As the current pandemic continues to impact communities across the world, the role of Adult Learning and Education (ALE) in supporting learners in continuing their education and encouraging social action cannot be understated. With this perspective, DVV International initiated a conversation with experts and practitioners in the field of ALE from different regions of the world. The aim of this was to learn about their views on the position of adult learning in responding to the current pandemic and in facing the challenges in the post-COVID-19 era.
The answers from the experts touch upon a diverse set of topics. Experts from Great Britain discussed the wave of social solidarity witnessed across nations and the need to deal with scientific knowledge. Perspectives from the Global South highlighted how inequity had exacerbated the impact of the pandemic.
Providing the Indian perspective, Dr. Rajesh Tandon (Founder-President, PRIA & Co-chair, UNESCO Chair in Community-Based Research & Social Responsibility in Higher Education) described the situation in the country by highlighting how the pandemic has deepened the existent gap between the rich and poor. The pandemic had brought to the forefront the inadequacy of the public health infrastructure to tackle a health crisis. The continuous dissemination of information and orders by public authorities in English further accentuated the communication gap present between the authorities and the community. It is this gap, he states, that local organisations have stepped up to fill by carrying out initiatives to share information in regional languages. Dr. Tandon points out that local actors and organisations have remained vital in responding to the needs of the community. As the local remains the first port of action when an emergency strikes, he shares that the role of ALE practitioners is critical in strengthening local social capital in each community and region. While re-imagining the new normal, Dr. Tandon states that there is a need to unlearn past paradigms and imbibe the new attitudes of compassion, care, dignity and respect towards all life forms.
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