Historically, adult education and literacy have evolved outside the formal system of education. Adult education and literacy programs have often been referred to as nonformal education. Typically, formal education stresses the development of academic skills, while informal education stresses the development of skills learned in the workplace, or the community at large.


Several theories and philosophies guide adult education and literacy. This entry focuses on two well-known and distinctively opposed approaches: technicist-vocational and popular liberating education. The technicist-vocational approach targets mostly working class adults and stresses a utilitarian approach in which the learner gains essential knowledge and skills in reading, writing, and computation for effective functioning in society. The main concern is to help the participants fit into the existing socioeconomic structure, particularly jobs ...

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