Global Resources

Open Learning System of Adult Education for Empowering Women in India

Author: R. Singh, S. S. Bal Sween
Publisher: Commonwealth of Learning
Publication Date: Jul 2003
Although there have been improvements over the past twenty years, there remains a significant gender disparity in literacy in India. The rise in women's employment has largely been made possible by the provision of opportunities such as the distance education system, open universities, women's universities and women's studies centres and non-formal adult education. This paper outlines how it is important to recognise the different needs of different groups of women and to integrate women into existing systems of adult education - this includes active promotion of women's education. It then goes on to outline recommendations for what adult learning programmes should aim for and what they should provide. Learning materials should challenge gender stereotypes and focus on promoting income-earning and employment. Attention should be paid to raising women's self-esteem and addressing political and cultural issues. It then looks at four strategies: a Flexible Learning System, Distance Education, Private Education and University Centres of Adult, Continuing Education and Extension. The paper concludes that literacy does not automatically lead to empowerment as this view is based on the individual without acknowledging the society in which they live. Empowerment means supporting women coming together to understand and address gender issues that put them at a disadvantage. In this way they can utilise skills such as literacy in a way that is long-term and context-specific.