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close this bookAPPEAL - Training Materials for Continuing Education Personnel (ATLP-CE) - Volume 2: Post-Literacy Programmes (APEID - UNESCO, 1993, 112 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentFOREWORD
View the documentINTRODUCTION
View the documentChapter 1: Post-Literacy - Principles and Rationale
View the documentChapter 2: Post-Literacy as Part of Continuing Education
View the documentChapter 3: Curriculum Framework
View the documentChapter 4: Design and Development of Materials
View the documentChapter 5: Validation - A Case Study of Post-Literacy Curriculum Development
View the documentChapter 6: An Infrastructure for Post-Literacy
View the documentChapter 7: Implementation and Delivery
View the documentChapter 8: Training of Personnel for Post-Literacy
View the documentChapter 9: Evaluation and Feedback
View the documentAnnex: List of Participants
View the documentBack Cover

Chapter 3: Curriculum Framework


While many countries of the Region have developed or are developing post-literacy materials for adults, informal surveys conducted by UNESCO suggest that in many cases they have been produced without systematic planning or design. Entry levels are not always clear, target groups are not always specified and the materials do not seem to be part of a coherent and systematically structured curriculum.

Another problem is that there has been a strong dependence on reading materials alone. Post-literacy aspects of numeracy and the development of writing skills are rarely included in post-literacy programmes. While a concern to foster the reading habit must remain the core of post-literacy, the related skills of writing and numeracy should also be developed if adults are to be adequately prepared to accept the responsibility for their own continued learning throughout life.

Another difficulty has been that many of the materials themselves are poorly structured. The readings provided do not necessarily lead to action on the part of the readers. Materials for post-literacy should challenge readers to reflect on, analyze, discuss and review the inputs provided. This is a type of mental process which consolidates the reading. Readers should also be encouraged to actively respond by taking some action such as writing a letter, developing an action plan, writing a summary, preparing a report or undertaking some definite practical task. This is the output phase of the learning cycle. This implies that while post-literacy programmes should be less tightly designed than those for basic literacy, they should be based on the INPUT PROCESS-OUTPUT or IPO model advocated in the UNESCO ATLP series which has proven to be so effective in a renewed attack on the residual problems of illiteracy which remain in the Region.

With these points in mind it is suggested that an effective post-literacy programme should have the following characteristics.

1. A post-literacy programme should be systematic and based on a structured curriculum framework. The systems model which stresses inputs, processes and outputs could be the basis of the overall curriculum design.

2. The curriculum should be structured in steps with increasing levels of achievement. Each level should have defined standards so that learners can measure progress towards defined goals.

3. The previous point implies that a post-literacy programme should have a developmental orientation. Participants should be aware of their individual growth and personal development as they proceed through a sequence of learning experiences. In addition there should be a focus on individuals being empowered through the programme, to contribute not only to their personal well-being but to the well-being of the community and of the nation as a whole.

4. It follows from the previous points that any post-literacy programme should be consistent with and contribute to implementing national and regional level socio-economic policies. Programmes should also help people understand and respond to market trends. There should be an awareness that post-literacy programmes contribute to human resource development in the broadest sense of the meaning of that term.

5. In regard to specific materials within the programme attention should be given to writing and numeracy skills as well as to reading. There should be an emphasis on interaction between the learner and the materials and so the programme should be «action» oriented. That is participants should be encouraged to apply what they have learnt in their everyday lives.

6. The programme, therefore, should be highly motivational and all aspects should be interesting and informative. It should be flexible enough to cater for local as well as national needs and concerns. Not all «content» areas should be compulsory. Options should be available to cater for different interests.

7. A post-literacy programme should be designed for use by individuals and by groups. The programme should be suitable for self-learning and also for use by reading groups located in homes, libraries, reading centres, learning centres and elsewhere. There should be open and free access to the programme for all types of groups and categories of clientele.

8. Many agencies should be involved in both developing and implementing a post-literacy programme. Such agencies could include government instrumentalities and non-government organisations. An important aim would be to produce and use materials relevant to all sectors of national development and 10 most aspects of personal need.

9. While a post-literacy programme should be open to all neo-literates or others who may feel the need to enter the programme at particular levels, specific target groups should also be identified and catered for within the programme. These would include disadvantaged groups such as school drop-outs, unemployed youth, women hi rural communities and so on.

10. It follows that the programme should provide a wide range of materials within any level. There should be numerous titles catering for the needs and interests of a wide variety of potential clientele. Recreational aspects should be included as well as work-related areas and areas of general societal concern such as economic growth, development theory and so on. Consideration should be given to producing materials h1 a variety of media - wall newspapers, video programmes, comic strips and so On as well as the main core of book materials.

11. Cost factors should be kept in mind. Inexpensive materials should be produced and cost effective procedures implemented. Many aspects of the programme should be developed using low cost local resources.


In order to satisfy the criteria for an effective post-literacy programme outlined above the following approach to curriculum design is suggested.

a) System Approach. A systems approach is advocated with defined inputs, processes and outputs.

i) Input. In terms of initial INPUT it is assumed that adults will enter the programme after attaining basic literacy standards of the UNESCO ATLP literacy curriculum level III - the self-learning level, or its equivalent. (See ATLP Volume I)

ii) Process: In terms of PROCESS, the exemplar curriculum consists of a series of activities covering related areas of content. These are the vehicles for developing a series of post-literacy competencies developed in three levels. Each activity in the curriculum would also be designed on the systems model with its own input-process-output sequence.

iii) Output: The overall OUTPUT of the curriculum is the development of a whole person who should have become an autonomous learner, and ideally should have developed as an autonomous person. An autonomous adult is characterized by having:

· respect for objectivity
· ability to interpret complex patterns
· tolerance for ambiguity
· broad views
· willingness to seek complexity
· socio-economic awareness
· a sense of responsibility and interdependency

b) Curriculum Grid. This approach can be shown in a diagram which relates content categories to levels of post-literacy achievement. Such a diagram is given in figure 3.1. This is presented as an exemplar only and not as a prescription be followed by Member States. It is essentially meant as a planning tool.

Figure 3.1: An exemplar curriculum framework for a post-literacy programme.

i) Levels of Competency. The learning processes are organized in three levels of competency.

Competency Level a
Competency Level b
Competency Level c

These levels of competency should not be confused with grade levels as in formal education or within a structured programme of adult literacy such as ATLP levels 1, 2 and 3. A post-literacy programme can be thought of as an extension of the ATLP basic literacy curriculum or of following on from primary school or its equivalent and while it would not be so formally defined could be designated as ATLP Level 4.

The «levels» (shown as a, b and c) within a post-literacy curriculum represent steps in achieving those competencies necessary to lead to autonomy of learning and a willingness to continue life-long learning. They may be thought of as «indicators» of capacity to move on to the next step. They are technical in terms of reading, writing and numeracy but also involve development of more general mental competencies necessary for advanced learning. Subject matter can also be graded in terms of increased complexity.

The overall purpose of the graded steps however, is to facilitate smoothly phased development of general educational competencies.

The standards of competency are described below in Section C.

ii) The Content Categories

In the exemplar five categories of content are suggested. There are:

i) Recreational Topics/Fiction
ii) Social and Developmental Issues
iii) Civics and Values
iv) Culture
v) Work Related Knowledge and Skill

These content categories, however, are by no means prescriptive. Provided they are selected to be relevant to the needs of the target groups any relevant content area could be chosen. It is recommended, however, that at a minimum some recreational element be included, perhaps under the title of fiction, and that at least one «line» be given to work related topics. Each Member State would select content areas appropriate for its clientele.

A proportion of the content should be in terms of functional knowledge such as work related skills, economic aspects of development and so on.

Each area of content can be graded in three steps of difficulty in relation to the three levels of competency.

The content areas given in this exemplar (figure 3.1) are described below in Section D.


The following table summarises standards of achievement to be attained by the end of competency levels a, b and c of the exemplar post-literacy curriculum. Four categories of standards are provided. These are:

1. Reading skills;
2. Writing skills;
3. Numeracy skills;
4. General mental skills.

Following the table general comments are provided on each category.







Small number of known words

6 - 10 % new words

10% + new words

Maximum sentence length

8 words

8-12 words

Longer sentences

Paragraph length

80 words

100 words

120 words +

Total words



4.000 +

Number of pages



30 +



Personal or business letter

Short essay

A report

Simple story

Short story

Longer story

Personal biography

Biography of a friend

Biography of famous person

Letter to newspaper

Short article for newspaper

Longer article for newspaper

Notes for a short talk

Notes for speech

Script for speech


Three paragraphs

Five paragraph

More than five paragraphs

Simple language

More complex language

Advanced language

Simple tables and graphic presentations

More complex tables and graphic presentations

Analysis and interpretation of complex tables and graphics


Basic communication of simple ideas

Communication of more advanced ideas

Communication of complex ideas

Simple expression of original ideas

Expression of more complex original ideas

Creative/imaginative writing


Arithmetical skills

Consolidation of Level 3 of ATLP Basic Literacy Programme

Use of calculators and mathematical tables for larger numerals

Use of computer or other more complex calculating machine

Graphs, tables and geometric figures

Drawing and interpreting simple examples

Comparing and analyzing more complex examples

Formulating plan of action based on more advanced examples


1. Vocabulary Building

Good knowledge and use of vocabulary in newspapers and popular magazines

Effective use of dictionary and other word lists

Adequate use of a specific technical vocabulary

2. Building general knowledge

Read and intelligently discuss a range of items in daily newspapers

Carry-out group discussions of current affairs and social issues

Make effective use of libraries to research a topic of personal interest

3. Establishing mental schemes

Look back at past experiences and use them to build new ideas about the present

Plan a scheme to implement solutions to a problem

Build a view in the mind of a new area involving several concepts

4. Critical Reasoning

Identify critical points of an issue

Distinguish between fact and opinion

Critically respond to a set of facts and opinions

5. Problem-solving

Identify and solve simple problems relating to personal and community life

Use available resources to solve personal/social problems

Evaluate alternative solutions to complex problems

IMPORTANT NOTE: In interpreting Table 3.1 reading skills given in the first lines of the table should be regarded as preconditions for the standards specified in the other sections of the table. That is the competency levels required in writing, numeracy and general mental skill will depend upon the defined reading standards for each competency level

The following additional points should be stressed in regal-d to the standards.

- They are indicators only. In post-literacy it is more difficult to define standards in terms of clearly stated competencies. Scanning vertically down the individual columns of the complete table, gives an adequate indication of what should be achieved at each level.

- They are not prescriptive; each Member State or educational system would wish to determine its own reading, writing and numeracy standards according to circumstances and needs, and based to an extent on the characteristics of its national and local languages.

- Mental skills are critical aspects. The categories of general mental skill are those which post-literacy experts such as R.L. Venesky. C.F. Kaestle, and A.M. Sum of the Educational Testing Service in the United States believe to be essential if literacy skills are to be consolidated and individuals are to develop to be true autonomous learners willing to accept responsibility for their own continued life long learning. Individual Member States and educational systems, are therefore encouraged to retain these general categories of mental skill as listed in the first column of table 3. They may wish of course, to define the standards NO be achieved within each area of mental skill according to their own needs.


Five categories of content are proposed for the exemplar curriculum. It is stressed that content areas would be selected by each Member State according to its needs and circumstances. The categories shown in figure 3 are as follows: -

I. Recreational Topics/Fiction. This means imaginative stories and comics about dramatic episodes, romance, crime, adventure mysteries, science fiction and so 011 which people like to read for pure entertainment and pleasure. In a post-literacy programme, however, such fictional stories may also convey educational messages. Experienced post-literacy workers report that stories about real life, family romance and adventure are very popular. They can therefore be useful vehicles for conveying socially relevant messages and lead to writing and other activities.

II. Social and Developmental Issues. This means raising and discussing, social and developmental issues such as the role Of women in development, the need to involve people’s participation in decision making at various levels of Government, the need to overcome various forms of discriminations and oppressions, and emphasizing consciousness building of the people.

III. Civics and Values. By this category is mainly meant the agreed codes of behaviour on which societal well-being is based. It also includes a treatment of important political, economic and other social issues. This area provides many opportunities in the areas of writing and numeracy and in social action.

IV. Culture. Religion, literature, music, drama, art, history and language are expressions of a nation’s ethos and overall identity. They should have a major place in any programme of post-literacy since they help to develop a sense of national pride and so focus attention on the needs of society as a whole.

V. Work-Related Knowledge and Skill. As has been stressed elsewhere (Chapter 2) experience has shown that the most successful programmes of post-literacy are linked to the world of work. Best of all, programmes can be offered actually in the work-place sponsored and partially presented by the employer. This content area in fact becomes the backbone of functional knowledge for the curriculum as a whole and all other content areas can relate to it.

In each category it is assumed that there would be some materials which are mainly readers, some concerned mainly with numeracy while others would focus in developing writing skills. All would be concerned with developing the general mental skills necessary for success in post-literacy learning such as vocabulary building, critical thinking and problem-solving.


Each cell of the post-literacy curriculum framework should include materials developed at the levels defined in a standards table of the type shown in Table 3.1. An example is given below. This illustrates what perhaps could be included in Cell III. a.

Example: Cell III. a

· In areas concerned with civics and values learners should have materials to ead involving common words, short sentences (average length 8 words), with paragraphs of no more than 80 words. Books or other materials should have about 16-20 pages and be no more than 500-1,000 words in length.

· Participants should be encouraged to write personal or business letters about civic issues, write simple stories with some ethical or moral messages, write about their own lives, and prepare short articles for a local newspaper on matters of local civic concern.

· In regard to numeracy they should be given an opportunity to calculate with confidence and precision numerical problems relating to day to day civic life using up to 3 digit numbers and involving all four basic arithmetical processes addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Materials should also be available which encourage participants to draw and interpret simple graphs, tables and geometric figures.

· The materials for cell III. a should also be designed to develop those mental skills needed for effective post-literacy achievement. Newspapers and magazine articles dealing with civic affairs should be provided as a first step towards vocabulary building and to foster general knowledge. Materials should be available to encourage learners build conceptual mental schemes about moral and ethical issues. A good start might be to include materials which challenge learners to draw on their past experiences to think in a new way about the ethical and moral problems of the present. Materials should be available which foster critical reasoning, and at this level these may involve analysing some local or national civic issue to understand the basic principles involved. Materials in this cell should also foster problem solving. The curriculum standards suggest that at level I these should involve identifying and solving simple problems relating to personal and community life and for cell III. a these should relate to civic values.

The curriculum framework therefore provides broad specifications for the development of materials for each «point» or «cell» of the programme. Obviously all these types of educational outcomes cannot be achieved through the production of JUST ONE BOOK for each cell. THIS IS ANOTHER KEY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A POST-LITERACY AND A BASIC LITERACY CURRICULUM.

In POST-LITERACY each cell should contain many titles and formats of resource materials. Participants would choose from them according to need.

The materials for each cell should be varied in several ways. In the first place they should cater for local, regional and national needs. Perhaps 20 % should be for national needs 60 % for regional need and 20 % for local needs. Also a range of media could be produced for each cell. While the core of the materials would be in the form of books or booklets (perhaps 80 %) there could be other formats such as video programmes, wall newspapers, posters, audio-taped programmes, educational games and so on.

More detailed comments on the production of materials are given in Chapter 4.


The learning sequence in a post-literacy curriculum of the type proposed in figure 3.1 is more flexible than for the more carefully structured steps required for a basic literacy programme see UNESCO’s ATLP series Volume I. Participants may begin in any category: fiction, development issues, civics and values, work-related knowledge and skill or culture. There is no predetermined vertical sequence. Participants may not need to cover all the materials in any cell, in fact it is highly unlikely that they would need to cover more than a small percentage of the materials available. They would choose according to their needs and interests.

Each participant, however, should include all five categories of learning in his or her programme, but should be free to move from category to category according to personal preference. Each should check that the standards of reading, writing, numeracy and general mental skill defined for each competency level are being achieved. Work on level b materials should not begin until the participant is fully confident that the standards of level a have been attained, and he or she should not move on to level c until the standards of level b have been attained.

The curriculum is designed to be used by individuals for self-study, to be used by learning groups or to be part of a structured and time-tabled post-literacy programme led by a trained post-literacy facilitator or presenter. If given as part of a time-tabled programme then the number of contact hours required to achieve the standards of each level may need to be defined. These could be:


Competency Level a:


Competency Level b:


Competency Level c:



Since the competencies at post-literacy level A are mainly a consolidation of the competencies of ATLP level 3 (ATLP, Volume I) the number of contact hours needed for their achievement may be less for the other levels of competency. This assumption is based on the idea that the time-tabled meetings would be to provide orientation, give guidelines for individual work and check on individual progress. Each participant, however, should work more or less at his or her own pace. An important role of the facilitator would be to determine whether or not a learner is ready to proceed to the next level of the programme.


It is important to stress that the curriculum framework proposed in table 3.1 is not intended as a model to be copied by Member States. It is an exemplar only and is designed as a planning framework. The numbers of levels, the standards for each level and the number and scope of the content categories can be varied according to circumstances and need.


In developing a curriculum for a post-literacy programme the main purpose of the programme should be kept in mind. This purpose is highlighted below:


The curriculum should contain those elements which will achieve this purpose. These include technical competencies of reading, writing and calculation which give individuals full control over their learning and enable them to proceed at more advanced levels in any area of their interest or need. More basically, however the curriculum should promote those general mental skills needed for enriched teaming. These include a wide vocabulary, a build-up of general knowledge, the ability to construct conceptual schemes in the mind, the ability to reason critically and the ability to solve problems, especially those problems which touch on work and other aspects of daily living. These types of outcomes can be built-in to the curriculum an(l should be specifically expressed in the learning materials.

There is however, another class of outcomes. An effective post-literacy curriculum should be more than just the sum of its parts. It should aim to develop a whole person who is an autonomous individual in control of his or her own life and who perceives and responds to the need for life-long learning.

Reference to figure 3.1 shows that the ultimate goal of post-literacy programmes is to develop a person who has the following learning styles.

· Respect for objectivity. A willingness to suspend judgment until evidence is available and an avoidance of bias, prejudice or special pleading.

· Ability to interpret convex patterns. Skill in observing, analyzing, synthesising and evaluating the many factors involved in complex personal social and professional situations and to act rationally on the data available.

· Tolerance for ambiguity. A willingness to be tolerant of differences between individuals and groups, between apparently conflicting value systems and between contrasted views of the world.

· Broadened view. A willingness and ability to see issues in broad rather than narrow contexts. To be able to judge situations not only from a narrow provincial or local perspective but to see them in a broader community context involving a wide variety of situations needs and concerns. In particular to be sensitive and responsive to the needs and views of others.

· Willingness to seek complexity. For truly effective learning individuals should be challenged by and indeed fascinated by complexity and seek it out for study and investigation. Without this challenge individuals may seek and adopt over simplified views of the world and of their personal identity.

· Awareness of socio-economic issues. In developing countries where post-literacy programmes are in the context of rapid socio-economic change, it is important for individuals to relate their learning to the socio-economic situations of their local, regional, national and international environment. They should see learning as a tool for human resource development in the best sense of that term.

· A sense of interdependency. Responsible citizens have a concern for others and a sense of community interdependence. There should be a willingness to help others and to contribute to community well-being.

In designing and implementing a curriculum for post-literacy, therefore, these aspects of personal development should be kept in mind. There should be a general emphasis on these elements throughout the materials at all competency levels and in all categories of subject matter which are intended to foster these characteristics. This is probably the central challenge for those designing programmes in this new area.