The Tensions between the Purpose of Education and the Practice in Adult EducationIntroductionThere has been renewed interest throughout the world to push for vocational education and training (VET) since it promotes development of skills for improved productivity and sustainable competitiveness in the Global economy (Dasmani, 2011:67). Many countries have transformed their education system in the direction the world of work with specific focus on the acquisition of employable skills which have been continuously modified to be a more attractive, efficient and effective. Like in other countries, Australia has sought for VET that commensurate with market needs (Barnett and Ryan, 2005:89).
Nonetheless, this has not been without challenges particularly revolving the many unresolved tensions and conflicts, some of which have persisted up the date. This paper aims at a critical examination of the contemporary contexts adult education and training, and analyzes the relationship between theory and practice in light of VET. It addressed two fundamental questions: First, what are the various tensions experienced by Australian VET teachers in public VET institutions as a result of market-based VET provision? Second, in what ways are the tensions negotiated?
The rest of the paper is structured as follows: Section 2 presents a brief overview of the key concepts. Section 3 gives an exhaustive description of vocational training and explanations of key contemporary issues facing practitioners in the area of practice. The next section (4) suggests ways of reconciling the existing tension and the final section 5 presents conclusions drawn from the findings. Key ConceptsAdult learning and educationAdult learning and education has been defined as simply the provision of learning in the process and context that respond to the various needs of adult (Onyenemezu, 2012).
It assists learners to be independent, establish self-reliance, building and reestablishing own lives in all spheres including their work, the family, community and social life in the modern world characterized by dynamic, fast changing cultures, societies as well as economies (Khodamoradi et al. ,2012). It not only gives specific competences, but it also enhanced ones’ confidence, esteem, self identity and support (Hinzen, 2009:19). Adult education and learning can also be defined as in any form, based on the needs of the adult and geared towards the social, economical, and cultural improvement as well as empowering the person to be able to contribute favorably to his or her own society (Onyenemezu, 2012: 4).
It revolves around efforts aimed at tackling the socioeconomic, cultural, political and environmental problems in many societies since adults are seen as the key occupants or players in the production sectors of various economies (Bozorgmanesh et al, 2012: 676). Specifically, it is designed to assist adults to live meaningfully as useful members of the society contributing to the general development (Fasokun, 2006).
It is also aimed at offering in-service or vocational education in order to improve skills for various workers and professionals (Onyenemezu, 2012: 4). Marketization of VET Marketization or market based VET simply means privatization and involves the incorporation of market aspects/mechanism in the field of VET (Seddon, 2008). It entails one of the fundamental reforms in Australia which saw the shift from TAFEs that were basically extensions of state education departments to a free market where providers or institutions competed for not only government funding, but also for students (Karme, 2011).
After 1974 and until the end of the 20th century, VET was delivered under the Technical and Further Education (TAFE) initiated by the Australia Committee on Technical and Further education (Evans, Haughey and Murrphy, 2008:186).