In our country illiteracy is one of the basic problems that is a major hindrance in the social and economic progress of the people. Countless steps are being taken by government and private agencies alike to eradicate illiteracy and promote education. In this quest what most agencies neglect is the large population of adults who are in need of similar help. In most western countries age is not a bar in attaining education. Sadly this is not true in India. Any person who is past their youth is laughed out of the traditional schoolroom. Those groups who do take the initiative to promote education among adults are usually ill-equipped to deal with such situations and do not have the requisite training to help them in such efforts.
Teaching adults requires an entirely different skill set as compared to that of an educator who teaches children. Adults have different needs and respond in a manner unlike that of children. They are more experienced and usually earning members of society. They must be treated as equals and not as incapable individuals. Their inability to read and write should not be mistaken for mental insufficiency. Most adults who start learning later in their life are adept at dealing with real life situations and need an education to better their lives.
Educators who take the initiative to teach such individuals must recognize this and change their teaching methods accordingly. They should draw on the experiences of their students and use them to explain theoretical concepts which they may have already practiced in life. Adult students already have set ideas and opinions about most things and it is imperative that their teachers be patient at all times whether or not their point of view agrees.
People who decide to attain education in latter part of their lives do so to improve their standing in the society on to further their career opportunities. They should be introduced to new ideas slowly and gradually instead of thrusting upon them a pile of views that may contradict their own. Such sessions should be treated as a consensual exchange of knowledge. What an educator gives them in the form of numbers and letters they return in first hand experiences.