2018 Volume 85 Issue 4 Pages 446-457
The aim of this article is to reveal the relationship between adult education activities intended to address the problems of “poverty” and the “institutional framework of post-war adult education” in Japan.
It was immediately after World War II that the roles of municipalities for adult education were prescribed clearly and systematically. In this period the establishment of kominkans was positively promoted, mainly in rural areas. This policy aimed at promoting innovations to overcome irrational styles of living and undemocratic customs in rural areas by means of adult education activities for rural residents themselves, supported by kominkans. In addition, these activities were based on the cooperativity among the people of village communities. However, the adult education staffs in urban municipalities took this “institutional framework of post-war adult education” as suitable only for rural areas. They understood this framework centering on kominkans as designed for rural areas.
In the 1960s and thereafter, people involved with adult education discussed in earnest the unsuitability of this institutional framework for municipal adult education in urban areas. The urban municipalities in this period positively stated in their administrative plans the difficulties of promoting adult education within this framework.
At the same time, many proposals for the drastic innovation of kominkans in urban areas were also offered. The philosophies of these proposals varied, but they shared the idea that a “new type of cooperativity” in urban communities independent from traditional social bonds should be generated by the learning activities of local residents at kominkans. The philosophies of urban adult education in the high-growth period, which intended to generate new types of cooperativity, were based on the given institutional framework, the exact opposite of that of adult education in rural areas immediately after World War II, based on the given traditional cooperativity in village communities. These new proposals, however, tended to overlook the problems of “poverty” in urban areas.
In the 1980s, adult education scholars began to pay attention to the “forgotten people” who were ignored in the philosophies of urban adult education or of kominkans as proposed in the 1960s and 70s. From the 2000s on, they also began to discuss the possibility of adult education activities confronting “social exclusion.”
However, the institutional framework of post-war adult education, which still has a latent influence on activities municipal adult education activities, does not necessarily enhance the feasibility of adult education activities confronting “marginal poverty” and “demoting poverty” in contemporary society. This framework, which includes the idea of “cooperativity in communities” as a fundamental element, was created based on the “integrated poverty” of village communities immediately after World War II, not on the “marginal poverty” or “demoting poverty” in the contemporary society.
Today we must examine the influence of this institutional framework on the actual activities of adult education, and deliberate upon the realistic role of municipal adult education with regard to the problems of “marginal poverty” and “demoting poverty.”