The history of literacy and adult education programmes helps to explain the over-optimistic ambitions and initial targets of the Kenyan and Indian adult education programmes. Even in smaller countries like Nicaragua and Sri Lanka there is huge diversity in economic circumstances and degree of poverty, and in cultural and ethnic circumstance, which dictates what kind of adult education may be possible and fruitful. The importance of community and volunteer resources shows how futile it is to try to measure and prove the cost, and relative cost-efficiency, of nonformal adult education programmes. The problem of trying to ensure minimal standards with teachers of low formal education and little teaching materials naturally pressed towards standardisation. Participation appears the first principle of adult education across the very diverse circumstances. The practice of participation from the point of view of the student relates closely to motivation.