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EDUCATION REPORT - August 29, 2002: Adult Education - 2002-08-23

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Millions of Americans take part in adult education programs. Some adults are completing high school, college or graduate school work. They attend classes designed especially for working people on weekends or at night. Other adults take classes by mail or on their computers. For example, the University of Arizona Extended University is one of many colleges now providing such courses.

Other adults learn job skills like computer science or wood-working. Still other adult students learn to read or improve their English.

Some adult students are not trying to finish their education or learn job skills. Instead, they want to explore new interests. They want to learn to speak a foreign language, play a musical instrument or take good pictures. They attend continuing education programs at a community college or public school. For example, Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, offers many classes. They teach adults how to build a house or how to write their memories.

An agency in the federal government’s Department of Education supervises public adult education programs. The Departments of Agriculture and Defense offer many subjects for adults. So do private companies, labor unions and organizations. These subjects include the arts, science and business.

Adult education classes meet in schools, public libraries and business offices. They also meet in religious centers or shopping centers. Classes in nature sciences and sports often take place outside.

Education experts say the large numbers of retired Americans are a major reason for the popularity of adult education. These people say they want to continue developing their brains.

Some programs for older adults include travel. For example, the nonprofit organization Elderhostel serves hundreds of thousands of people over age fifty-five. One Elderhostel program takes place in the famous southern American city of New Orleans, Louisiana. The program teaches older adults about the special culture of the city. Students travel there to learn about New Orleans food, music, history, art and building design.

Today, more and more American adults are proving that education is not only for young people.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.