GLL – on Transformation

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Freire

TOPICS: local global learning, development, Transformation, Adult Education

Step 3 – Part 1: Critical Consciousness

Keywords: Critical Consciousness, Freire, Laszlo, Macroshift,  Merirow, Youngman, enactivist orientation, transformational orientation,

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Why is critical consciousness a necessary dimension of transformative adult education

Hi there!

Although our thoughts across the many forums may at times sound  redundant (mine included). I would like to add some “old” ideas that i had previously posted on Our Samarbeta discussion on Youngman , which already dealt with issues of transformation.  I am a bit hesitant to re-introduce these thoughts but I am doing that as I believe it is relevant to this particular forum, also considering that the audience has changed.

Here is a summary of what I believe TRANSFORMATION in Adult Education may be.

I suggest two levels of transformation: 1) personal/local, and 2) local/global. Not everyone and not every context may necessarily become part of either transformation process.


Constructivist progressive orientation

I believe that in this perspective the “educator helps link disparate experiences into a coherent whole.” (Dewey cited in Fenwick, p.3)   Learners are made aware of the level of responsibility required for their educational path. They engage in problem-solving activities to become successful in their chosen fields. The teacher acts as a guide and promoter of critical change geared at reforming and redressing system imbalances through a process of understanding civil responsibility and issues of active citizenship.


This level is more relevant for our discussion. It incorporates the personal growth of the previous step and takes it to a higher level.

At this stage an educator may engage in the following practices:

  • Promoting the discussion of complex and “delicate” intercultural issues
  • Promoting awareness and recognition of issues of – among others – governmentability, self-subjugation, oppression, and discrimination.
  • Promoting awareness, recognition and critique of socially-relevant dimensions, including cultural assumptions. (Intercultural dimension)

I believe that this level, which has a strong political accent, may be approached in different ways, or even a combination of ways. Contextualizing and framing conditions of oppression and inequality is a prerequisite to adopting the most effective approach to global transformation. The role of the state, civil society, stakeholders, and other actors is a defining factor at this complex level of transformation. I have the feeling that most of the actions premised on transformation combine one or more of the following approaches.

Constructivist radical orientation

Here the teacher acts as a promoter of conscience and an external force that can empower students and facilitate social transformation. Freire’s pedagogy of conscientization seems to move in this direction, beyond the stiffness and the oppressing dictates of banking education. However, his ideas – as many of us have realized – are based on a set of dichotomous axioms that may not agree with changed conditions and discourses on transformative education of our time.

I also believe it’s important, for example in the case of South Africa, to consider the intercultural dimension. I believe that a radical approach would be very suitable to examine, discuss, and challenge cultural discourses, assumptions, issues of cultural representations and otherization, and personal narratives. Ultimately, a radical orientation could be more effective at uncovering and possibly overcoming issues of oppression, cultural relativism and essentialism, and eventually at addressing the imbalances that are still part of our social and educational models.

However, this approach may entail possibilities for culture clashes and it may be of difficult application within the dominant world view, given the level of psychological and cultural embeddedness of current educational paradigms and relevant social frameworks and discourses. That’s when dialogue comes in, as a means and context for critical consciousness (awareness would be another word that comes to mind) building.

Constructivist transformational orientation

Here the teacher acts as a promoter of transformation processes. According to Merizow (1991), this approach leads “to a dramatic shift or transformation in the learner’s way of viewing the world.” by “bringing of one’s assumptions, premises, criteria, and schemata into consciousness and vigorously critiquing them.” (Fenwick, 2001, p. 13)

This orientation is suitable to challenge and discuss cultural assumptions through cognitive reflection, as suggested by Freire. However, one has to recognize that not everyone is interested in shifting perspective, or capable of reflecting cognitively, in which cases this approach may feel to some like a piloted operation.

From a practical point of view, I believe intercultural dialogic communication as envisioned by intercultural thinkers such as David Bohm, Martin Buber, Fred Casmir, Muneo Yoshikawa and many others belongs within this perspective. It aims at the development of a high level of dialogue competence that can benefit intercultural understanding. (Matoba, 2002, p. 143)

Enactivist orientation

This perspective promotes a new paradigm of learning derived from whole systems thinking. It transcends the confinements of the established world view and its embedded traditional education practices. The educator is viewed as a communicator, story-maker, and interpreter. (Fenwick, 2001, p. 49)

This entails an investigative, open-ended approach to learning that is not separate from teaching. The language used in this perspective is conducive to understanding relations between systems, including the interplay between actors and issues in the education universe. This presides over the co-emergence of an interrelated pattern, in which “each participant’s understandings are entwined with those of other participants, and individual knowledge co-emerges with collective knowledge.” (Fenwick, 2001, p. 49)

Since this approach is linked to the broader, global perspective of whole systems thinking, it allows one to relate her/his professional practice to the emergence of a new thinking paradigm, which I consider central to the role of an educator.

Enactivist educators “can provide feedback loops to a system as it experiments with different patterns leading out from disequilibrium.” (Fenwick, 2001, p.50) This resonates with views of a paradigmal change such as those presented by Dr. Ervin Laszlo, founder of The Club of Budapest, in his work on macroshifts. (Laszlo, 2001)

This perspective, however, may be of difficult application under today’s established educational circumstances, as it requires reframing current paradigms, discourses, and world views. But this is exactly the challenge of transformative education, which is experimental, forward and critical thinking. Freire certainly caught the essence of the imbalances that affect our societies (then, and today). The question for us, I believe, is to incorporate his ideas into the changing context of the third millennium.


Fenwick, T. (2001) “Experiential Learning: A Theoretical Critique from Five Perspectives” Information Series No 385, ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career and Vocational Education now located at the Centre for Education & Training for Employment at Ohio State University, accessed on June 2, 2009 at

Laszlo, E. (2001). Macroshift: Navigating the transformation to a sustainable world. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler

Matoba, K. (2002) “Dialogue Process as Communication Training for Multicultural Organizations” in Bohnet-Joschko, S. (2002). Socially responsible management:

Mezirow, J. (1991) Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

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Zelda Writes:

Dear All

I have read Oscar’s additonal posting.  Thanks so much.  I have asked this question previously, and am asking it again.  What do Mezirow and Youngman propose to change, through transformative adult education (Youngman) and transformative learning (Mezirow)?  is it the same?


Hi Zelda,

Sorry for not answering those questions earlier. Here are my thoughts in that regard.

Youngman: his idea of transformative adult education stems from a political analysis of issues of oppression, ultimately from a perspective derived from political economy. He views transformation through adult education as a collective process through which people (the “masses” as Freire would have said) are able to conquer issues of social inequality, disenfranchment, marginalization, discrimination, etc. To a lesser degree than Freire’s theory of conscientization, Youngmans displays a dichotomous perspective that is still heavily influenced by the juxtaposition of capitalist and Marxist class views of a political economy, even though he has come to include many aspects of social issues that cannot be examined from a traditional class perspective. (Feminism, environmentalism, etc) His thinking is the product of 19th and 20th centuries political economy discourses.

Merirow: The core of his transformative learning is the individual learners’ ability to construe, validate, and reformulate the meaning of their experience. The emphasis is on “perspective transformation” as a means to promote personal growth and, eventually influence the emergence of a new society. Rather than a society based on Youngman’s dichotomous views, Merirow envisions a society that would display the traits of a Third-Culture, where the new is not just a better version of the old, but is instead a transformed thinking paradigm. Merirow’s transformative learning is dialectic, suitable to challenge and discuss cultural assumptions through cognitive reflection (it leads “to a dramatic shift or transformation in the learner’s way of viewing the world” by “bringing of one’s assumptions, premises, criteria, and schemata into consciousness and vigorously critiquing them”); (p. 13)

“Others’ views can act as mirrors for our own views, opening dialectic, helping us “unfreeze” our “meaning perspectives” (Mezirow 1991) and assumptions.  This is very different from Youngman’s exclusion of juxtaposed views. In Merirow’s case we confront and challenge the taken-for-granted norms— what’s wrong with how I am seeing what happened and how it happened?—leading to a dramatic shift or transformation in the learner’s way of viewing the world.

To summarize, I believe that Youngman’s views on transformation are driven by political discourses and focus on social issues from a political economy perspective. Merirow instead views transformation as an individual process of growth derived from self-reflection and a dialectical approach with the other that will eventually transcend individual differences and give raise to something new akin to a Third-Culture. In this regard, Merirow’s theory is undoubtedly systems-based.





GLORIA wrote:     link to forum

While oppression remains, so Freire’s ideas remain relevant and more sophisticated, complex or modern concepts serve only to cover up the basics – poverty, inequality, exploitation etc.

Hi Gloria,

Thank you for adding some additional thoughts. Your posts are always interesting.

I’d like to comment on the above, as I am not sure I can agree with you on that hundred per cent. You are absolutely right that the issues remain the same, taking us all back to the overarching role of power in our societies.

During the past century we witnessed a ping pong game between Marxism and Capitalism. They were just two sides of the same coin: they shared the same basic world view. When I consider other options is mainly because such dichotomous game didn’t really change much for marginalized people. It even created additional marginalization and oppression that are more difficult to be detected, as they are so much based on the victims’ “willing” co-operation. (Consumerism, to support the socialist or the capitalist economies, is all about “free” participation.)

I certainly agree that mere philosophical speculations on alternative solutions are not going to feed the starving masses, nor are they going to “solve” anything per se’. I believe, however, that we need to move beyond the Cartesian discourses that have dominated the scene since the age of the Enlightenment. If we don’t do that, we remain stuck.



GLL – The Intercultural dimension – Third Culture Building

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, development, South Africa, Adult Education, Intercultural Communication, Transformation, Third-Culture, Hybridity, Integration.

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

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Link to General Discussion Forum (Cafe)

Hello everyone!

In this post I would like to take a critical stand towards Walters’ article.

It seems to me that – aside from a generic “lip service” reference to the importance of culture for civil society and adult learning approaches – she fails to address the cross-cultural and multilingual dimension of South African society. I have noticed such absence also in the other readings presented in this course.

That is of course a complex issue that would require, especially in the case of South Africa, attentive and systemic analysis. Nevertheless, I believe that a comprehensive discussion on adult learning in South Africa should not hide the fact that South Africa is a multilingual, multicultural and multiethnic society and that the dynamics of communication in such complex web of cultures greatly affect any kind of cooperative efforts and dialogue.

The composite intercultural make-up of South African society is by no mean a marginal factor in decisional policies on adult education and learning. In fact, I like to see it as the platform on which any workable project can be built on.

The Intercultural Communication dimension of education and development in South Africa is premised first of all on the actual cultural and language variations found in the population, but it is also stressed in the broader discourse on globalization, education, and development.

As Richard Evanoff writes in an interesting paper on Intercultural Dialogue and Education,” “From the point of view of intercultural education the alternative model of development advocates democratizing the decision-making process in a way that fully takes the interests and concerns of non-elites into consideration.”

Walters, like the other authors reviewed so far, very often use terms like transformation, dialogue, and communication without taking a closer look at these concepts. I realize that a discussion on this topic would be complex and long, thus I want to end this post with the following statement.

Elaborating, defining and enacting new workable and effective policies for Adult Learning in South Africa is a somewhat Herculean task. I believe that a process of transformation will need to take place, based on dialogue and respectful/effective intercultural communication. In that regard, we will need to first define what kind of transformation we are striving towards, which also means that we need to be up front about what kind of society we are envisioning, given the richness of cultures and languages co-existing in South Africa. Processes of society-building in such complex intercultural context will need to clarify what kind of transformation will develop in South Africa and towards what model the country is moving, e.g. integration, thirdculture building, or hybridity. (Each of these terms means a different future scenario).

The following is an example, extrapolated from Evanoff’s article (2001)

“When dialogue between people from different cultures begins, we can also speak of an integrated “third culture” perspective in sociological terms. When third-culture individuals from different cultures (i.e., individuals who have integrated aspects of the other culture into their own personal psychology) begin working together with each other, they may evolve entirely new ways of doing things.”

The road ahead is wide open.


Kathy wrote:

thank you for bringing to our attention the idea of a third culture – how would you compare this to ‘ a community of practice’ ?

Hi Kathy,

You are raising a very interesting question that would require time to be properly addressed.

Briefly, the “third-culture” model I was referring to was presented by Fred Casmir (1993) in Third-culture building: A paradigm shift for international and intercultural communication. Communication Yearbook. 16, 407-428.

There is by now a lot of literature available on Third-culture building, which would make it hard for me to even try to squeeze it into a post. An interesting summary is available at:

In general, I agree with Casmir, although I believe that local governments – as evidenced in Walters’ article and Marie’s post – may be in a position to promote a third-culture approach.

Casmir views are similar to those promoted in their scholarly work by Young Yun Kim, Brent Ruben, Peter Adler, Muneo Jay Yoshikawa, Richard Evanoff, David Bohm, Alexander Langer, and Getinet Belay (to cite just a few) in their extensive work on Intercultural transformation, identity, multicultural identity,  intercultural identity, transformation, building bridges, interplay of local and global dimensions, systems thinking. Theirs writings seem to be all informed by a General System perspective that allows for flexibility and recognizes that

“human beings are equipped with the capacity to maintain an overall integrity despite the continual instability, and that such systemic integrity is possible because of an open system’s capacity to evolve, that is, to develop new forms of relating to a given milieu.” (Young Yun Kim, Beyond Cultural Identity, Intercultural Communication Studies IV:1 1994)

It is indeed a fascinating work in progress!

This line of scholarly work is linked to the broader discourse on Intercultural dialogue (which would also require more time for a meaningful discussion), which I have addressed in other parts of this course.

As for the link between third-culture building and “communities of practice” (as in Wenger), here are my thoughts. From my reading of Wenger’s participation perspective and communities of practice, even considering the merits and the systems view of her perspective, it seems to me that it lacks the necessary recognition of intercultural factors that is central to the development of a third-culture approach. Wenger rarely consider intercultural dynamics, which seems to make her approach not easily adopted in a multicultural contested context like South Africa. Compared to Wenger’s overly codified model, I believe that dialogue applied to a third-culture perspective would offer a much more flexible and effective approach to issues of local/global education.

GLORIA wrote:

I think we have evolved a third culture of sorts.  What is not evident in our thinking and articulation yet, is the recognition and value afforded those attributes that have come from cultural traditions that are still marginalised in the realms of power – politics, formal education, economic/business


Thank you so much for your comments on Third Culture (TC) and how the concept seems to have found resonance within NZ. I believe the reason why I am interested in exploring it more is twofold: firstly, it seems it applies also to my home region, and secondly, it relates to the wider spectrum of inter and cross-cultural communication experiences. (international sojourners, immigrants, international students, international workers…). Basically, it embraces both a personal and a social dimension, which I find truly fascinating, as it links personal experience to the local/global contexts of our planetary society.

Today I did some reading up on third-culture building to better understand its applicability to the specific South African scenario. It seems that your comments on its coming short on the examination of power issues are right on target. And although TC presents itself as an opportunity for the emergence of a societal and cultural transformation, it isn’t clear how it deals with those who resist such evolutionary process. Some view TC as being in opposition to the more emic idea of multiculturalism.

I believe that the two perspectives need not be in opposition or even self exclusive. There is room for a combined productive co-existence. For me, the key to the success of TC building processes is summarized by the word synergy, which can be loosely defined as “the relational interdependence” that constitutes the building block of TC development. (Robert Shuter, On Third-Culture Building, 1993) I also believe that such synergistic approach should be based on a shared vision of a new emerging paradigm, a vision not enforced from the top down. Casmir called it an approach “from the bottom up,” which resonates with Walters’ “connect up” model.

Like the old SBS Australia spot once said: The world is an amazing place!

Best to all of you folks!

Anita wrote:

My children, and those of my peers, are far, far beyond multiculturalism. I truly think they are forging some sort of third culture in this social crucible they find themsleves it.  Unlike multiculturalism, this is not planned, encouraged, or government policy; it is simply people adapting to their environments, and creating new ways of being as a result.  This is a profound change and it is not being documented as well as it might be, I think because there is still a societal tendency to view it through the limiting lens of multiculturalism.


Your conclusion really points at the essence of the multicultural vs. TCB dichotomy. And, as I wrote in my previous post, the two phenomena apparently co-exist side by side, maybe symbolizing a generational transition to a paradigm shift in the way cultures will intersect and possibly evolve in the future. (a future that, like in your example, has already begun).

In his article cited in a previous post, Evanoff (2001) suggests an advanced stage of intercultural development, which results from a process of cultural transformation. He calls this stage a “generative” stage “in which entirely new forms of culture are creatively produced.”

Evanoff expands on Milton Bennett’s Development Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), which I discussed in previous courses and presented in a group paper posted at It was also mentioned in a discussion thread in Itslearning.

By going beyond Bennett’s Model, Evanoff suggests that, in a globalized society of co-existing cultural perspectives and traditions,

“ The goal is not simply to say which of the existing cultural pies is best (ethnocentricism) nor to simply say that each of the pies is equally delicious on its own terms (ethnorelativism), but to make a better and different pie. The generative stage provides for the possibility of both personal and social transformation. Not all of the new options we are able to generate will be of equal value (some may be flops, others unworkable), but there is nonetheless a need for ongoing experimentation.”

Evanoff provides with a hopeful, holistic approach to intercultural understanding, one that will transcend the confinements of “tolerance” and emerge into a new stage of human co-operation.


what Robert Wickert wrote in his article Acculturation and Intercultural Identity in the Post-Modern World

“Casmir makes the profoundly valid observation that the modern state has proven itself ineffective in dealing with intercultural and interethnic problems” (Belay, 1993). His alternative to the existing model takes the form of a proposal that compares the conventional social scientific paradigm to the functional needs of people, organizations, and states. He argues that the conventional paradigm is focused on domination not cooperation, but the use of domination as the primary measure of success is inconsistent with the needs of people, organizations, and states. The domination paradigm is consistent with assimilation, not mutual acculturation of the host culture and the individual.

Casmir (1993) explains that the use of the domination model is based on the Western view of argument and rhetoric. Belay notes that “linear, one-sided models that are derived from Aristotelian logic constrain the analysis of intercultural communication” (Belay, 1993). This Western model of argument and dominance is even more absurd when one takes into account the fact that many of the intercultural communication episodes studied will certainly involve cultures where the Western view may not be held by either side of the conversation.

Casmir (1993) rejects the domination model and characterizes the third culture building process as the natural outgrowth of non-threatening cooperation. Dominance is not intended and should not result from the acculturation process. Consistent with Kim’s characterization of acculturation, where the individual becomes comfortable with the new society as the new society becomes comfortable with the individual as acculturation is accomplished; the third culture is built only when “the participants engage in an active, coordinated, mutually beneficial process of building a relationship” (Casmir, 1993). This mirrors Kim’s theory of acculturation, and her theory of development of an intercultural identity.


Ackoff, R., (1984) “On the Nature of Development and Planning”, in Korten, D. C., & Klauss, R., People-centered development: Contributions toward theory and planning frameworks. West Hartford, Conn: Kumarian Press

Bohm, D., & Nichol, L. (1996). On dialogue. London: Routledge

Casmir, F. (1993) in Third-culture building: A paradigm shift for international and intercultural communication. Communication Yearbook. 16, 407-428

Cologne Charter, Aims and Ambitions for Lifelong Learning (1999), adopted be the 25th G8 Summit in Cologne, Germany, 18-20 June Accessed on Sept. 5, 2009 at

Evanoff, R. (2001) Discussion Paper on intercultural dialogue and education. UNU – United Nations University Accessed on September 2, 2009 at

Fenwick, T. (2001) “Experiential Learning: A Theoretical Critique from Five Perspectives” Information Series No 385, ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career and Vocational Education now located at the Centre for Education & Training for Employment at Ohio State University, accessed on June 2, 2009 at

Foucault, M. (1991) “Governmentality” In The Foucault Effect, edited by G. Burchell, C. Gordon, and P. Mills, pp. 87-104. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. [New York]: Herder and Herder

Knowles, M. (1984) The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Company

Korten, D. C., & Klauss, R. (1984). People-centered development: Contributions toward theory and planning frameworks. West Hartford, Conn: Kumarian Press.

Land, S. (2006). Barriers to education faced by educationally deprived adults in

Muthukrishna, N. (ed.) Mapping Barriers to Basic Education in the Context of HIV and AIDS: A Report on Research conducted in the Richmond District, KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg: School of Education and Development, University of Kwazulu Natal.

Rostow, W. W. (1960). The stages of economic growth, A non-Communist manifesto. Cambridge [Eng.]: University Press.

Shuter, R. (1993). On third culture building. Communication Yearbook. 16, 429-436.

The Learning Cape, web page, accessed on Sept. 3, 2009

Toffler, A. (1984) “Third Wave Development: Gandhi with Satellites,” in Korten, D. C., & Klauss, R., People-centered development: Contributions toward theory and planning frameworks. West Hartford, Conn: Kumarian Press

Toland, J. and Yoong, P. (ND) A Framework to Evaluate Learning Regions:

The ‘7-I’ Approach, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Accessed on Sept. 10, 2009 at

Trainer, F. E. (1989). Developed to death: Rethinking Third World development. London: Green Print

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

United Nations Development Programme- UNDP (2003). South Africa Human Development Report. New York: Oxford University Press. Accessed on August 19, 2009 at

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

Walters, S. (2005) Optimism of the will, pessimism of the intellect: Building communities of trust in South Africa. The annual Q-Africa Conference at Gallagher Estate, 16-17 November 2005. Accessed on Sept 9, 2009 at

Woolcock, M. (1998). Social capital and economic development: Toward a theoretical synthesis and policy framework. THEORY AND SOCIETY. 27 (2), 151-208.

Young Yun Kim, Beyond Cultural Identity, Intercultural Communication Studies IV:1 1994

Youngman, F. (2000). Adult Education and Development Theory in The Political Economy of Adult Education & Development, (Chapter 4). London: Zed Press.


On John Dewey

Cologne Charter on Lifelong Learning

A Memorandum on Lifelong Learning, EU Commission

The Learning Cape

David Bohm: On Dialogue, On-line version:

Journal of Intercultural Communication, Goteborg universitet

Pamala Morris’ Training Module on Building Cultural Competencies:

Milton Bennett’s Development Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS):

On Global Education:

Coyote #13, Intercultural Dialogue

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 – On the steady growth model


COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, growth, development

Step 2 – Part 1

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Marie wrote

Like you Oscar, I question the report’s prescription for economic growth. For example, how will  more productive, less labour intensive, technologies translate into new jobs on the one hand, while on the other hand one seeks to alleviate unemployment by devolving production to use more labour intensive employment?  Surely these are lower paying positions, and don’t impact the underlying power imbalance of who is in control of capital production? It seems to me that this problem of capital intensive technology replacing labour intensive production methods is a global issue and one that will require more than local efforts to resolve.

Thanks for adding spice to my comments! (-: I remember that the issues you raise were also discussed in the course on Work and learning, specifically with regard to possible future scenarios of the work market. (Beck, U. (2000). The future of work and its scenarios: An interim balance-sheet (Chapter 4). In The brave new world of work (pp. 36-66). Cambridge, UK: Polity Press)

The issue for me is on finding an alternative to currently employed paradigms that have failed repeatedly over the decades. We need to adopt a language that is innovative, in that it clearly diverges from current and past discourses. I believe that the language introduced in this course (annotations on local/global learning) and the terminology used in people-centered discussions is appropriate for such transformational shift.


Anita wrote:

I felt that the report’s recommendations about development were a bit vague in that they set out the goals and outcomes but not really how those could be achieved. I agree with Oscar that we need new ways of thinking, and therefore speaking (or vice versa I guess) about these issues if we are to achieve a different result in SA or globally. I think people are collectively working on re-naming and re-thinking but it will  take time and it seems clear we are not there yet. For example, I am struck by the extent to which the global response to the economic downturn has been to do more of the same. I think the emphasis on economic growth has to be abandonned in favour of language that is people-centred, and environoment-centred.


I couldn’t agree more with what you said. (which makes it easier for me to respond to your post). I also notice a tendency to go back to better times, when everyone was happy and dancing, at least according to many people’s faulty memory. This is particularly true for the way our current economic and social stagnation has been handled by the ruling class ( the same class, more or less, that has lead us into this mess). In the case of South Africa, I feel that – in a sense – part of what has been implemented there has been a bold experiment, an attempt at  breaking away from the past…oooo and what a past!  In spite of South Africa’s GEAR Program ( as mentioned by Mohamed) and the neo-liberal approach adopted, which proves that  policies have not always worked, I still believe that certain choices – particularly with regard to education – were intentionally transformational in nature. Besides, who is to say that continuing on a collision course based on a western notion of perennial growth would yield better results? By choosing to address socio-environmental issues over maintaining the advantages of an unbalanced economic system, South African policy drafters could take a step in the right direction.


GLL – on Barriers to education in South Africa

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, South Africa, development

Step 2 – Part 1: on Barriers to education

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Land, S. (2006). Barriers to education faced by educationally deprived adults in Muthukrishna, N. (ed.) Mapping Barriers to Basic Education in the Context of HIV and AIDS: A Report on Research conducted in the Richmond District, KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg: School of Education and Development, University of Kwazulu Natal.

What are the main barriers to basic education identified by adult learners in this study?

According to the this study, the following are the main barriers mentioned by interviewees:

Poverty and unemployment

  • Having to work as “slaves” for the family,
  • Finding money for transport;
  • Lack of transport (especially, lack of affordable transportation);
  • Fear of crime, i.e. fear of being attacked on their way to school;
  • Gender issues, i.e. discrimination against women accessing education;
  • Status quo in the family, i.e. “education should not change power relations between husband and wife.” (p.89)

Social breakdow

(few people agreed on):

  • Social breakdown in families impact on education;
  • The use of drugs and alcohol impacts school attendance;

Health issues

  • Poor health, disability, and illnesses;
  • Suspected learning disabilities; (suggested by the researches)
  • Loss of parents to HIV/AIDS (which forces some children to drop out of school);
  • HIV/AIDS would cause lack of income, (p. 93), and fear (p. 95);

What are the main factors identified by adult learners in this study that support their efforts to learn?

These factors are:

  • Motivation to learn;
  • “Implicit perception of whites as potential employers, “ which would support the learners’ contact with white teachers;
  • Some hoped for increased chances of employment;
  • Interest in overcoming sense of inadequacy;
  • Support from family (which even strengthens their parental roles);
  • Employer support;

Discuss this comment in her Conclusion, Land (2006) comments that “It is tempting to salute the resilience of adults who survive and retain the will to learn in situations as severe and discouraging as those described above. However, doing so would, in a sense, sanction the conditions under which they live in, by intimating that they are bearable”.

Yes, this comment has merit and relates to what Gloria wrote in the forum (“The costs of global influences, cultural transformations, are borne more heavily by marginalized groups which has led to social separation”.) and also to Marie’s post (“Risk that global/local learning will evolve within a society in a way that culturally disempowers local community, contributing to continued economic injustices and environmental degradation.”)

This relates also to the traps of governmentability, defined by Foucault as “A form of power that is exercised through an ensemble of institutions, procedures, analyses, and reflections, which results in the formation of a specific governmental apparatus (Foucault, M. “Governmentality.” In The Foucault Effect, edited by G. Burchell, C. Gordon, and P. Mills, pp. 87-104. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991). (Fenwick, p. 42

As seen earlier in the program, similar issues are also brought up by Chappell et al. in “Selfwork”.

They suggest that, despite all the good intentions, we may still remain trapped in the cultural framework from which we have emerged, and in which we operate. Such view remains for the most part unchallenged and is self-perpetuating. In this regard, Chappell et al. mention that in some cases “the self participates in its own subjugation and domination whether it is through ‘false consciousness’ produced by membership of a particular social group, or the internalisation of social ‘oppression’ through individual ‘repression’ ”. (Chappelll, C., Rhodes, C., Solomon, N., Tennant, M. and Yates, L. (2003) “Selfwork” in Reconstructing the Lifelong Learner: Pedagogy and identity in individual, organisational and social change (2003) by C. Chappelll, C. Rhodes, N. Solomon, M. Tennant & L. Yates Routledge Falmer, London, p. 6)

Foucault (1980) wrote how, when subjected to the  perpetual surveillance of normalizing practices that classify, measure, and judge them, people begin monitoring and regulating their own behavior to conform with pre-established standards. Eventually, they become self-policing, their “selves” becoming objects of their own critical gaze of measurement and control.” (p. 42) In this way, individuals retain their independence from the institutional context, but also grow into it.

Taking into account the issues identified in your discussion of both readings, discuss the view that South Africa offers a microcosm of global inequalities where a small population has a very high standard of living and a majority of people live in impoverished contexts? Indicate whether and why you agree or disagree.

In Land’s article, the researchers admit that there had been a slight misunderstanding in the level of expectation participants had with regard to their participation. Some thought that by cooperating with the researchers, something might have been done to alleviate the level of their personal despair. This brings be to the following comment:

In a polarized context like South Africa’s, where there is indeed a microcosm of inequalities. our discussion has pinpointed various aspects of such inequalities. Above all, access to education still eludes the vast majority mainly due to lack of available financial resources and appropriate investments. This maintains the status quo, with a rich minority living alongside a very large, poor minority.

I believe that we need to return to the etymological meaning of the word hope, otherwise the risk is high for people to become disillusioned. The UNDP report, like many others like it, may serve the purpose of stirring the lethargic attitude found in the universe of development agencies, but does little to change the balance of power in praxis. This should not come as a surprise, if one looks at who is actually controlling international organizations (certainly not disenfranchised, undereducated, destitute people).

GLL – on UNDP South Africa report 2003

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, South Africa, development

Step 2 – Part 1: on UNDP South Africa report 2003

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Here are my comments on the UNDP South Africa report (2003).

United Nations Development Programme (2003). South Africa Human Development Report. New York: Oxford University Press.

What do you consider to be three of the most striking features of South African society, as described in the reading? Explain why you have selected these three features?

The legacy of the apartheid era still bears on chances to establish a form of sustainable development in the country. Apartheid-era policies were “not based on improving the living conditions of the majority of South Africans, and thus became unsustainable.” (xv)

The new South Africa emerged from such scenario. Today, from my understanding of the Report, the striking features of South African society are as follows:

1) Issues with regard to the commitment to transformation by South Africa’s leaders (xi), which touch on social capital building (xviii) and on the failure of the South African government’s policies (xv);

2) Widespread issues of inequalities and poverty — both inherited from the previous apartheid era and resulting from current policies (xi); these issues include unequal income distribution (xvi);

3) Issues of unsustainable environmental approaches (xviii);

4) Issues relating to the multicultural and multilingual make-up of South Africa’s population.

With reference to this last point, the report introduction fails to mention the richness found in South Africa’s cultural diversity, which is, however, recognized by the country’s constitution. Such omission makes me wonder whether racial tensions and intercultural dynamics have been intentionally left out, or else are by now considered as a marginal issue. I would prefer a pro-active and forward-thinking conceptualization of South Africa’s language and cultural diversity, envisioning a context where the many facets of the country’s cultural diversity and sometimes fragmentation will enter the equation of sustainable development, also through a relevant transformative approach to education that will recognize such diversity as a powerful learning asset.

Identify and comment on key development issues, related to social transformation, confronting the South African society.

The Report cites 5 central challenges confronting the future of sustainable development in South Africa:

  • The eradication of poverty and extreme income and wealth inequalities;
  • The provision of access to quality and affordable basic services to all South Africans, especially the poor;
  • The promotion of environmental sustainability;
  • A sustained reduction in the unemployment rate,
  • And the attainment of sustainable high growth rates.

These five challenges interface with the striking issues identified in the first part of this post.

In general, I found two main ideas in the introduction of the Report that are worthwhile mentioning:

a) The idea of engaging all stakeholders in a networked effort to establish viable sustainable development policies and relevant actions, and of holding them accountable for achieving such objectives (xii);

b) The idea of tapping into people’s resources (“unlocking people’s creativity”) (xv).

I also want to mention that the Report consistently emphasizes “high growth levels” and the “growth path” as unquestioned paradigmal goals of successful future policies. I find it strange and also disconcerting that a report premised on effective, dialectic, relational and system-oriented solutions (references are found throughout the introduction) would not take a more critical stand towards the questionable developmental model based on the equation progressive, steady growth equals development.

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