Factors Motivating Adult Learners Participation in Functional Literacy Programmes

 Factors Motivating Adult Learners Participation in Functional Literacy Programmes


Factors Motivating Adult Learners Participation in Functional Literacy Programmes


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Chapter one on Factors Motivating Adult Learners Participation in Functional Literacy Programmes



Education is the industry that produces manpower for the economy of nations. Therefore, education enhances manpower development by improving the number and quality of human resource. Bareday in Afonja (2013) says that education is truly a mirror of the level of development and the aspiration of any people. Education in general and functional literacy programmes in particular are means of advancing people in terms of giving them knowledge, skills attitudes necessary for expanding their potentials. Akinpelu (2012) is the view that education programmes are organized for learners who have pre-occupation or jobs other than studying. Further words education is associated with vocational occupation or professional stills of development.

Functional literacy is one step further from elementary literacy. It refers to the ability to use the stills of reading writing and computing in the acquisition of such information as would make the individual function more actively and beneficially in the economics, social, political psychological and cultural activities of the community whether or she lives. Essentially, for any adults to participate in any functional literacy programme there must be need for it. Need and motivation are two important things that guide the adult participants in functional literacy progrmmes. Literacy is seen as a tool for developing skill, knowledge and attitudes for the daily survival of human persons. Therefore, literacy is an educational process which aims at in calculating in the individuals the ability to read and write and to carry out basic calculations. Literacy could be seen as the ability to function better in one’s social context. Thus, literacy is aimed at enhancing one’s understanding of the society in which one is required to assume a functional role.

UNESCO (2011) defined it as the ability to identify. Understand, interpreted create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continue of learning by individuals to achieve their goals to develop their knowledge and potential and to participate fully in their community and wider society.  Oduaran (2011) defined functional literacy as one step further up from elementary literacy. It refers aptly to the ability to sue the skills of reading, writing and computing that would benefit the individual. Beder (2010) and Thompson (2012) identified self improvement, family responsibilities, job participation, advancement, urging by other people, social expectations and relationships, escape from bore dome and stimulation and cognitive interest as a basic motivation.

Needs attract the attach adults to take part in functional literacy programmes and five Categories.
i.  Psychological

ii. Safety, stability and security

iii. Belongingness (social affiliation love)

iv. Self-esteem

v.  Self – actualization

The above hierarchy of needs make us understand why adult learners participate in functional literacy programs. For instance, an adult learner who lacks social and economic rewards tend to participate in functional literacy programems so as to improve these needs he years to have and for growth and development of self. The tension and problems learners encounter in his environment or working place will motivate him to learn more so as to find a solution to the tension and problems. He participates in functional literacy programmes so as to improve safety, security for himself, whether in his job or environment. The learning needs of adult learners vary according to their social roe. Adults who newly arrive at working age will be obsessed with learning how to make a living, a woman with young learning how to make a living; a woman with young children will be interested in domestic matters and in the children’s education. So also, a member of a church choir will be interested in learning music better.  The individual as an adult learner has a need that is sometimes termed self-fulfillment or self-actualization. Some adult learners may wish to develop skills in their work which will enable them excel or in other skills from which they may derive satisfaction and recognition such as in sports or in domestic practice like sewing or cooking. Some may wish to enhance their social standing cultivate new social relationships and feel the need for learning how to achieve such needs.

There are some adult learners which may have last on educational opportunities in the past may feel incomplete as persons unless they fill what they see as gaps in their knowledge and education.  The behavior of adult learners is a given environment is aimed at fulfilling basic want or needs which vary at a given time.  The need to improve on one’s job, further knowledge or education, to improve social status, for socialization, mental improvement psychological capability, political orientation, religious improvement, awareness etc will motivate adult learners to participate in functional literacy programmes. The adult learners to participate in functional literacy programs. The adult learners can be a spouse, parents, works, young adults etc. if these needs that motivate them to participate in functional literacy programmes are met, they can be satisfied in the aspect of growth and development for themselves and the society in which they live. The attitude of the adult educator can also motivate adult learners to enroll in functional literacy programmes. Availability of the facilities in the environment where it is located can also encourage earners to participate in literacy programs. Because adult learners are motivated by what they see, how they are treated thereby causing growth and development.

Adult educators should endeavour to translate both the basic human needs and educational needs into interest so as to motivate the adults into participating more in functional literacy programmes. Knowles, stress that the highest expression of the act of the adult educator is skills in helping adult learners to discover and become interested in meeting their needs. Freire (2011) is of the view that in knowing learners needs will enable them organize themselves, translate their needs into interest in order to improve on the aspirations of their potentials. It should be noted that people differ I need the specific needs of the adults should be given in the area of content, methodology and evaluation. Motivation is a psychological concept which explains what exactly propels human beings to voluntarily undertake specific actions. Psychologists differ in their definition of motivation. They define it as drives, needs, incentives reinforcement, energizer, goal and expectancy. Barelson (2014) defined motivation as an inner state that energizes, activates, moves, directs or channel behavior to exert high level of efforts or channel behavior to exert high level of efforts towards some set goals conditioned by efforts, ability to satisfy some individual needs.

Motivation determines largely when an adult learners want to learn and how much far he will not respond to any stimulus unless he is in a state of need and feels he can himself, by responding. As a matter of fat, man’s need must be motivated so that he can be satisfied with himself, his job and his environment he lives. Maslow and Murray two psychologists identified some basic human needs. Murray a cognitive theorist sees internal structure as the basis of human behavior. Thus when the brain is internally instigated, it organizes other psychological processes. He classified motives into two major categories of primary needs and secondary needs. The primary needs in basic requirements for living / such as the need for intake of food, water, air, the need for excretion and exhalation and the need for withdrawal (for safety) when faced with anger.

The secondary needs include the desire to control and influence others, desire to admire some one else, need for independence and need to fight. He further theories that at a given time some needs. Remain until they are satisfied. Murray postulated that needs come to the fore ad expresses themselves with ore urgency than others. Murray was the first need theorist of motivation. Maslow in his principles of motivation has highlighted that human beings are active beings whose behaviours are agitated or propelled by some potent forces. He calls the forces organismicaly based needs. He postulated that unsatisfied need creates tension within an organism thereby serving as a force to direct behavior towards reduction of the tension. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs consists of need for foods, shelter, health, clothing, transportation education.

They need for transformation of experiences and awareness of reality for adult learners and societal benefit. In the area of economic and physical need. This motivate the learner to participate in any of the functional literacy programmes because it will provide the knowledge for their need to be solved. The adult learners want to be economically balanced that is to upgrade their skills and employability gives the need for their participation in functional literacy.

They also participate to meet employment expectations. Adult learners are encouraged because they want to be more acceptable and also to guarantee solution for the quest for a change in job and to reduce poverty. In order words to meet their immediate needs. Learning on the part of adult learners is supplemental and secondary to their primary role in the society. As soon as they identify the needs, they strive towards its fulfillment. They participate due to political need. If ne is not wise politically, their rights and privileges might be trampled upon. The need or the driving force towards their participation in functional literacy programmes. They want to be responsible citizens and live right. The need for mutual interpersonal relationship in a community motivates their participation so that there will be development and executive of policies for the community.

The motive of adult learner’s participation functional literacy programmes is to bring about solution of their felt needs. Adult learners desire a need and they are interested in the programmes in order to develop in their lives. The comfortability of the venue can also motivate adult learner’s participation in functional literacy programmes. The adult learners are group of individuals that need to be gratified; the need can be socially, educational – economic political, psychological, physical needs and also technological needs. If these needs are met, they can function meaningfully in the society they belong.


There has been a rapid increase in the participation of adult learners in functional literacy programmes in recent years. This is evident in the high rate of adult learner’s enrolment in functional literacy programmes in Benin metropolis taking advantage of centres offering such programmes. Inspite of the various tasks which adult learners who participate addles with, they still avail themselves with these learning and activities or opportunities what then could be the motivating factors. To what extent do these factors serve as determinants of adult learner’s participation in functional literacy programmes?  The focus of this study is to determine the factors which motivate adult learner’s participation in functional literacy programmes in Benin metropolis.


1.  What are adult learner’s objectives in participating in functional literacy programmes?

2. To what extent does adult learner’s social interaction or relationship influence their participation in functional literacy programmes?

3. To what extent do adult learner’s psychological characteristics serve as determinants of adult learner’s participation in functional literacy programmes?

4. Do responsibility and personal life factors motivate adult learner’s participation in functional literacy programmes?

5. To what extent do adult learners economic reasons influence their participation in literacy programmes?


This study seeks to find out the factors motivating adult learner’s participation in functional literacy programmes in Benin metropolis. It is to seek the factors enhancing or propelling adult learners to take part in functional literacy programmes. Factors like physiological and basic human factors or needs motivate the adult learners to take part. They take part to seek improvement for what they feel is not fully actualized, until it is fully actualized. The need will continue to bother the adult learners. The study is to know these needs or drives so that the adult educator can be well equipped and prepared on how to teach the adult learners. Cope with them and any situation they might have and to motivate and help them find solutions to those problems. Thereby bringing about growth, change in behavior of the learners and the society to which they belong.


The following assumptions were made in the study;

1. If adults learners needs like physiological needs are not met. It can greatly affect their participation in adult learning.

2. If adult educators who understand these needs of adult learners are not available, it will greatly affect the learners.

3. If programmes designed are not fully exposed to adult learners, they will greatly affect their participation.

4. If the learning environment is not harmonious and peaceful, it will have negative effects on the adult learners.

5. The methodological issues if not carried out properly. It can affect adult learner’s participation in functional literacy programmes negatively.


The study’s findings is to help policy makers both public and private institutions in providing appropriate functional literacy programmes for adult learners to enable them keep a breast of social, economic political, psychological and educational changes. It is the adult educator’s missions in helping adult learners learn what will gratify their needs at whatever level they may be struggling. Therefore, if adults are hungry, they should be helped to learn what will give them food, if they are well-fed, safe, loved and esteemed, they must be helped to explore undeveloped capabilities and become fully equipped. Therefore, the federal government of Nigeria realizing that the only way to transform every area in the country into an advance state and to eradicate literacy, empower citizens is to direct its policy towards equal and adequate educational opportunities for all citizens by creating literacy centres that will promote functional literacy programmes for growth and development. It is therefore very important to determine the factors that motivate adult learners to participate in functional literacy programmes.  


The study is limited to the geographical area of Benin metropolis. It covers specifically adult learners of some selected functional literacy centers who participate in functional literacy programmes.

Definition of Terms

For the purpose of this study the key concepts used are defined below;

1. Adult learners: Mature individuals who participate in a learning situation that will bring about changes.

2. Education: A process of teaching, training and learning made to improve on knowledge, behavior and to develop skills.

3.  Literacy: It is an instrument for acquiring relevant knowledge and skills required for development, literacy is the ability to read and understand a simple text, and to use and transmit written information of everyday life.  It is an activity embedded in social and cultural practices.

4. Functional literacy: The ability to use the skills of reading, writing computing in the acquisition of basic information for development. Also, the use of adult education to acquire knowledge and skills to meet individual’s needs and foster national development.

5. Motivation: It is the management function that stimulates individuals to accomplish set down instructional or organization goals. It is an intrinsic drive towards the fulfillment of personal needs and the improvement of one’s perceived status, it is influenced strongly by extrinsic factors.

6. Literacy programmes: It refers to the programmes designed to enhance the skills, and development. It is also a systematic planned activities intended to equip and individual participants to become skillful in the ability to read, write and compute to an appreciable level. Learning situation.




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