Adult Education in Canada

The adult educator may call himself or herself an agricultural extension agent, a health worker, a community organizer, a literacy teacher or any number of titles. It is not the title but the purpose of assisting women and men to realize themselves through the acquisition of skills and knowledge which identifies the authentic adult educator.

— J. Roby Kidd (1915-1982: Scholar, Organizer, Adult Educator)


Adult education in Canada is both a field of practice and (since the 1960s) a field of study. According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as a field of practice, adult education denotes the entire body of organized educational processes, whatever the content, level or method, whether formal or informal, and whether the processes prolong or replace initial education in schools, colleges, universities or apprenticeship systems. The term "adult" usually means someone beyond the legal school-leaving age. Other than that, there is no upper age limit for learning. The term “lifelong learning” is also used to refer to adult education” (Draper & English, 2016).

The Department of Adult Education, the Department emerged out of a long standing focus on adult education and community development at StFX and in the region as a whole. The Antigonish Movement, a program of community self-reliance, began on the StFX university campus. Today the StFX Extension Department carries out the earlier work within a broader mission in Northeast Nova Scotia, while the Coady International Institute extends the principles of adult education to community development leaders from countries all over the globe.

        For more about the history and applications of adult education today: