Cover Image
close this bookAPPEAL - Training Materials for Continuing Education Personnel (ATLP-CE) - Volume 1: Continuing Education: New Policies and Directions (APEID - UNESCO, 1993, 115 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentChapter 1: The Context of Continuing Education
View the documentChapter 2: The Relationship Between Formal Education and Continuing Education
View the documentChapter 3: The Present Status of Continuing Education
View the documentChapter 4: ATLP-CE: Its Origin, Scope and Development
View the documentChapter 5: An Infrastructure for Continuing Education with Special Reference to Learning Centres
View the documentChapter 6: Strategies for Implementing Continuing Education Programmes - Administrative Aspects
View the documentChapter 7: Clientele, Delivery Systems and Learning Resources for Continuing Education
View the documentChapter 8: Guidelines for Setting Up or Strengthening Continuing Education Programmes
View the documentChapter 9: A Training Curriculum for Continuing Education Personnel
View the documentAnnex: List of Participants

Chapter 3: The Present Status of Continuing Education

A. Introduction

The aim of ATLP-CE is to assist Member States to develop or strengthen their systems of continuing education. At present the levels of development and the approaches taken from country to country are highly varied. Overall there appears to be three main areas of concern: (i) the need to strengthen continuing education as an agency for life-long learning beyond the level of primary education or its equivalent; (ii) the need to relate continuing education to socioeconomic development through the promotion of human resource development, and (iii) the need to develop a systematic approach to the management and delivery of continuing education while retaining its necessary diversity, flexibility and local control.

This chapter briefly reviews the present status and management of continuing education in ten selected countries.

B. Continuing Education in Ten Selected Countries

The ten countries selected for review are mainly from Asia and the Pacific but some from other Regions (Europe and Africa) have been included for comparison. The countries are at various stages of socio-economic development. Some (e.g. Australia, U.K.) are developed nations; others are at intermediate but rapidly improving stages of development (e.g. Philippines and Thailand and others are underdeveloped (e.g. Mali). The levels of development and the approaches taken in continuing education from country to country have certain elements of similarity but the situation is actually quite varied, and is strongly related to the stage of development of each country and to the pattern of its general educational system.

The outlines provided below are based on the following sources:

i) Reference documents for the UNESCO PROAP Planning Meeting for Literacy Personnel Training Activities of 1990, Hua Hin, Thailand, 16-33 April 1990.

ii) Country papers presented at the above meeting.

iii) The publication «Continuing Education in Asia and the Pacific» Bulletin of the UNESCO Principal Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific No. 28 September 1987.

iv) The publication «Adult Education in Thailand» in Adult Education and Development No. 33 September 1989 published by the German Adult Education Association for the World Conference on Education for All.

v) Country reports given at recent UNESCO workshops and meetings on post-literacy and continuing education in Asia and the Pacific and elsewhere.


Continuing education, while well established, is not nationally co-ordinated and there are independent and varied initiatives by the various states and territories. Throughout the country, however, much of noncredit adult education has been conducted by higher education institutions such as universities, colleges, teacher education institutions and technical and further education colleges, and also by local community centres.

In most states there are Boards of Adult Education, or Departments of Community Services or their equivalent which promote a wide range of learning activities for adults. In addition to the programmes offered by tertiary institutions these Boards promote activities through a network of adult education evening colleges. Most frequently these colleges utilize the resources of a local primary school after school hours.

Many other agencies are involved in continuing education and while they usually have established co-ordination links with the relevant State Board, that is by no means always the case. These agencies include community learning centres, artistic and cultural bodies, sporting groups, social clubs, museums, art galleries, craft societies, libraries, zoos and botanical gardens, local history groups, local government agencies, national parks and wildlife centres and many agencies within the business and commercial community.

It would seem, however, that most State Governments have yet to recognize that in value-for-money terms, adult and continuing education represent the best available value. Further, community education has become a major vehicle for women to grow and develop and explore new personal directions within a responsive environment and governments need to further strengthen that aspect.

In Australia, at least until now (1993), continuing education has beep equated with adult education and the relationships between formal, non-formal and informal education in lifelong learning have not been fully appreciated. There has also been a failure at the national level to appreciate the human resource development aspects of continuing education. While Australia is now, in many respects, a learning society, the focus of learning is not on the socio-economic needs of the nation as a whole.


A statement entitled «Adult and Continuing Education» was included hi the National Policy on Education in 1986. This advocated: (i) establishment of learning centres in rural areas for continuing education; (ii) worker’s education; (iii) programmes of distance education based on a self-learning approach; (iv) need and interest based vocational training; and (v) programmes to promote the wider use of books libraries and reading centres.

Libraries and reading rooms of formal educational institutions are open to the public in the evenings and necessary financial support is available for this function. Voluntary efforts to establish reading rooms and libraries are encouraged.

Since 1988 a major government initiative has been to establish Jana Shikshan Nilayams (Centres for Continuing Education) (JSNs) throughout the country as the core of an infrastructure for continuing education. These are learning centres which bring together programmes originally organized as part of farmer’s twining programmes, youth clubs, the mobile and village library system and rural reading rooms.

Even more recently (post 1992) under a new strategy for Teaching Learning Centres, the JSNs are only one form of centre providing post-literacy and other types of continuing education. More recently established centres are volunteer-based and as in the first phase of the campaign for basic literacy have multiple objectives. These involve remediation, upgrading of competencies, and retention and application of basic literacy skills.


In Indonesia the formal educational system is more closely integrated into continuing education and out-of-school programmes provide equivalency courses by alternative means for both primary education (Paket A) and junior secondary education (Paket B). It is also proposed to develop an alternative equivalent for Senior High School (Paket C).

Indonesia therefore defines continuing education very broadly and consistently with the definition promoted under ATLP-CE. Continuing Education is defined as «educational programmes after basic education has been attained» i.e. in-school education at junior high, senior high and university levels; out of school alternatives (Pakets A, B and C); skill-formation programmes such as income generating groups, apprenticeships; upgrading courses and family education programmes at home.

An important aspect for Indonesia is that the relationship between continuing education and lifelong learning is appreciated and the central aim is to promote the development of a learning society. A weakness before 1987 was that while many agencies, mainly government departments, were effective providers, there was no National Co-ordinating Commission for Continuing Education and policies were not fully co-ordinated. But after 1987, when the APPEAL Indonesia was created, national co-ordination of efforts has been achieved.

Agencies involved in continuing education in Indonesia and the types of programmes offered are listed below:



Ministry of Education and Culture (MOE) in Cooperation with other Ministries

Income Generating Learning Groups

MOE with the Ministry of Manpower

Vocational courses
Apprenticeship training

MOE alone

Pakets A, B and C

Indonesian Scout Movement

Scout leaders training

Ministry of Agriculture

Farmers learning groups
Learning groups on Peoples Plantations

Family Life Welfare Movement

Family Life Education Courses

Family Planning Coordination Board

Family Planning Groups

National Sports Committee

Sports training
Training Sports Club Leaders

Office of the Minister of Role of Women

Income-generating groups for women

Ministry of Information

TV and radio learning group broadcasts


In Japan continuing education is well established and is defined as the mechanism for developing a learning society. Constantly with ATLP-CE continuing education is perceived as proceeding after basic education has been attained, that is it is for literate adults (including youth).

Because of the strength and success of formal education in Japan there is little need for basic literacy programmes or catch-up equivalency programmes through a non formal system. What is emphasised is vocational education; cultural activities, especially for women and the aged; and physical recreation. These types of programmes are popular with people of all ages.

The library and museum movements in Japan are especially well developed and libraries and museums are important agencies for continuing education. The total number of public libraries in Japan in 1983 was 1, 644 with a staff of 13,145 trained personnel. There were 676 public museums staffed by 10,368 appropriately trained personnel.

The Japanese government directly provides the following types of activities outside the formal education system: social correspondence education; specialized training schools; skill examinations; vocational training; university extension courses; university of the air; educational broadcasting and information services and projects. Private enterprise, especially the manufacturing and business communities, are also heavily involved in continuing education through the provision of in-house training and by working with the general public.

(e) MALI

In 1967 a nation-wide functional literacy programme was launched in the framework of the «Experimental World Literacy Programme». This programme consisted of three cycles (i) literacy; (ii) post-literacy and (iii) lifelong education. The programme continues and views education as a key mechanism of social and economic development. Continuing Education is seen to be for adults outside of formal education.

The activities under the programme are initiated by several types of agencies and many, especially in the post-literacy area, arise spontaneously or are initiated by local authorities. The programmes are relatively unstructured and uncoordinated. The main thrust is the production of reading and extension materials, but these are produced by a wide variety of organizations, both government and non-government. Most focus on specific projects such as groundnuts and food cultivation; rice growing in specific regions; high valley projects; livestock keeping; fishing and cooperative movements. Specific materials are also produced by the national offices of Cooperation, Health, and Waterways and Forests.

Another important facet of continuing education is the Rural Press. A newspaper «Kibaru» was founded in 1972 with the aim of promoting reading, and of preventing literacy regression and of developing skill development. It’s Editorial Board is representative of various agencies such as the Ministry of Information, The Press and Publications Agency; Functional Literacy Department; Institute of Rural Affairs; Health Education; Office of Waterways and Forests and the National Directorate of Cooperation.

Educational broadcasts are also promoted and focus on aspects of rural development. Activities are coordinated by the Educational Radio Service and call on the services of all agricultural development organisations.

There is also a special government programme to provide more advanced education for neoliterates. Training courses are provided for newly literate peasants to help them understand and apply new scientific knowledge and technological innovations relevant to their lives.


Continuing education is defined as the provision of opportunities for lifelong learning beyond basic literacy and primary education, including formal education beyond these levels. Nevertheless those aspects of continuing education outside the formal education system are administered by a separate Bureau of Non-Formal (Continuing) Education within the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.

The link between education and development is appreciated in the Philippines and the government has promoted education to raise the general standard of living, to provide opportunity for youth and adults to acquire marketable skills and to improve the general quality of life.

Currently (1990) the Government is encouraging closer co-operation and complementarity between non formal and formal education and there is a good working relationship among the many agencies involved in formal and non formal programmes. Non-government agencies are also active in continuing education and most cooperate with relevant government agencies.

The main government agency is the Bureau of Non-formal Education which provides (i) a range of programmes for out-of-school youth (ii) post-literacy work for adults (iii) training in livelihood skills (iv) self-help and self-reliance programmes and (v) education in values.

Training of continuing education personnel is seen to be an important aspect. In 1986 the Bureau of Non-Formal Education initiated a National Training Programme for multidisciplinary educational personnel in the rural areas to facilitate the planning, implementation and evaluation of continuing education activities in the context of rural development.


Continuing education is the responsibility of the Adult Education Directorate of the Ministry of National Education. There is a well organized infrastructure consisting of (i) regional adult education co-ordinators (ii) district adult education co-ordinators (iii) divisional education officers and (iv) ward officers. At each level there is an Adult Education Committee and membership is representative of relevant agencies such as Ministries of Health, Labour and Social Welfare and the Prime Ministers Office. A co-ordination system links all levels to ensure maximum participation and to reduce redundancy. The system is seen to lie outside of the formal education network and caters for literate adults beyond primary school grade. The main thrust is the establishment of simple village libraries or reading centres (in about 8,000 villages by the mid 1970s). These provide various types of books and other reading materials in a graded post-literacy series. They build on the skills of adults who have attained literacy through their participation in national functional literacy programmes. The centres are also supported by a library service which provides mobile book boxes on a rotation basis.

The training of personnel for continuing education is seen to be especially important. Two-week orientation courses on library techniques and one-week refresher courses are provided each year for district, ward and village leaders and librarians in charge of the reading centres.


Continuing education is seen to be the mechanism for lifelong learning and to cater for all those literate youths and adults beyond the level of primary schooling. The term «non-formal» however, is used not just for catch up equivalency programmes but for all forms of adult education outside of the formal system. Continuing education is administered by the Ministry of Education Department of Non-Formal Education (NFE) which was created in 1979 by merging the previous Divisions of Adult Education, the Centre for Educational Museums and the Centre for Educational Technology. Its responsibilities, apart from basic adult literacy, include (i) compensatory education for the disadvantaged (ii) short courses in skills training (iii) reading promotion (iv) educational museums and (v) education through the mass media.

The NFE Department also has a co-ordinating role promoting links with other relevant agencies and is also responsible for research, planning and development in continuing education. It has a major role in training continuing education personnel for all levels and programmes of the system. It also facilitates the work of other continuing education agencies through the provision of subsidies and general services.

There is a well developed infrastructure under the Department of NFE. Under the central office in Bangkok there are four regional R & D Centres and in each province there is a central Lifelong Education Centre providing a variety of programmes in post-literacy, income generation, educational equivalency and quality of life improvement. At the local level there is a network of village learning centres, encouraged and supported by Provincial Lifelong Education Centres. The village centres are managed by the villagers themselves and have reading centres, basic educational facilitates, resources for social activities and community meeting halls.

Equivalency programmes comparable to formal school grades 6, 9 and 12 are offered by NFE in three alternative modes (i) classroom situations (ii) radio correspondence and (iii) self instruction. An information service is provided through (i) a network of public libraries (ii) village reading centres (iii) radio and TV programmes for schools and adult classes and (iv) museum education. The NFE Department also produces educational films and other audio-visual resources. In the area of skills training, attention focuses mainly on industry, home economics, business and agriculture and is provided by three types of activities: (i) vocational classes in day schools; (ii) mobile vocational classes in rural areas and (iii) interest groups, mainly in rural areas.


The United Kingdom is essentially a learning society but as in Australia this situation has evolved unsystematically over many decades (indeed in U.K. over many centuries). It is therefore uncoordinated and highly decentralised. There is an almost infinite range of opportunity for adult learning in almost any area of knowledge provided by a multiplicity of both government and non-government agencies. Because of this complexity these notes focus on only one aspect i.e. the newly emerging post-literacy programmes.

The need for post-literacy programmes arose as it became clear that the population included an unacceptably large number of semiliterate adults. Programmes to raise literacy levels emerged in the 1980s as a result of informed dialogue between local organizers and adult educators on the one hand, and consultant advisers of central agencies on the other.

Agencies responsible for promoting post-literacy activities are the Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Unit (ALBSU), the National Institute of Adult Education in England and Wales (NIAE), and the Scottish Adult Basic Education Unit (SCABU). The infrastructure is very loose and unstructured with an emphasis on local effort. At central level there is a Government National Advisory Council for Adult and Continuing Education (ACACE) which has links with the National Institute of Adult Education. There is little central ministerial control of curriculum or methodology. Other agencies cooperate in the work of the ACACE including the Manpower Services Commission, the Open University and the British Broadcasting Cooperation. Training of CE personnel is provided centrally by the ACACE and centrally trained trainers and activists train others at district and local level. Further training opportunities for adult workers are provided under a training opportunities scheme sponsored by the Manpower Service Commission.

An important outlet for post-literacy work is provided by the nationwide library service which has an extension service of motorised traveling libraries for remote villages. Librarians work closely with adult educators and have links with the broadcast media, especially radio. Library personnel working with adult educators also conduct door-to-door contact campaigns.


Up until 1990 the Government had given high priority to the eradication of illiteracy because of conviction that ability to read and write awakens consciousness and stimulates participation in political action. Eradication of illiteracy therefore, was seen as the first step in the process of raising cultural standards. The Government, however, is now ready to develop a system of continuing education. As a beginning a good start has been made on programmes of complementary education offered to literate adults. These provide essential knowledge and skill for all types of workers with the aims of increasing productivity and of enabling the workforce to utilize modern techniques and equipment.

Another aspect of continuing education in Vietnam is the provision of «specific topic» non-formal education for farmers. Topics include rice growing, hog-breeding, birth control, improving cooking facilites and similar functional topics. About thirty topics are covered each year and each topic involves one to three sessions of 1 1/2 - 2 hours duration. Continuing education schools and classes are also provided for ethnic minorities in language and as part of the complementary education system (second level equivalency).

C. Trends and Issues

The following general trends and issues emerge firm the country situations outlined above.

a) Most Member States in the sample view continuing education as the provision of opportunity for lifelong learning beyond basic literacy and primary education.

b) There are some differences in regard to defining the scope of continuing education. Most see it as including formal, non formal and informal education but a minority view it as something outside of and beyond formal education.

c) The role of continuing education as a mechanism for socio-economic development is appreciated by most. Continuing education as human resource development (HRD) and the relationship between HRD and socio-economic development, however, is not usually stated clearly. This is reflected in the absence of strong linkages between national socio-economic planning and continuing education policy.

d) Objectives of continuing education are usually expressed or implied as improvement in quality of life and living standards of all citizens.

e) There is a wide range of target clientele for continuing education but in most countries the emphasis is on rural communities, disadvantaged groups, neoliterates and semiliterates and those needing training in vocational and income-generating skills. The types of activities frequently include the following:

i) Vocational/technical courses, apprenticeship programmes.

ii) Income-generating activities

iii) Extension and equivalency education

iv) Arts and culture

v) Specific learning programmes such as farmer education, population/family life education, health and nutrition programmes, and so on

vi) Rural libraries and reading centres promoting post-literacy skills

vii) Self-reliance programmes.

f) Linkages and networking are strong in some countries and relatively weak in others. On the whole infrastructure is partial only in that, where present at all, it mainly caters for and co-ordinates government initiatives alone. In most cases (there are exceptions) the infrastructure does not adequately involve non-government providers.

g) Several countries lack National Policy Boards or Co-ordination Agencies. In some, even government initiatives in CE are uncoordinated and are the responsibility of a variety of ministries and departments which pursue more or less independent programmes. It would seem that some instrumentalities (e.g. Health, Agriculture) whose primary function is outside education, do not perceive themselves as educational agencies and therefore tend to stand aside from educational networks.

h) Only few countries have recognized that lifelong learning is the initiative of each individual and that individuals determine their learning objectives throughout life and need access to all forms of formal, non-formal and informal educational opportunities to achieve these objectives. Almost all reports on which the above country summaries were based were government and provider centred, not learner centred. This is why in most countries the formal educational system is seen to be something apart and not just one component of continuing education.

i) While several countries (e.g. India, Tanzania, Thailand, United Kingdom) have appreciated the need for clearly defined contact or entry points for individuals to engage in the system, some have not. The role of local learning centres in this regard has been highlighted in some countries but not in others.

j) The training of a cadre of professional continuing educators to encourage and help all types of providers and to administer a systematic delivery system is appreciated by most countries in the sample. Some countries, however, have still to address this issue.

k) there are varying attitudes to decentralization and local management and control. In some countries CE is seen clearly to be a «grass roots» matter under the control of local people. In others it is seen mainly as an instrument of government and is controlled and administered centrally.

l) The relationship between literacy and continuing education is clearly perceived by all Member States. Countries which in the past, have had to focus mainly on the eradication of illiteracy, are now able to change their priorities and to begin and/or strengthen continuing education to consolidate and build on literacy achievements.

m) Almost all countries see the promotion of the reading habit and the provision of appropriate reading materials as a central responsibility for continuing education. Mechanisms for achieving this (e.g. libraries, reading centres, book-mobiles, post-literacy workshop and so on) vary from country to country.

D. Conclusion

Fundamentally, there appears to be an underlying weakness common to almost all systems of continuing education reviewed in this chapter. It is essentially that CE policies are not adequately integrated with national development policy and as a result few governments seem to quite know what CE is for; how it should be administered and what should be its outcomes and contributions to personal and national well-being. This problem in turn causes other problems. The most serious of these is that in even the most efficient and well organized approaches there is at best only a partial infrastructure for organizing, administering, promoting and evaluating continuing education as a system. ATLP-CE offers an exemplar of a systematic approach to the organization of CE hopefully without inhibiting its necessary diversity and creative individuality. This approach is described and briefly discussed in Chapters 4 and 5.