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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Community economic development and adult education Zysman, Paul


This study examines community economic development (CED) and its educational elements. CED is a process of community residents' learning and developing appropriate responses to their collective and individual socio-economic needs. In this process, learning and development are interactive and evolve into further stages. While a guiding CED organization, resources and collaboration with public and private sectors are necessary elements of CED, the heart of CED is the direct participation, ownership and management of the CED organization and businesses by local residents. The educational significance of CED is that it can motivate people, especially low income people who are often alienated from education, to participate in CED and its education programs. What motivates poor people are: their need to satisfy their basic wants, the encouragement from fellow members of CED groups, and the empowerment that arises from a more egalitarian structuring of ownership and management of economic enterprises. Both the accomplishment of these ends and the learning experienced in the process provide satisfaction. This is likely to encourage further learning. Four CED case studies — the American, Canadian, Tanzanian and Sri Lankan — are compared according to two models of CED stage development. Analysis of these case studies indicates that community exploitation, "crises," visionary ideas and popular education spawn CED movements. To develop organizations and implement businesses, these movements then need to develop a managerial and professional expertise. While none of the four CED situations has been able to integrate effectively this expertise with their CED movements, Sri Lanka has been the most successful in this regard, and Tanzania the least. The problem has been that professionals, such as managers, educators and bureaucrats, have tended to impose their view of CED and their own interests rather than work with and support the people's views and interests. Canadian and American CED organizations, in their desire for social and governmental support, have professionalized at the expense of their movements. Thus, the people most in need of socio-economic interventions are often not the recipients. This study therefore recommends that CED movements be nurtured, while being effectively combined with a professional approach that serves the movement. This can be done through popular education (on CED philosophy and practice) and ongoing dialogue by all sectors of society; and by creating and strengthening member groups concerned with a more egalitarian structuring of their organizations and economic enterprises. This would require education practitioners and theoreticians to play a key role in helping to implement CED. Finally, research would need to be undertaken to evaluate whether CED and its education programs do motivate community residents to participate in their own educational and socio-economic development.

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