 2 – Part 3: Adult Education, Development and Transformation: South African case study

Link to blog

Link to forum


Walters, S. (2006). Adult learning within lifelong learning: a different lens, a different light, Journal of Education, No. 39 Adult Education Special Focus Edition, Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Identify and discuss the competing or contesting development theories within the paper.

he article doesn’t seem to discuss any particular development theory; instead, it deals with different approaches to education within a South African development framework. Issue of development surface during the discussion and are contingent to the author’s advocacy for a broader spectrum of adult learning policies and activities. One example: the white paper on “knowledge economy” in Western Cape, arguing for “an intimate relationship between economic development and learning.”

Are there competing perspectives on education, which you can identify in this paper? What do you think they may be? How do they relate to the development theories you discussed in Part 2?

First, Walters discusses Aitchison’s ideas, though I found it hard to follow her critique without having read his article. From my understanding, according to Walters Aitchison’s views stem from Dependency Theory, critical of neo-liberal policies, in that it sees educators as victim of global capitalistic practices, and Lifelong Learning as working to support them.

Walter uses Aitchison’s article as an introduction to her discussion of current perspectives of adult education and learning in South Africa.

First, her article considers the distinction between Adult Education and Adult Learning.

Adult Education:

This is a highly bureaucratized for of education that has two main functions:

  • Personal development for the middle classes;
  • Basic education for the poor.

In the South, Adult Education suffers from fewer resources, educational institutions and people’s expectations towards their personal ability and opportunity to learn.

I believe it’s premised on classical Modernization Theory

Adult Learning:

This is a holistic process “embedded in the political, social, cultural and economic processes of society.” It promotes the use of adequate, appropriate new language, and emphasizes the value of learning communities.

I believe this is premised on Populist Theories, particularly for its emphasis on people-centered education and the small-scale learning projects. It seems to me that Walters’ preference for this approach wouldn’t necessarily subscribe to the limitedness and fragmented scope of Populist learning venues. In fact, Walters considers the fragmentation of the last 10 years of learning activities in South Africa as a major issue, detrimental to the effectiveness of the relevant programs. However – so I believe – she suggests that Lifelong Learning is the kind of Adult Learning that can open the way to major changes in the difficult current living conditions in South Africa.

Lifelong Learning:

In the article it is presented as a contested concept rooted in two traditions:

Progressive tradition (Dewey) based on Social Capital Theory (my choice of terms):

Premised on the promotion of democracy and citizenship, it suggests a holistic approach to learning, and – from my understanding – it’s supported by Social Capital Theory. It covers activities such as `capacity building`, `staff development`, `health promotion`, `skills training` or `community development`, as identified in Walters’ analysis of learning processes in South Africa. (p.14)

This tradition appears informed by Populist theories, although, as I mentioned earlier, Walters seems to distinguish her position from the fragmentation and NGO’s dominance typical of Pupulism, advocating instead a more cohesive albeit diversified model for the South African national community.

This approach reminds me of Dewey’s ideas on social change, reform, democracy, and personal responsibility that we discussed in previous courses.

The ultimate goal of this tradition appears to be the promotion of widespread Active Citizenship beyond its functional support of the marketplace, as a way to implement people’s participation and growth in civil society, as postulated in the 1998 UNESCO’s Mumbai Declaration.

[Active citizenship] “connects individuals and groups to the structures of social, political and economic activity in both local and global contexts, and emphasises women and men as agents of their own history in all aspects of their lives.” (UIE, 1998)

To me, this is a particularly important point, which I would like to address more in depth in a separate post

Institutional, bureaucratic tradition based on Human Capital Theory (my choice of terms)

Premised on the promotion of human resources development, it suggests an economy-based approach that is informed by Theodore Schultz’ Human Capital Theory, and therefore supported by Modernization Theory. More specifically, it seems to relate to reformist and Social Democratic views within this latter theory.

Discuss how these competing perspectives are manifested in the policies discussed in this paper. Identify and discuss the global and local agendas which may be evident in the policies discussed in this paper.

I want to start with a reference to the old Apartheid system, and how its education perspective affected both the oppressors and the oppressed. Succinctly, I believe that the education system subjected the white majority indoctrination, whereas it served as a tool of repression towards the black majority. Both segments of society internalized the essence of such education approach, together with relevant discriminatory and repressive policies. In the end, in such context there were no winners, only losers.

Walters cites the 1994 ANC’s Policy Framework for Education and Training as laying out the vision for future Lifelong Learning policies according to the progressive tradition described earlier.

Later, with the establishment of the National Qualifications Framework in 1995, there was a shift towards an institutionalized for of Lifelong Learning policies, which apparently – according to Walters – were drafted on imported models from other “British” countries. Whatever the reason, Walters seems to have identified a line of continuity between the Apartheid-era education and the current bureaucratic conceptualization that has diverted from the initial “people-centered” ideals.

Walters present a variegated scenario of interacting perspectives. Civil Society Organizations carry out their Populist missions; governmental agencies are still acting within the context of their institutional/bureaucratic tradition.

There is also the example of local governments embarking on a voyage of discovery by implementing truly innovative ideas such as the Learning Cape Festival, trying to strike a balance between “home” and “global market” needs and priorities. In an attempt to provide a “troubled space of possibilities”, “the LCF has helped to move ideas of lifelong learning beyond ‘romance’, to ‘evidence’ and ‘implementation’.

To me, this latter case represents a real transformation of intents and actions – like in Startrek’s voyages – “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” It is in fact a great example of how local administrations may raise to the occasion and supersede the traditional role of states.  As I pointed out in a previous post: what is more effective and people-centered than a local government that is mindful of peoples’ needs and of the impact that political decisions have right there where laws are made? The flexibility inherent in such form of self-government also includes the recognition and inclusion of minorities and issues of marginality, but also the ability to engage in effective networking among all parties and stakeholders. This may result into a multileveled dialogue aimed at the development of experiences of lifelong learning towards the construction of professional competencies and active citizenship at the local, national, and international level.

True, at times this may sound like an experiment, but – in my opinion – it’s something worthwhile trying, also considering that over the decades there have been many examples of successful local governance.

Write a synthesis (2 paragraphs) of Walters’ main argument in this paper and share with your group.


Adult Education in South Africa still suffers from an overproduction of bureaucracy that reminds of Apartheid-era policies. To escape such conundrum, it’s necessary to move from Education to Learning. As a form of Adult Learning, Lifelong Learning represents a perspective of hope by which South Africans will be able to overcome current conditions of underdevelopment. In its progressive form, it will help shift education policies from an emphasis on centralized bureaucracy towards the benefits of active citizenship.

To establish a holistic approach to learning, it’s important to create opportunities for institutional structures to “connect up” with agencies and organizations that are the expression of civil society. As a model for this new, challenging framework of co-operation, Walters presents the Learning Region as a new “troubled space for possibilities.” Thus Lifelong Learning offers a way to merge “romance”, “vision”, and structural intervention in a diversified education framework that will eventually – and hopefully – transform current conditions. This holistic, systems-based, and increasingly complex scenario can only be understood through  “telescopic” lenses that will allow for broad and comprehensive analysis of this very rich field.

In my view, Walters seems to herald a more post-modern role for the state, one not necessarily premised on making executive policies, but rather on creating the framework and conditions for broad cooperation on a variety of issues among the most diversified universe of agencies, people, stakeholders, and individuals.


Aitchison, J. (2003 a) Struggle and compromise: a history of South African adult education. Journal of Education Number 29. Pietermaritzburg. University of Natal. 125 – 178.

Aitchison, J. (2003 b) Brak! – vision, mirage and reality in the post apartheid globalisation of South African adutl education and training. Journal of Education Number 31. Pietermaritzburg. University of Natal.  47 – 74.

Edwards, R and Usher, R. (2005) A troubled space of possibilities. Lifelong learning and the postmodern. In Sutherland Peter and Jim Crowther 2005 Lifelong Learning concepts and contexts. London, UK. Routledge. 58-67.

UNESCO Institute for Education. (1998) The Mumbai Statement on Lifelong learning, Active Citizenship and the Reform of Higher Education. Hamburg. UIE.

European Commission Memorandum on Lifelong Learning, 2002


GLL – Role of the state / Utopia

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, utopia, “Small is beautiful”, Trent, government

Step 2 – Part2: on Populism and Adult Education, Frank Youngman

Link to forum

Link to blog


Marie wrote:

As I write this, the idea that local solutions are the answer seems a bit utopian to me, but perhaps with tweaking, this is a good starting point for solving the current global economic/environmental/polarity crisis.  I have often observed in Canada’s North that the breakdown of indigenous linguistic/cultural systems goes hand in hand with environmental degradation and that little of comparable value is given in the exchange.  It seems to me that sociocultural diversity is integral to environmental diversity and that both are required for the long term health of their systems.

Hi Marie,

Allow me to interject some thoughts on this last statement.

For me utopia is to believe that a distant, centralized government may know and do best what’s needed to ensure that people, locally, may have a chance to have a life that is worth being called one. I instead do not consider utopian when we envision a world made up of interconnected realities – each in its own right, with its own characteristics and traits – that are capable of micro and macro manage (as a wholistic result) their own affairs. I am obviously not talking about a return to the Middle Ages, when – at least in Europe – city states were acing each other off in a localistic and futile attempt to overcome their enemies. I am talking about a mature international framework that may eventually replace our current allotment of countries that base their existence on at times artificial justification for their independent statehood. My previous post gave as an example the situation in my home region. I am not trying to suggest that that framework is a model of universal applicability, but I just want to present it as a viable alternative to “government as usual.”

In other words, like economist Schumacher used to affirm: “Small is beautiful,” which would also apply to the size of government and of “administrative areas” (for lack of other words). In fact, I would argue, what is more effective and people-centered than a local government that is mindful of peoples’ needs and of the impact that political decisions have right there where laws are made? The flexibility inherent in such form of self-government also includes the recognition and inclusion of minorities and issues of marginality. True, at times this may sound like an experiment, but – in my opinion – it’s something worthwhile trying, also considering that over the decades there have been many examples of successful local governance.



If you look for some inspiration, I find this collection very empowering:

GLL – State and Civil Society

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, development, Third Way, Education, Marxism, Trent, active citizenship, co-participation

Step 2 – Part2: on Populism and Adult Education, Frank Youngman

Link to blog

Link to forum

Wonderful comments! Thank you.

I see how we get into troubles when we try to find a solution of universal applicability. When dealing with the complexity of the issues under discussion, I feel that there should be first a clear framing of local conditions (factors, stakeholders, agencies, state, goals, resources, outside influences, etc.). That would allow for contextual and systemic analysis that may yield different solutions to different areas.

One example. In my home area (The autonomous province of Trent) the provincial government is enacting education and learning policies in contrast to those put forth by the state (national government). In this regard, it is acting more as an entity akin to Civil Society, in that its actions are parallel but distinct to those of the state. However, view from within the provincial borders, the provincial government acts like a state, and deals with a complex and variegated  universe of local NGO’s, which diversifies educational opportunities for the people.

I believe there is merit in Gloria’s comments on whether Civil Society is indeed capable to sustain a viable system outside the state’s control (I am paraphrasing; I hope I am correctly interpreting Gloria’s thoughts). In my home region, the local provincial government is acting as the main reference agency, at the center of a web of other agencies and relevant relationships. I would agree with Gloria that, in that specific geographic, cultural, historic, social and environmental context, things are better served with the local government acting as a clearing house, making relevant laws – through political debate – that provide a shared framework for civil society.

Words that come to mind when thinking of such synergistic approach are — dialogue, inclusion, motivation, social capital, co-participation, and active citizenship. It also reminds me of a “connective model” for work and learning in general.

Link: A Roadmap to Work and Learning

GLL: on co-participation

COURSE: Global / Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, co-participation

Step 1 – Part 2: on global/local learning

Link to forum

Link to blog

I am typing this at the library, in a minute village in the heart of the Alps, a valley that has been a crossroad of  languages and cultures for over 2000 years, which makes the setting suitable for some comments on our course.

Zifaan raised the topic of co-partecipation and co-authoring in our academic work. I can only agree with his take. In fact, in this forum I have shared a shared definition of global learning that had emerged from previous works among a sub-group in our cohort. I posted it not with the intention of enforcing it, but with the hope that it could provide for food for thoughts and for a platform for our discussion.

This course presents us with the very good opportunity of finding common themes in our individual ideas, thus making a co-partecipatory approach more visible and praxis-oriented.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts guys! (-:

GLL: A shared definition

COURSE: Global / Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning

Step 1 – Part 2: on global/local learning

Link to forum

Link to blog

A shared definition.

Before commenting on the ideas presented in the Commentary, I would like to post a shared definition of “local/global learning” that emerged from a previous course.

The following definition encompasses the interplay of the global and local dimensions of learning. Here it goes:

A definition of global learning

Global Learning is that aspect of learning that includes an understanding of human interactions and knowledge across cultural boundaries in light of the cultural differences affecting the participants’ diversity of communication styles, values and beliefs. Global Learning occurs within a collaborative and transformational context of world-wide networks. Global Learning may eventually promote a paradigm shift that would ultimately redefine people’s identities on a personal and potentially global scale.

The contexts in which Global Learning takes place include:

The global level, when people engage in meaningful, constructive and collaborative enterprises with others across borders. This level advances a meta-perspective on global learning and goes hand-in-hand with other globalization processes.

The local level, when people engage within their own communities, contexts and cultures which leads to personal transformation. This level allows for opportunities for engagement across previously impenetrable borders.

The personal level, when learners develop their personal knowledge in light of the intercultural dimension of their inquiry. This level advances personal growth and transformation and serves as a platform for participation in global enterprises.



FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

School and work (BLOCK 3)

TOPICS: EXCLUSION, DISCRIMINATION, SYNERGY, connective model, appropriation, co-participatioN, legitimate peripheral participation life-long learning, agency, individual learning pathways



Hi folks,

As we are sailing into the last phase of the group assignment, here are some thoughts on policies and strategies as I identified them in the readings.

I think that we could identify several levels at which we could effectively tackle issues of exclusion and discrimination.

In the reading, I found a lot of emphasis on the establishment of a broader system of education/formation/workplace training based on a systemic approach.

Guile and Griffiths mentions the need for a synergetic approach that would involve ” re-thinking how students can be supported to relate their ‘vertical development’ and ‘horizontal development’-by addressing the institutional separation of these modes of learning and by taking more account of the influence of context upon learning.” (p. 116)

To me this constitutes the basis for an integrated system that will combine the many agents, stakeholders, institutional centers that will then contribute to the development of a  new platform for work and learning.

As cited in Guile’s article (P.117), such transformation will change Fordist and Tayloristic models of work relationships “and therefore provide workers with broader based forms of responsibility and opportunities to learn and develop (Brown & Lauder, 995).”

Guile and Griffiths suggest a “connective model” (nicely summarized in Savoie-Zaic’s article) in which “trainers and the workplace develop partnerships to create environments that foster learning within the workplace” (Savoie-Zaic, p. 117)

From there, I believe that we can expand into a network of partnerships that will contribute to re-shape and realign power relationships between and inside work and learning contexts and their participants. Schuetze defines such new scenario as “alternation system.” (Schuetze, p. 5-6) Accordingly, a new integrated framework will emerge, based on employers’ needs; learners’ personal identities, histories, and learning styles; through a variety of pathways to education, workplace learning, and work. This system will be based on sound principle of active citizenship.

And this is, I believe, the core concept that will emerge as the most important factor in anti-discrimination policies.

The language used to define the evolving marketplace and education universe at the start of the third millennium appears to be based on a broad sense of inclusion and co-participation. It includes terms like appropriation, co-participation (Billett, co-participation at work), legitimate peripheral participation (Huzzard, Communities of domination), life-long learning, agency, individual learning pathways and more.

I believe that the building of such complex taxonomy shows an attempt to overcome entrenched patterns of exclusion and establish new policies that are more attuned to our ever changing, globalized world.

From my own research about the E.U., it emerged a consistent move towards the reframing of European policies along lines similar to those described above. How are these approaches currently used in different countries? Are they useful to address and overcome issues of discrimination and exclusion?



FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

TOPICS: Reflections, learning, collaborative, co-participation, affordances, ALGC


Link to itslearningHere are some comments. I have posted three elaborate posts in this discussion group, and so far I have not received one single comment. I could go on and post more, but at this point I have serious doubts that doing so will be productive.

I have already expressed my thoughts on this group assignment (see relevant post link to itslearning’forum). My impression is that, for the most part, we are just talking past one another, without a clear understanding of where this is going and how to structure this unique opportunity for meaningful group work. In my last group assignment, after three days of silence, we all got on the task. I don’t see anything like that happening here. Sorry if I am the bearer of not-so-charming news.

%d bloggers like this: