Poonwassie (2001). Adult education in First Nations communities: Starting with the people. (Fundamentals of adult education)

Poonwassie, D. H. (2001). Adult education in First Nations communities: Starting with the people. In D. H. Poonwassie & A. Poonwassie (Eds.), Fundamentals of adult education: issues and practices for lifelong learning (1st ed., pp. 271-285). Thompson Educational Publishing.

[On terminology …]

“First nations is now in use and refers to the first peoples of this land for whom the federal government has fiduciary responsibilities under the Indian Act. The term First Nations does not in any way indicate homogeneity; there are many First Nations peoples who have different languages, cultural traditions and geopolitical characteristics. The term Aboriginal refers to First Nations, Inuit, Métis and Non-Status peoples as defined in the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996).” (p 271-272)

“… for First Nations, it [education] is the responsibility of the federal government.” (p 272)

[On support systems in adult ed for FN people. No family support when student away from home community, language barriers, everyday living in urban settings, shunning for adoption of new cultures.]

“… it is desirable for leaders to establish regional centres for the delivery of university programs or, better yet, community-based programs with local involvement.” (p 275)

“… need for adult literacy training …” (p 276)

[On types of literacy …]

“… other interpretations consider cultural literacy, which means understanding one’s culture — language, social structures, power levels, government, arts, sports and history.” (p 276)

[Specialized institutions]

“… and the Yellow Quill College in Manitoba are examples of post-secondary institutions in which the programs are designed to meet the needs of Aboriginal peoples.” (p 277)

[Benefits of community-based programs]

“The benefits are enormous: graduates tend to seek employment locally rather than away from home; new graduates serve as role models; the community saves transportation and living allowances; personal supports are available within the community; instructors are directly challenged to incorporate local values and history into their courses; and community stakeholders are able to influence the direction of the programs.” (p 277)

[Criticisms of community-based programs]

“… few but persistent: standards are lower in these programs compared to on-campus offerings; students are better prepared if they are exposed to a heterogeneous group of people on a campus; and learning resources on a campus are much more readily available.” (p 277)

[Criticisms are countered by …]

“… well-documented positive outcomes for the graduates and the communities …” (p 277)

“Certain principles can assist in program planning for adult education in First Nations communities. These are: (a) inclusion of the values, culture and spirituality of the local people; (b) consideration of the context for which the program is being designed; (c) recognition of First Nations peoples as central decision-takers (d) consideration for the needs and priorities of First Nations peoples, not those of the bureaucrats; and (e) inclusion of indigenous knowledge and new communication methods (computers, television, film) that will utilize the growing knowledge of the digital society.” (p 283)

Selected references

  • Freire, P. 1971. Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder
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