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Good Practice Examples



This section presents examples of successful and well-implemented projects in the area of  Literacy and Non Formal Education for Youth and Adults.  These projects are presented in four categories:



Literacy Programs Implemented in Multiple Countries






(Regenerated Freirean Literacy Through Empowering Community Techniques)



Program Description  


The REFLECT approach was developed by ActionAid to explore possible uses of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) techniques within adult literacy programs.   The approach involves community members in the development of literacy lessons through activities related to their development needs.


How the Program Works  


Program participants construct graphics, which may include maps of households, land use, calendars of workloads, matrices to analyze local crops, credit sources, etc.  These graphics are initially constructed on the ground and then transferred to paper (using simple pictures) and are used as the basis for introducing reading and writing.  No textbooks are used in the process.   


By the end of the program, each participant will have a book containing the maps, calendars, diagrams, etc. that they have produced along with the phrases that they have written.  Each participant has created his own book which also serves as a permanent record for the community, thus providing a basis on which community development may be planned. 


Why the Program is Effective  

  • Focus on learner-generated materials, not textbooks

  • Retention of literacy skills and literate habits

  • Self realization and empowerment

  • Participation in community

  • Analysis of local issues

  • High learner retention rates

  • Emphasis on writing


  • Suitability of the approach in rural areas where regular supervision is difficult







National Literacy Campaigns






Ghana National Function Literacy Project



Program Description   


The program aims to equip Ghanaian adults (15-45 years) with literacy, numeracy and functional skills, specifically targeting women and rural poor.   Through community participation in the operation of classes, the program teaches the aforementioned skills in 15 Ghanaian languages and also offers post-literacy English instruction.


** This is a World Bank Assisted Program


How the Program Works:

  • Facilitators: Classes are operated and taught by volunteer facilitators who are nominated by their communities to teach

  • Incorporation of Development Activities: Along with literacy acquisition, students are taught life skills (how to keep drinking water clean, how to treat severe diarrhea, etc.)

  • Class Duration: Classes are held for at least 6 hours per week for 21 months, approximately 300 instructional hours

  • Instructional Approach: Participative, emphasis on active learning, respect, discussions, singing, and role playing

  • Supervision: Zone-based supervisors visit each class twice per month

  • Non-formal Support: Radio broadcasting and local newspapers are used to support literacy acquisition

  • Inputs: Classes will be supplied with learner kit, facilitator kit, supervisor kit, classroom kit, and development inputs

Why the Program is Effective  

  • Cost-effective: Unit cost per enrolled learner was $24 per cycle and $43 per cycle per successful literate graduate

  • Course Completion: Approx. 70% of enrolled completed the course

  • Income-Generating Activities: Learners contribute to community development

  • Empowerment: Learners gain self-esteem and awareness of available life choices

  • Impact on Families: Learners’ gain respect for education, impact children (Children’s school attendance, participation and grooming improves)


  • Inputs:  Difficult to produce and manage distribution of appropriate reading materials in 15 national languages

  • Assessment: Need for reliable assessment instrument to measure progress

  • Facilitation: Need for more systematic facilitator selection process and for proactive training and teaching practices, lack of facilitators for English instruction






Namibia National Literacy Program (NLPN) 



Program Description:


The National Literacy Program in Namibia (NLPN) is part of the Government’s commitment to national development and education for all.  The overall goal of the program is to promote social, cultural, political and economic development.  The program aims to provide literacy and numeracy skills to disadvantaged adults and out-of-school youth in order to enable them to contribute more effectively to national development.  The program began in 1992 with approximately 15,000 learners taught by 700 teachers.  In 1999 there were approximately 46,000 learners.


How the Program Works:


The program operates in 3 stages.  Completion of the 3 stages is equivalent to Grade 4 in the primary school system: 

  • Stage 1: Beginning stage.  Learners are introduced to their mother tongue and learn to write properly;

  • Stage 2: For those who have completed Stage 1 or who have had some prior schooling. Materials continuing to promote reading and writing introduce other knowledge and skills in functional areas such as agriculture, health, civics, etc.  Emphasis on discussion of issues

  • Stage 3: Introduction of basic English (official language of Namibia).  Emphasis on communication and reinforcement of development activities.

Why the Program is Effective

  • Accessibility: The program is accessible to a large population, especially women

  • Leadership: Political will and national leadership is clearly articulated and manifested

  • Materials: Teaching and learning materials are relevant

  • Non-formal Approaches: Use of radio, the church, community meetings, etc. to motivate learners

  • Empowerment: Learners are empowered to participate in democratic process, exercise their rights and responsibilities, and to become involved in issues important to themselves, their families and their community


  • Participation:  Need to increase enrollment of literacy learners, especially men.

  • Post-Literacy Programs:  Need to develop post-literacy programs for professional development

  • Facilitator Training:  Facilitators need training on development issues and how to teach specific subjects and contents of each stage

  • Quality: Lesson preparation and presentation needs continual improvement

  • Salaries: Delayed or irregular payment of facilitator salaries






Senegal Pilot Female Literacy Project



Program Description:   


Begun in 1996, the Pilot Female Literacy Project supports the Government of Senegal’s 10-year program to reduce the illiteracy rate of 10-39 year olds from an estimated 55 percent in 1995 to 25 percent by 2005.   Approximately 75 percent of all program participants are women.  The project aims to grant the acquisition of and ensure the sustainability of literacy skills and to strengthen the capacity of the private sector to deliver effective programs, and the capacity of the public sector to monitor, evaluate, and coordinate public investments in literacy programs.


** This is a World Bank Assisted Program


How the Program Works  

  • Language:  Classes are taught in the local language

  • Class Size: Classes are approximately 20 people

  • Duration: At least 300 hours of instruction over an 18-month period

  • Teachers: Teachers are trained in materials appropriate for adults and in adult educational approaches.  They receive regular in-service teacher support.

  • Content: Learners participate in program design and implementation

  • Non-formal Approaches: Learners participate in projects related to agriculture, health, and the environment.  Post-literacy programs include use of local newspapers in each region.

  • Evaluation and Monitoring: Conducted by the National Directorate of Literacy and Basic Education.  One supervisor per 10 classes.

  • Assessment: Achievement tests are conducted in reading, writing and arithmetic for internal monitoring

  • Cost: Unit recurrent costs of 18-month program is approximately equivalent to $37-43 (US).  Learners must contribute a minimum of $4.50 (US) to the program.

Why the Program is Effective  

  • Use of 6 national languages

  • Appropriate instructional materials have been developed and used

  • Adopts the concept of “faire faire”: outsourcing to public and private sectors

  • Involvement of community, business and industry

  • Low drop out rate

  • Has reached more than 150,000 learners


  • There is a large demand for literacy that remains unmet.








Functional Adult Literacy Program in Uganda



Program Description  


The Functional Adult Literacy Program sponsored by the Government of Uganda integrates training for livelihood skills and income-generating activities with literacy instruction.  One of the main goals of the program is to help learners establish the usefulness of literacy and knowledge by combining instruction with actual applications to a variety of activities.


How the Program Works:

  • Instructors:  The program utilizes volunteer instructors recruited from the community to teach literacy and uses professionals or sector workers in the field to address various development issues.  Instructors are selected by learners.

  • Method of Instruction: Life and learning are integrated by tying learning to real life situations and activities.  Learning takes place not only in the classroom but in the learner’s place of work, typically the home or field.   

Why the Program is Effective  

  • Accessibility: Participation in the program is high.  In 2000, the program was being implemented in 37 districts and involved 127,000 learners.

  • Empowerment:  Participants, especially women, said that the program increased their self-esteem and confidence in participating in political and economic activities.

  • Impact on Health:  Participants said that with literacy they had improved their domestic hygiene, agriculture and diet.

  • Support: The program has adequate funding and monitoring/supervision from the district and sub-county levels.


  • Salaries: Instructors do not receive payment, leading to less motivation.

  • Financial Support: Long-term funding from the government is uncertain.

  • Training: Instructors need more training and more imaginative approaches to instruction.





Indonesia Non-formal Education Project III    



Program Description  


The goal of the program is to contribute to improving the human capital of the poor by enhancing their basic education and income-generating skills.  The project has three parts:  the Basic Program (BP) would continue the provision of basic literacy to illiterates and primary school dropouts; the intensive program (IP) would implement a special strategy especially targeted to low-income beneficiaries; and the national support services component would strengthen the Directorate of Community Education (DIKMAS) in their capacity to deliver the IP. The IP components include: upgrading of private vocational courses, including scholarships; expansion of an informal apprenticeship program; training in small business management skills and technical assistance to "Kejar Usaha" (KU) income-generating groups.   


** This is a World Bank Assisted Program   


How the Program Works  


The program has multiple components:   

  • The program is offered part-time and free of charge to learners

  • A bundle of 100 books of instructional materials for basic lessons in writing, reading, and arithmetic are distributed to determined groups

  • There is an out-of-school primary education equivalency program

  • There is an out-of-school junior secondary school program

  • There is a distance learning junior secondary school program that promotes self-learning.

Why the Program is Effective:

  • It has achieved wide geographical coverage and has targeted the people most in need

  • The leveraging of institutional and community resources has deepened the impact

  • The program can be sustained over long periods

  • The program provides a second chance for young adults who have dropped out of primary schools

  • The program is operated at costs well below those of primary schooling

  • Learners have no apparent relapse in to illiteracy

  • There are significant positive “externality” effects






Comprehensive Literacy and Socio-Economic Program (CLASP) 

Calumpit, Bulacan, Philippines



Program Description:


The program is a 5 year program implemented through a network of institutions, both government and NGOs.  The initial 2 years of the program aimed to reach 2,570 individuals, specifically persons with disabilities, women, and out-of-school youth.  The program had the following main components:

  • Institutional Strengthening, Research Development and Planning

  • Integrated Literacy, Industrial Skills and Livelihood Training

  • Post-training Support Services (basic business management seminars, leadership training, etc.)

  • Monitoring and Evaluation

How the Program Works  

  • Training for out-of-school youth includes welding, general automotive, simple engine repair and basic computer education

  • The program integrates the acquisition of literacy skills with industrial training and livelihood training

Why the Program is Effective  

  • The target populations for the initial 2 years have been reached and trained.

  • The majority of learners went on to self-employment, employment by industrial firms or implemented income generating projects

  • Offers a pioneer non-formal alternative learning system to formal schooling

  • the design and elaboration of the program has been a collaborative process over many years

  • The program has received official recognition and political commitment at the highest national level

  • The program places specific emphasis on the poorest and most hard-to-reach communities under-served by public services

  • The program utilizes a Learning Support Delivery System including individual learning plans, self-paced study options, study circles, one-on-one tutorials, counseling, use of non-print instructional materials, self-assessment activities, and pre and post test assessments

  • The program uses an evaluation and monitoring system which includes the initial assessment phase, the creation of well defined indicators for functional literacy, the overview of test registration and administration and the processing and documentation of test results








Brazil - UNESCO - Alfabetização Solidária Project


Documents in English and Portuguese 




UNESCO-Brazil, representing the UNESCO headquarters, has established a partnership with this Project, which is now on phase VI. This phase includes a pilot project for the two largest urban centers of Brazil: Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. 


The goal is to train and qualify 40,000 teachers, 800,000 students in 866 Brazilian municipalities and make partnerships with 55 private companies and 180 universities. The project's main goal is to eradicate illiteracy among the population between 15 and 19 years of age, giving priority to the municipalities with the highest illiteracy rates and to the most populated centers of Brazil, by the means of a partnership between the public and the private sector. 

The project seeks to: 

  • Develop and consolidate the consciousness of citizenship, by recovering and integrating the great o part of the populations who have been socially excluded.
  • Foster partnerships with universities and municipalities during the project's evaluation process 
  • Plan, supervise and disseminate the activities of the implemented project together with the universities, municipalities and private companies 
  • Co-associate and integrate as much as possible the initiatives and actions so the participants can be included and continue their studies in the adult basic education system ("supletivo" ).






Thailand Non-Formal Education Program

Program Description  


The Non-Formal Education Department of Thailand, part of the Thai Ministry of Education, is responsible for mobilizing efforts of both governmental and non-governmental agencies in serving the educational needs of the out-of-school population. It offers courses to tackle illiteracy and vocational training needs.  


The program has 3 main components:    

  • Provision of basic knowledge for subsistence

  • Continuous supply of relevant knowledge and information

  • Opportunities to acquire necessary life and vocational skills

How the Program Works:

  • The program employs an individual approach, group approach and community approach

  • It is operated in a classroom mode, semi-classroom mode and informal mode

  • The program utilizes the resources that are available such as existing schools and experienced personnel.

  • The program is mobile.  Mobile skills training units enable distant targets to keep in touch with the skills training service

Why the Program is Effective  

  • The program employs the Khipten philosophy which emphasizes man-centered development

  • The program utilizes Thaicom Distance Education Center.  With the satellite Thaicom, the program can reach all of the country

  • The Government has taken an active and participatory role in socio-economic development

  • The program has been successful in increasing literacy in Thailand on a mass scale

  • It has had success in promoting non-formal education at the grass-roots level






Basic Skills Agency’s Family Literacy Initiative (Great Britain)   



Project Description  


This program was designed to target both children (aged 3 to 6) and their parents. It is based on the belief that when parents have literacy difficulties, their children will also struggle with reading and writing.  The program strives to achieve partnerships with organizations involved in similar work and local funding and commitment.  It targets parents with weak literacy skills. 


How the Program Works:

  • Tutors and school teachers receive training on literacy instruction

  • Three sessions per week are offered:

  • parents-only-sessions, 6 hours in duration, at which parents acquire literacy and numeracy skills and learn how to help their children

  • child-only-sessions, 6 hours in duration, at which the child learns language and

  • Joint parent-child sessions, 2 hours in duration, at which shared literacy and language activities are conducted

Why the Program is Effective:

  • The program carefully selects teachers who provide good teaching methods

  • Intergenerational nature of the courses

  • Parents with limited literacy skills learned to read and write

  • Parents learned to assist in their child’s learning

  • Parents became more involved in their child’s school

  • Parents increased their self-esteem and gained confidence, leading to increased employment rates


  • Parents may set expectation for themselves and their children too high

  • Frustration among parents when immediate results are not seen

  • Age range of the children entering the program coincided with the age for nursery or primary school.  Thus, some parents removed their children from school.

  • Members of ethnic and linguistic minorities not participating in program





Bangladesh Nijera Shiki Program  



Program Description  


Nijera Shikhi, a people's movement in Bangladesh, means, "Let's teach ourselves". The movement aims to eradicate illiteracy by combining innovative self-education methods with voluntary assistance.   


How the Program Works  

  • Ownership:  The program is owned by local organizers and learners through the process of volunteering.

  • Learning Methods: Learners are exposed to writing skills in initial stage with use of familiar objects from every day life.  Learners learn to read after initial writing skills are acquired

  • Post-literacy: For 6 months after literacy is acquired, students take turns reading to groups of other program participants.  A mini library, compiled of books purchased or donated, are distributed and exchanged. 

Why the Program is Effective

  • Participants sustain functional literacy skills

  • Due to volunteerism, the cost of the program is low

  • The program has reached out to females

  • There is a strong will by the people to eradicate illiteracy in a country where illiteracy rate is high

  • The program has flexible class hours


  • Long Term Effect: The sustainability and effectiveness after 4-5 years or more is unknown

  • Sample Size:  The effectiveness of the program was based on interviews with 46 learners

  • Leadership: Sustainability and further development of the program depends on strong future leadership





India National Literacy Mission    



Program Description  


The goal of India’s National Literacy Mission is to attain full literacy by 2005.  The missions seeks to obtain this goal by imparting functional literacy to non-literates in the 15-35 years age group.  The literacy campaign offers non-literates a second chance in case they missed the opportunity or were denied access to formal education.  Special attention is placed on bringing literacy to disadvantaged groups like women and scheduled castes and tribes.  The Mission includes as Total Literacy Campaign, a Post Literacy Program, and a Continuing Education Program.   


How the Program Works:


The program is implemented in stages:   

  • The first stage is a process of consultation and consensus about the literacy needs of the country

  • The next stage is the development of the organizational structure of the program

  • The third stage is a survey of the illiterate populations and the development of a profile on each district

  • The fourth stage is the mobilization of communities by sensitizing educated sections of the community about the effects of illiteracy and recruiting them as volunteers, and the mobilization of illiterates to participate in the program

  • The fifth stage is the development of teaching and learning materials

  • The sixth stage is monitoring and evaluation of the program outcomes, not solely enrollment rates

The learning process is conducted as follows: 

  • Materials:  Students work with three progressive sets of primers.  Each primer is integrated, meaning that it combines workbook, exercise book, tools of evaluation of learning, certification, etc.

  • Method: The process is based on the principle of self-evaluation.  Every learner may attain his/her desired level.

  • Duration: Learners should be able to complete the three primers within 200 hours spread over six to eight months.

Why the Program is Effective

  • During the last 10 years of the mission, 574 out of 597 districts in India have been covered by the literacy campaigns

  • 272 districts have entered the post-literacy phase

  • 112 districts have entered the continuing education phase

  • The Mission received international recognition with UNESCO’s Noma Literacy Prize in 1999

  • The implementation of the program in stages is effective

  • The program mobilizes the community

  • Participation in the community has led to increased school enrollments

  • The program creates social awareness about the importance of education and literacy


  • Community involvement is not always consistent

  • Some districts have more resources than others








"Literacy Second" Projects






Functional Adult Literacy Program of Rukungiri, Uganda    



Program Description:   


The FAL program in Rukugiri is an example of literacy second.  Women’s groups, engaged in various income generating activities, realized that they could make further economic gains if they learned to calculate, record their incomes and output, and read their records.  The women consequently requested literacy programs.


How the Program Works  


The women selected volunteers among themselves to act as instructors and through assistance from the Community Development Office, the instructors were trained and learning materials were acquired.  Classes included not only literacy training but also functional components, such as instruction on modern agriculture.  The women were also encouraged to read the local newspaper.   


Why the Program Is Effective:

  • Since the women were already part of established groups, it was easier for them to start literacy classes

  • Learners had high enthusiasm for literacy acquisition

  • Learners were able to pay for instructional materials, thus keeping costs low

  • Literacy was combined with functional knowledge and livelihood skills

  • Women continued literacy training after the class


  • Government financial contributions to the program were not consistent





Non-Formal Education Projects





BRAC NFE Program 

(Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) 



Program Description:


The BRAC NFE program aims to provide basic literacy and numeracy skills to the poorest rural children (8 to 10 year olds) that are not reached by the formal system.  This population especially includes girls.


How the Program Works:

  • Class Size: Class size consists of 30 children who live within approximately a 2 kilometer radius of the school
  • Teachers: The class is facilitated by teachers, many of whom are women, who live close to the school.  These teachers have had at least nine years of education.  The teach on a temporary, part-time basis and are paid modest wages.  There is one teacher per 30 students.
  • Teacher Training:  There are 15 days of initial teacher training and one refresher session each month.  BRAC field workers make weekly visits in order to provide regular feedback.  Teachers are provided with teaching and learning materials. 
  • Cost:  Since most parents are illiterate and poor, no financial contribution is expected in order to attend monthly parent meetings and to send children to school each day
  • Time Frame:  The program is presented in 3 year cycles, 3 hours per day, 6 days a week.  The time of day of classes is selected by the parents
  • Instructional Method:  The instructional approach is student-centered and activity based.  Instruction is conducted initially in the local language and then in English.  In addition to literacy, the curriculum includes the social sciences and mathematics

Why the Program is Effective:

  • More than 90% of the children graduate
  • A large proportion of students are subsequently admitted to the Government school system
  • The program is more cost efficient per graduate than the Government's formal schools and there are higher attendance rates, lower repetition rates, higher completion rates and continuation rates
  • The program encourages the participation of families, communities and nongovernmental organizations
  • The program is field-oriented in regard to midlevel managers and program organizers and technical and support services
  • Regular meetings are held to solicit opinions about the program and the program is adapted to take opinions in to account  
  • The program allocates 30% of its resources to management and supervision, 29% to teacher salaries and 6% to school facilities


  • Since the success of BRAC schools is due largely to their flexibility and design to deal with targeted groups of students, extending the program to the larger population is difficult 
  • Some of the specific contextual characteristics in Bangladesh that shaped the BRAC design, such as high rural population density and high levels of rural, educated people who are under- or unemployed, are not commonly found in other developing countries.








Bangladesh Non-formal Education Project (1996)



Project Description:


The Non-formal Education Project assists the Government of Bangladesh to achieve "Education for All" (EFA) by improving and expanding non-formal education (NFE) opportunities in order to reach illiterate young adults, particularly females. 


How the Program Works:


The project aims to strengthen NFE by:

  • assisting in the institutionalization of the Integrated Non-formal Education Program into a Directorate of NFE staffed by qualified personnel able to function in related tasks such as planning, training, monitoring, and evaluation
  • Expanding and improving NFE programs to reach an estimated 2.5 million learners of the targeted age group through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the local district administration. The project is part of the government's overall NFE development program supported by different external agencies.






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