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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 5: An Infrastructure for Continuing Education with Special Reference to Learning Centres


A. General Background

The status and level of development of Continuing Education systems in Member States of Asia and the Pacific is uneven (chapter 3). In particular, infrastructures for continuing education vary a great deal from country to country. In some, continuing education occurs without any co-ordinating body or authority and programmes are presented by any agencies which may wish to be involved on a purely ad hoc basis. In other countries CE is the main responsibility of the Ministry of Education but many other ministries and agencies may also offer programmes (e.g. health, agriculture. employment and industry) and these may not be coordinated. In almost all countries many non-government agencies are involved but they frequently work on their own and there are no links with government.

In the cases where the Ministry of Education is responsible or mainly responsible for government initiatives in CUE the precise agencies or departments within the ministry vary from system to system. In some countries the formal education subsector at primary, secondary and university level is given the responsibility for Continuing education as an extension of its normal work. School teachers give CE courses after school hours and schools become afternoon and evening community schools and colleges. In others. special departments of non-formal and/or adult education and/or continuing education accept responsibility. Sometimes their programmes and delivery systems are broad and varied and sometimes narrower and more limited in range and scope.

Some Member States have clear-cut national policies for continuing education, others have not. Some have organizational networks in place at all levels, others have none. Some have set up efficient management and training systems for CE and others have only partial systems.

Very few countries in the Region have perceived CE both as (i) a viable alternative to formal education and (ii) an agency for human resource development after the completion of formal education and so as the energizer of socio-economic development. Most therefore, tend to down-grade the relative significance of CE vis-a-vis formal education. Resources for the development of an infrastructure for CE represent only a small fraction (less than one per cent) of the resources provided for formal schooling, and yet continuing education provides an opportunity for life-long learning whereas formal education caters, at most, for only about one third of the life span.

This chapter attempts to describe a broad infrastructure for CE as an exemplar. Each Member State would need to interpret this relative to its own circumstances and concerns, but hopefully it may provide a broad framework for establishing or strengthening CE systems.

B. Overall Coordination

In each country there should be a National Coordination Committee or National Council for Continuing Education (NCCCE). While this should perhaps be administered by the Ministry of Education and chaired by the Minister for Education, it should be a representative body with membership from all government agencies providing continuing education from the formal educational system and from relevant non-government agencies.

NCCCE should be a high level policy making body with considerable authority and status and with strong financial resources and with support personnel. It should have a permanent Executive Committee of civil servants to implement its policies.

The functions of an NCCCE would be to

1) determine and direct all continuing education activities towards the vision of socio-economic development of a country;

2) determine the types of programmes to be promoted under CE;

3) plan for and ensure the production of high quality continuing education materials;

4) plan training programmes for all levels of CE personnel.

5) identify target groups and promote delivery systems to meet their needs;

6) formulate guidelines for planning, co-ordinating and evaluating continuing education activities.

In order to be maximally effective the NCCCE and its Executive Committee should have direct organisational links with the National Planning Commission, with relevant research and development units and with any existing future oriented instrumentalities such as a National Commission for the Future. It should establish and promote national level «think tanks» and have access to a range of data banks.

The NCCCE should also perceive its role as responding to emerging needs at local level. Therefore, it should not only be «top-down» in its orientation but should receive feedback from and respond to changing needs and circumstances at all levels of the system. In their turn, however, the middle and local levels of the CE infrastructure should develop their activities within the policy framework determined by the NCCCE. NCCCE should also promote the development of a nation-wide CE network by co-ordinating the disparate networks established at provincial level (see Section C).

C. Middle Level Management

In each province, region or state, there should be a Provincial Co-ordinating Committee or Council for Continuing Education (PCCCE) and each should have its executive body. As in the case of NCCCE each PCCCE should be a representative body. Its functions could be as follows:

1. Interpret and apply NCCCE policy at provincial level

2. Establish a provincial network for CE and relate this to the national network

3. Promote delivery systems, programmes, activities and agencies for CE throughout the province.

4. Identify categories of clientele and cater for their needs

5. Establish a field consultancy service

6. Train providers in the principles and practice of CE

7. Develop good quality materials for continuing education and also help providers produce their own materials.

8. Promote and supervise the establishment of local learning centres

9. Sponsor research and development in CE

10. Monitor and evaluate the impact of CE at provincial and local levels.

At provincial level a professional body of continuing education personnel needs to be established and trained to perform the tasks listed above. In some instances the training may be provided by the formal system (by universities and colleges in particular) and in others by in-house on job systems and by internal staff development activities.

D. Points of Delivery at Local Level

Provision of opportunity for lifelong learning, that is continuing education. should be available to all adults everywhere. This implies that any infrastructure for continuing education should ensure that programmes and activities are in place locally and that there is ready access to them.

Since continuing education can be provided by the formal, non-formal and informal (self learning) subsectors, and since there are many types of continuing education such as post-literacy, equivalency, quality of life, individual interests and so on, it follows that there is usually a multiplicity of agencies providing activities in any given locality - see figure 5.1 (reproduced from Volume 10 of the ATLP series).

The question arises to what extent should there be intervention and coordination to ensure (i) quality of provision (ii) ready access (iii) coordinated effort and lack of redundancy and (iv) maximum impact.

As a minimum two things should occur:

1) All the agencies in any given locality should be part of the provincial continuing education network established by level B personnel. Their work should be facilitated by training offered to them from level B and by help given in designing and providing programmes and activities.

2) A coordinating agency or «entry point» in the form of a Learning Centre should be established in each district or locality. In rural areas there should be one in each village and township. In urban areas there should be one for each city municipality or cluster of suburbs. Such learning centres would have several major roles. These are summarised below:

(i) Act as clearing houses of information about CE in the local area and promote the idea of CE locally.

(ii) Encourage more local agencies to offer CE and promote local participation.

(iii) Offer general learning facilities to the local people(e.g. reading centres, meeting halls), and especially promote the development of a reading habit.

(iv) Provide management bases for CE field consultants and visiting level B personnel

(v) Act as providing agencies in their own right especially in areas such as basic literacy, post-literacy, income generation and quality of life. Par time staff should be appointed to provide these programmes.

(vi) Act as social and community centres for the local people.

(vii) Provide general community services - e.g. health monitoring; agricultural extension; guidance and counselling service and the like.

Figure 5.1 A Classification of Some of the Agencies Providing Continuing Education

Such centres should be family oriented and managed by the local people. A representative management committee would need to be established for each. The centres may or may not have formal links with the PCCCE, but in any event they should work with it in close cooperation.

E. Overall Infrastructure

In summary an effective infrastructure for CE should be established at three levels.

Level A:

At national level a policy making and coordinating body (NCCCE) should be established.

Level B:

In each province there should be a Coordinating Committee (PCCCE) to interpret policy, promote CE, train providers and facilitate activities.

Level C:

In each district (locality) there should be a multiplicity of CE providers (agencies). Their work should be facilitated and in part coordinated by local learning centres managed by committees of local residents.

In interpreting the infrastructure illustrated in figure 5.2 it is important to appreciate that the linkages between levels and instrumentalities represent (i) communication pathways and (ii) lines of interactive intervention. Arrow heads have not been shown because the «flow» can occur in any direction between all points of the system. For example policies formulated at level A should not only be based on ideas generated at that level but on feedback received from levels B and C. Middle level management (level B) works with level A and facilitates the work of level C.

It is also important to appreciate that the various local providing agencies should not be «controlled» by the system but facilitated by it. If any provider should wish to stand aside from the infrastructure or not be part of the CE network that provider should have the right to be independent. This is an important aspect of any CE infrastructure. It should encourage diversity and a multiplicity of delivery systems. Such systems should not be too constrained by bureaucratic policy or regulations. Creative differences, independent lines of thought and a multiplicity of agencies should be promoted and coordinating agencies such as a PCCCE or a local learning centre should not coerce but encourage and help.

This overall scheme is illustrated in figure 5.2 below:

Figure 5.2: An infrastructure for continuing education

NCCCE = National Coordinating Committee for Continuing Education
PCCCE = Provincial Coordinating Committee for Continuing Education


A. Definition and types

In broad terms a learning centre is simply any organized place where a person may learn. Schools, polytechnics, museums, libraries and commercial in-house training units are thus learning centres. Under APPEAL, however, and especially under ATLP-CE, the concept has a more specific meaning. It generally refers to a local centre outside the formal education system for a village or an urban community managed by the local people and providing (i) resources for local development and family oriented learning and (ii) information about the what, how, where and when individuals can engage in various types of continuing education locally.

Before examining the idea of an ATLP-CE learning centre in greater detail it perhaps may be appropriate to review what the concept means in more general terms. Basically there are three types of learning centre; (i) institution-based (ii) community based and (iii) comprehensive.

Type I:

Institution-Based: These are centres within an educational or training institution which provide courses and activities for students of that institution and/or members of the general public. Activities are either remedial in nature or course equivalents presented by alternative means. An example is the learning centre network in the technical colleges of Australia. In these centres courses are offered to both members of the public and to students of the colleges in (i) basic literacy (ii) post-literacy (iii) English for non-English speaking migrants, (iv) specific educational remediation and (v) courses of the college presented by alternative means. Activities are all individualised and learning is self-paced.

Type II:

Community-Based: Village or Urban Centres managed by local people and focusing on the family as a learning unit. They are outside the formal system but may help people obtain formal qualifications by alternative means. They may themselves be providers. They all help individuals, however, to learn either through individual unstructured activities or through the activities of local providers. This is the type of centre promoted under ATLP-CE.

Type III:

Comprehensive: This type is as yet only theoretical. It is the type proposed by Malcolm Knowles as a holistic life-long learning centre which subsumes the formal, non-formal and informal subsectors into one system and caters for all the learning needs of all people throughout life2. According to Knowles, comprehensive learning centres should facilitate all learning projects undertaken by individuals. They would coordinate the activities of all educational providers in a given community to meet the educational needs of each individual. An individual would go to the centre and (i) have his or her learning skills assessed, (ii) have his or her development stages and life role needs diagnosed (iii) meet an educational planner who would help set learning objectives and advise on how they could be achieved and (iv) undertake a learning plan with one or more providers monitored by the centre. The centre would then assess and evaluate outcomes of the learning plan and move the learner on to the next project. The Knowles model is illustrated in figure 5.3. Under the Knowles model all societal agencies are educational providers and the society as a whole is a learning society.

2 Knowles, Malcolm S. Creating lifelong learning communities. A paper prepared for the UNESCO Institute for Education, Hamburg, Germany, January 1983.

B. Learning Centres Under ATLP CE

Under ATLP-CE Knowles’ type III comprehensive learning centre could be seen as a long term ideal goal which would not only replace the present system of formal education but also integrate all elements of non-formal and informal education for lifelong learning. This development has not yet occurred anywhere in the world but as societies especially in the Third world, become more and more disillusioned with formal schooling, then this approach could well emerge as a viable alternative.

At the present stage of development of most countries of Asia and the Pacific Type II i.e. community-based learning centers, should be promoted. According to Boonlerd Masang3 such centres, should be family oriented and should integrate learning, working and living. They should be concerned essentially with basic education, skills training and in providing up-to-date news and information as shown in figure 5.4.

3 Masang, Boonlerd. A Proposal for lifelong education system at the village level in Thailand. Hamburg: UNESCO Institute for Education, 1987.

The ATLP-CE concept of community based centres is, however, somewhat broader than that envisaged by the model given in figure 5.4. A community-based learning centre under ATLP-CE should not only be a local provider of the activities suggested by Masang (Figure 5.4) but should facilitate access to a full range of CE activities including programmes catering for quality of life improvement, post-literacy, equivalency, individual interests and so on (see Chapter 6). It should be both a direct provider and a link with all other local providers. It should encourage both unstructured and structured learning by all adult citizens. It should help individuals set and achieve learning objectives appropriate to their individual stages of personal and societal development and it should ensure that this process continues throughout life.

This role for community based learning centre under ATLP-CE is highly professional and although each centre should be managed by the local people it serves it should have access to well qualified continuing educational advisers - level B field consultants, programme designers and so on. It should be part of a provincial/national CE network and have effective and efficient links with all relevant local providers. Its functions should be as set out in Part I Section D of this chapter.

Figure 5.3: Comprehensive Centres for lifelong learning as proposed by Malcom Knowles. Note each main centre has four satellite centres and all link together all agencies of the learning society.

Figure 5.4: The key functions of community-based Learning Centre (After Boonlerd Masang) based on a general model used by the Department of Non-Formal Education in Thailand.

C. Guidelines for a Community Based Learning Centre

On the following pages a checklist is provided on aspects of a community-based learning centre. This checklist gives general guidelines for those considering establishing or needing to strengthen existing ATLP-CE type community based learning centres.

For further aspects of learning centres consitant with the approach advocated under ATLP-CE readers are refered to the Final Report of the First Workshop on the Development of the UNESCO Co-action Learning Centre Programme Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 12-18 November 1992. This workshop was co-sponsored by (i) Asia and the Pacific Federation of UNESCO Club and Assiciations (ii) UNESCO National Association of Malaysia and (iii) National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan.


1. Functions

1.1 Provide a place for learning

A repository of learning materials
A place to learn how to learn and how to live
A place with a positive welcoming environment for learning
A place to help individuals achieve their learning objectives
A place which encourages people to read

1.2 A provider of CE programmes

Basic education
Post literacy
Equivalency programmes
Income generating activities
Quality of life programmes

1.3 A link with all other local CE providers

Linkage with PCCCE (level B)
Member of CE network
Inventory of all CE activities available locally
Linkages with all providers
Links with formal education institutions

1.4 General Community Functions

Community meeting place
News centre
Sporting centres
Hobby centre
A place for cultural activities
Day care centre for families
A place for cooking and sharing of food

1.5 A place to upgrade skills

A training centre
Place for sharing ideas and solving problems
A counselling and guidance facility
Vocational programme provision

1.6 A Centre for Coordinating Services of Government Agencies

Health centre
Family planning centre
Political meeting place
Agricultural extension
Conservation, forestry, soils, education centres
Housing advisory service

2. Getting a Centre started

A centre may be initiated by any of the following:

Local leaders may initiate LC as a perceived need
Non-formal education system of government may stimulate interest
Volunteers initiate
Formal Education Sectors perceive need
Private Sector initiative
NGO’s initiative
Religious institutions initiative

3. Resources Needed

3.1 Learning resources

Individualized materials
Multi-media resources
Posters and charts
Software for electronic and other systems
Radio and television receivers
Textbooks/reference books
Duplicated notes
Quizzes and tests
Games (educational)
Maps globes, etc.

3.2 Learning support facilities

Adequate budget
Writing materials
Graphic art supplies
Public address system
Loud hailers
Transport facilities
Duplicating/photocopying machines
Notice boards
First aid facilities
Health-oriented facilities
Audio-visual equipment
Workshop equipment
Word processors
Recreational/sporting equipment

3.3 Buildings and Furnishings

Teaching areas
Flexible furnishings
Informal furnishings
Display areas
Social areas
Quiet areas
Domestic spaces (cooking, eating, toilets, etc.)
Appropriate floor coverings
Good lighting
Storage facilities

3.4 Human Resources

Management committee
General instructors, teachers, facilitators
Access to specialized providers
Support workers (typists, cleaners etc.)
Access to field CE consultants and other B level personnel

4. Sources of Support

Government grants
Private sector donations
NGO sources
Donations from public
Gifts from learners
Fees from learners
Self-made products and income from sales
Use of volunteers
Loans from libraries
Rental systems
Income-generating projects of the Centre
Donations from religious organizations
Fund-raising campaigns
Membership drives
International funding

5. Institutions which could become centres

Community halls/village halls NFE (existing) Centres
Primary schools
Reading Centres
Religious Centres
CE Centres in universities
Local government agencies
NGO’s offices
Commercial organization’s spaces
Sports club/social clubs
Government agencies
Vocational Education Centres
Private houses
Natural reserves (parks)
Cultural Centres
Publishing houses
Village newspaper reading Centres
Entertainment Centres

6. Some characteristics of an effective centre

Entry point for all available CE programmes
Adequate learning materials
Positive learning environment
Open access/caters for all
Owned and managed by people
Involves formal, non-formal and informal subsectors
Methods appropriate for learners
Good facilitators
Individualized approach
Multi-media approach
Flexible for local needs
Strategically located
Adequate recurrent budget
Extension programmes available
Involvement of local agencies/providers
Part of network/links with level B
Regular programmes
Low cost to learners
Dynamic approach

D. Conclusion

In establishing an infrastructure for continuing education the central aim is to ensure that a comprehensive range of appropriate and effective opportunities for lifelong learning is available for al adults. This means that a full range of programmes and activities should be available in each locality. To facilitate access and utilization, local community based learning centres become a key to success.

Local people should perceive their learning centres not just as places to meet and to learn basics, but as an entry point to a whole system of CE which can cater for all their learning needs throughout life.

Seen from the perspective of the individual learner, an infrastructure for CE is in place to service the needs of the people: individual citizens; single families; small groups, and local communities. There is, however, another perspective. Individual needs most also relate to the needs and concerns of the society and of the nation as a whole. The infrastructure therefore must also ensure that continuing education grows in support of national development policies and plans, and the needs of individuals are balanced against those of the entire nation. Ideas and policies therefore must flow freely from bottom-up and from top-down and the infrastructure must allow for creative diversity as well as focused development.