THE INFLUENCE OF ADULT EDUCATION IN THE PRESERVATION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE
1.1 Background of the Study
Book and Vondracek (2006) highlighted several past involvements of adult education in the preservation of culture to enhance access since medieval times when monks fastidiously transcribed documents by hand. They also indicated that adult education began massively in tertiary institutions to successfully reformat thousands of rare collections and crumbling culture as effective means of preserving our societal heritage. They further noted that digitization can also be the first step in conducting advanced research on historical materials and ancient documents present a prime candidate for digitization because of their historical imports, combined with century of exposure and degradation. Digicult (2003) concluded that “adult education contributes to the conservation and preservation of heritage and scientific resources, crates new educational opportunities, can be used to encourage tourism and it provides ways of improving access by the citizen to their patrimony”. Also, in recent times, adult education has played major parts in the preservation of cultural heritage. Making high quality images available electronically can reduce wear and tear of fragile items. According to Jones (2001), we live in an increasingly digital world. Hundreds of libraries, museums and archives have recently launched projects designed to digitize their collections and place them on the web. According to Stephen Ostrow cited by Jones (2001), this trend is both “auspicious and ominous for cultural heritage institutions”. The main reasons to digitize are to enhance assess and improve preservation. By digitalizing their collections, cultural heritage institutions can make information that was previously only available to a select group of researchers accessible to all. Digital projects allow users to search collections rapidly and comprehensively from anywhere at any time (Jones 2001). One of the primary problems confronting library profession is lack of commitment by the available human resources, particularly, in the areas of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and preservation of resources on cultural heritage. The knowledge explosion brought about by the acceleration of scientific and technological progress is adding a new dimension to education, capacity building, amongst other essential human development endeavours. Librarians, irrespective of their levels in the professional hierarchy must possess the conceptual knowledge, skills and attitudes relevant to the performance of their jobs. Training refers to the manifestation of knowledge, skills and attitudes in a person which enables him to apply them in his work situation. In essence, education is to cause a permanent change in behaviour potential of the concerned individual and it is regarded as the key with which to unlock the stores of knowledge and for their use by the society. As a result of its importance for professional upliftment, libraries have often tried to inculcate some desirable professional orientations in their personnel through training. Digitization can also be the first step for conducting advanced research on historical materials. Ancient documents present a prime candidate for digitization because of their historical import, combined with centuries of exposure and degradation habits in their arrangement. However, Oketunji (2001) observed that the library schools are inadequate in meeting the challenges of modern information technologies owing to lack of financial resources to procure the necessary equipment needed for the training of students. Similarly, Singh (2004) argued that skill in information Technology (IT) can be gained only when one gets hands on training and experience in laboratories under simulated conditions or in real life situations. The graduates and past graduates turned out by library schools do not possess adequate skill and expertise to interact confidently with IT specialists, evaluate what is recommended by their and full fall their requirements. A study by Lee, Traurh, and Farwell (1995) has indicated “that inducting will demand a cadre of IT professionals with knowledge and skills in technology, business operations, management, and integration and process re-engineering activities”. This paper seeks to answer five questions. First, it looks into the forms of professional training received by librarians in Federal Universities in the Southeast Nigeria as to ascertain their ability in meeting the accessibility and preservation of our cultural heritage. Second, it ascertains various formats of cultural heritage available in our institutions and environment. Third, it examines various traditional and electronic methods used by the studied libraries in preserving these rare cultural materials. Fourth, it identifies institutions involved in digitization of these materials, and fifth, the problems confronting these institutions in their efforts to provide access and preservation of cultural materials.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Today, Africa remains the world’s poorest continent. There could be several reasons for this but one of the key ones is that education has not been relevant to the needs of the society. Substantial resources have been expended to boost education in Africa, even though such resources may not have been adequate. The basic problem is that educational structures were formulated by colonialists who had a cultural background different to that obtaining among Africans. Decades of self-rule and independence have not succeeded in empowering Africans through enabling them determine their educational framework. In part, this difficulty is a result of the continued social and economic ties between African countries and their former colonizing powers. Although Africa is politically independent, it remains technologically and economically dependent on countries that colonized it. Current educational structures are meant mainly to foster this bond, rather than reduce it. Reforms in African education were conceived and implemented within the framework of this relationship, hence they did not go far enough to develop and foster African culture.
1.3 Significance of the study
Efforts to preserve resources on cultural heritage have gained new momentum throughout the world nowadays. Protecting cultural heritage is economical, as well as historical and also a cultural process. While cultural heritage preservation has not yet become firmly rooted in the Nigerian consciousness as football is, a great number of people and organizations see cultural resources as critical to the nation’s economic development through tourism. Cultural heritage is based on the aspects of our past that we cherish, want to keep and pass on to future generations and outside world. However, the economic benefits of preservation are secondary to the intrinsic value of that heritage which is been preserved. Based on the bases above, it is therefore worthwhile to examine the essence of preserving our culture through Adult Education in our society.
1.4 Objectives of the study
1. To identify a relationship between adult education and cultural heritage.
2. To deduce whether adult education will influence the preservation of the cultural heritage of the people of Ikwerre Local Government Area in Port Harcourt.
1.5 Research questions
1. Is there a relationship between adult education and cultural heritage?
2. Can adult education influence the preservation of the cultural heritage of the people of Ikwerre Local Government Area in Port Harcourt?
1.6 Research hypotheses
Ho: There is no relationship between adult education and cultural heritage.
Hi: There is a relationship between adult education and cultural heritage.
Ho: Adult education cannot influence the preservation of the cultural heritage of the people of Ikwerre Local Government Area in Port Harcourt.
Hi: adult education can influence the preservation of the cultural heritage of the people of Ikwerre Local Government Area in Port Harcourt.
1.7 Limitations of the study
a. Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
b. Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 Scope of the study
The study focuses on the influence of adult education in the preservation of Ikwerre cultural heritage in Port Harcourt.
1.9 Definition of Terms
Adult Education: This is a practice in which adults engage in systematic and sustained self-educating activities in order to gain new forms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, or values.
Culture: This is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.
Cultural Heritage: This is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations.