|APPEAL - Training Materials for Continuing Education Personnel (ATLP-CE) - Volume 2: Post-Literacy Programmes (APEID - UNESCO, 1993, 112 p.)|
The previous chapter (Chapter Six) described a general infrastructure for continuing education as the contextual background for administering and effectively organising programmes in post-literacy. An essential framework was proposed at three levels namely: (i) level A national; (ii) level B provincial or regional and (iii) level C local. The main points of delivery in this framework was a series of locally organized learning centres (Figure 6.1).
Chapter Six also proposed a management infrastructure for continuing education including policy making bodies, administrative and development instrumentalities and a system of providing agencies (Figure 6.2). The general roles of the agencies, committees and other instrumentalities were briefly reviewed in relation to post-literacy programmes within the general framework of continuing education. This present chapter describes in greater detail strategies for each «level» of the proposed infrastructure for effectively implementing post-literacy activities. The chapter also summarises a step-by-step procedure for designing and implementing post-literacy programmes and comments briefly on possible methods of delivery. Firstly though, some problems and challenges associated with implementing post-literacy programmes are identified and discussed.
B. SPECIAL PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES
In plating and implementing post-literacy programmes, there are a number of problems and challenges. The table below lists some of them (Table 7.1).
Table 7.1: KEY BARRIERS TO POST-LITERACY
1. Poor motivation to learn
To inspire and infuse hope among the target groups and to make programmes relevant.
2. Stigma of adult literacy programmes
To build a new image by designing dynamic relevant programmes.
To strengthen awareness programmes and integrate post-literacy into national socio-economic planning.
4. Shortage of suitable post-literacy materials
To design and develop cheap, interesting post-literacy materials. (Co-operatively with book and audio-visual publishers.)
5. Scarcity of enlightened post-literacy advocators.
To have special training strategies.
6. Weak national commitment and poor programme co-ordination.
To affect national policy through strong secretariat at national, provincial or regional and local levels.
7. Difficulty in defining basic functionality in terms of content or subject matter.
To emphasize processes and general skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and willingness to learn rather than a mere body of knowledge.
Each of these aspects is discussed below.
(a) Motivational Problems
Post-literacy programme, as presently constituted have been less successful than basic literacy programmes or other forms of continuing education such as equivalency programmes, at least in some Member States. The key source of the problem is lack of motivation and the cause is either economic or psychological.
The economic aspect is that an adult with a Emily may consider it better to spend time gaining a recognized certificate or diploma (through an equivalency programme) or to spend time in income generating continuing education programmes. He or she may see the general educational goals of post-literacy to be too vague and the materials to be irrelevant and dull. No immediate rewards appear to emerge. The fight for economic survival becomes stronger than the need for intellectual pursuit and the learner either fails to enrol or drops-out. This idea is illustrated is figure 7.1 below.
The diagram (Figure 7.1) shows the unstable nature of neo-literacy. Whether or not an adult learner proceeds beyond that stage will depend very much on the quality of educational input at that time, together with a strong motivation to continue to learn.
Figure 7.1: The literacy regression circuit
The challenge posed to the post-literacy educator is to design an attractive relevant programme to persuade learners to participate. There is need to infuse and inspire a sense of hope.
As has been discussed elsewhere in this volume the most successful post-literacy programmes (in Australia, DPR Korea and Thailand for example) have been presented in association with on job training. These programmes have linked together job-related skills and general educational and recreational elements. This is the reason why job-skills should be an important subject line in a curriculum framework for post-literacy (see Chapter 3).
(b) Stigma of Adult Literacy
There are many instances where adult literacy programmes implemented in good faith and with the best intentions sometimes become unsuccessful and unpopular. This is because literacy was presented for its own sake without any economic goals. People gave priority to other programmes which contributed quantitatively to economic growth. Literacy and post-literacy activities were seen by some less well-informed politicians, planners and developers as politically wasteful, trivial and irrelevant. Such programmes were considered to be outside of the socio-economic development paradigm of the day.
Subsequently, however, a crisis emerged caused by what became known as the diploma disease where people become academically qualified but unemployable. This caused intellectuals, policy makers and politicians to review their attitude and find alternative approaches to education, especially through continuing education, and in particulars through post-literacy programmes.
While this re-valuing is important, post-literacy workers, must be able to demonstrate that their programmes are effective and will promote economic growth. Programmes need to demonstrably contribute to economic growth and social equity as desired and proclaimed by legislators.
Allocation of folds to continuing education in general and to post-literacy in particular in most national budgets is marginal. Without a steady flow of funds planning and progress always will be ad hoc and sporadic and programmes become symbolic rather than substantive.
The challenge to all post-literacy advocators is to face the problem of funding and budgeting and to take seriously the need to support this critical area of development. The socioeconomic benefits of post-literacy programmes need to be emphasised so that governments can be convinced of a genuine return for investment.
Most importantly policy makers should become aware that post-literacy programmes are needed in all societies, irrespective of their degree of development. This will establish a climate of acceptance which will not only foster committed leadership, but also promote interest amongst neo-literates and semi-literates.
As an absence of information leads to lack of understanding and so builds barriers between target groups and advocators, «reaching out» programmes are needed. Post-literacy educators must break out of the narrow confines of their day-to-day concerns and promote the key role that post-literacy plays in personal and socio-economic growth. They must convince legislators that increased financial allocations for post-literacy means increased social and national prosperity.
(d) Shortage of Post-Literacy Materials
On the whole post-literacy programmes lack public support. This in turn limits the amount of money provided for post-literacy. In turn this affects the supply of high quality learning materials for post-literacy.
At present the private sector is not strongly motivated to produce materials for post-literacy since they perceive the market to be too small. This produces a vicious cycle leading to poor learning environments. This in turn is one reason for the weak motivation among many neo-literates and semi-literates. Much of the material presently available is not only expensive but boring.
The challenge faced by a dynamic post-literacy advocator is to design learning materials, and especially reading materials, which are not only interesting and instructive, but are also cheap. Materials should be readily available to all and they must be relevant to local needs and to individual aspirations. There must be a wide range of materials for each «cell» of the curriculum grid.
There is no doubt that this is a considerable challenge. It requires strong imagination and a high level of creativity to produce good quality materials for neoliterates and semi-literates. The approach must be original and interesting. All resources must be exploited. Book publishers should be closely involved and their help and support encouraged and recognized. (See Chapter 4).
(e) Scarcity of Enlightened Post-literacy Advocates
In a world where economic principles prevail over moral and social values, enlightened post-literacy advocates may be out of fashion and subordinate. And it is true that at present post-literacy advocates who work tirelessly to improve the plight of the poor and the illiterate and semi-literate masses without seeking material rewards in return are all too scarce.
This problem is compounded if the public sector is the only sector involved in post-literacy. A failure by bureaucracy to respond adequately to the need could transfer to all other systems and destroy the will to help. What is needed is an improved quality in teacher trainers for work in this area. By appropriate application of action, training, research, and of group dynamics post-literacy programmes can be improved and the ability of presenters enhanced without too great a financial outlay (see chapter 8).
(f) Weak National Commitment and Poor Coordination
In many cases commitment to post-literacy is purely symbolic and lack of interest is frequently demonstrated by the absence of clear national policy. Without a national policy post-literacy programmes do not catch the interest of policy makers and programme implementors and programmes become marginal. Programme implementation then becomes problematical and in the absence of clear guidelines and coordination between relevant agencies it has a low priority. In the absence of central policy or clear guidelines duplication of function and wastage of scarce resources are bound to occur.
The challenge here for post-literacy advocates is to design and implement a national policy that leads to systematic programme planning and implementation (see Chapters Three, Six and Seven). A well organized planning, implementation and evaluation infrastructure at each administrative level (national, provincial/regional and local) is essential to coordinate the educational efforts of the many ministries and agencies likely to be involved. This is especially important since success requires a concerted effort from almost every sector including government agencies, NGOs and the private sector.
(g) Difficulty in Defining Basic Functionality
One reason why post-literacy programmes are not given higher priority by government is that some governments may have unrealistic expectations about their roles and functions in society. One of these expectations relates to the issue of basic societal functionality and how to promote this.
The reason for the problem is that frequently the issue is approached from the point of view of what basic knowledge a citizen should have to function adequately in our complex societies. Does the knowledge involve communication methods (letter writing, map reading, computing and so on)? Does it include financial knowledge (budgeting, banking skills, knowledge of investments etc.)? Does it involve knowledge of civic rights and responsibilities (the laws of the land, politics, civic roles and duties)? Does the knowledge relate to family (family planning, family life, duties and roles and so on)? The list is endless.
This approach is counterproductive. It is indeed virtually impossible to define basic functionality in terms of what a citizen should know. What «should» be known is defined differently by different planners and individuals according to their own special needs and concerns. Further such «knowledge» is culturally determined and may be very different from one group to another and indeed from one individual to another.
The challenge to the post-literacy advocator is to convince politicians and other top-level planners that to reach for basic functional knowledge in these terms and to expect post-literacy programmes to provide such knowledge is a chimera. What is needed instead is to provide for basic functionality through the development of process skills. This approach focuses mainly on the ability and motivation to continue to learn. It involves the development of technical skills of advanced reading and numeracy. Above all it involves the development of general mental skills such as problem solving, the ability to assemble «schemes» in the mind, to think critically, to build general knowledge and to develop a rich and expanding vocabulary. This indeed is what post-literacy can and should do best. It should not chase the chimera of some undefinable body of knowledge but should develop the ability to obtain and process knowledge as that knowledge is needed.
C. IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AT LEVELS A, B AND C
The following identifies key strategies for implementing post-literacy programmes within the general context of continuing education.
a) Strategies at National/Central Level (Level A)
Strategy 1: Integrating post-literacy programmes with other development initiatives by strengthening linkages between agencies/organizations, both government and non-government involved in social services and development programmes.
Other development initiatives refer to national long-term or mid-term plans for socio-economic development, with which the post-literacy programmes should be developed in line. Linkages, interactions and cooperation should be between governmental and non-governmental agencies and organisations such as ministries of education, culture, agriculture, universities and schools, and womens organizations, youth federations, writer associations as well as religious organizations.
Strategy 2: Reinforcement of pre-literacy, literacy and post-literacy programmes as an expansion of the ATLP approach by providing varied modes and opportunities through multi-sectoral linkages.
It is necessary to integrate pre-literacy, literacy and post-literacy programmes in a planned and orderly way, and make them into one sustaining-programme which could enable participants to reach a higher stage of autonomous learning. In the meantime, various delivery systems characterized by flexibility, relevancy and eligibility, e.g. face-to-face teaching, self-instruction and distance learning, ought to provide wider opportunities for those who want to enter the programme at different levels at any place and time.
Strategy 3: Improving the internal efficiency of post-literacy programmes by instituting policy measures and development programmes geared towards the effective delivery of post-literacy promotion programmes at all levels.
Any policy measures aiming at improving the internal efficiency of post-literacy programmes are to be encouraged, i.e. low interest loans, grants, awards, necessary equipment and teaching facilities.
Strategy 4: Giving inch eased emphasis to the needs of special groups of learners, such as women, cultural sub-communities and the disabled, by providing post-literacy programmes suited to their needs.
Disadvantaged populations and groups like women, minorities, the rural poor and disabled are a central concern of the post-literacy programmes. Specific post-literacy programmes should be prepared and developed to meet the needs of such special groups of learners.
Strategy 5: Focusing on minimum essential learning needs for the meaningful and productive life of adults in terms of content (knowledge and skill) and psychological processes (adult learning).
Post-literacy promotion programmes are to provide further learning opportunities for adult learners to consolidate their technical skills such as reading, writing, numeracy as well as mental skills of problem-solving. They are also transition programmes to help learners obtain relative high competencies for autonomous learning and to help them improve work and living skills.
Strategy 6: Developing a training plan for post-literacy teachers and supervisors.
It is important that an overall training plan, model curriculum, prototype materials and training manual for post-literacy teachers and supervisors at national level be produced quickly. In other words, well qualified post-literacy personnel are one of the important determinants for the efficiency and quality of post-literacy programmes.
Strategy 7: Monitoring and evaluating post-literacy programmes at national level especially the promotion of input studies in relation to national development policies.
Monitoring and evaluation should be undertaken regularly to examine and assess the ongoing post-literacy curriculum, materials, modalities of instruction, achievement levels, and so on. This would greatly improve efficiency and reduce waste of resources.
Strategy 8: Implementing post-literacy programmes at all levels with necessary financial assistance.
To ensure the smooth and effective delivery of post-literacy programmes, funds should be allocated in a planned way.
Strategy 9: Promoting public awareness, especially employers and people in specified target groups to have a better understanding of the importance of the post-literacy programmes.
This can be done through the mass media, such as T.V., radio, newspapers and so on.
b) Strategies at Provincial/Regional Level (Level B)
Strategy 10: Reflecting and implementing all aspects of national policy at provincial and local levels.
Following all aspects of national policy does not mean neglect of specific needs when developing provincial/regional post-literacy programmes.
Strategy 11: Training post-literacy teachers and supervisors including extension workers from various sectoral agencies to complement the work of school teachers and others from the formal educational sector.
Training post-literacy personnel is a most arduous task for provincial level agencies, because large number of post-literacy teachers and supervisors as well as extension workers not only from the educational sector but also from other sectors (e.g. industry) need to be trained or retrained in order for them to have knowledge of post-literacy promotion programmes.
Strategy 12: Strengthening supportive programmes like mobile libraries and provision of rural newspapers, books and other development materials.
Support programmes such as mobile libraries or resource centres should be encouraged, and the provision of rural newspapers, books and other materials relevant to the post-literacy programmes should be given full support and be made available to most learners of the post-literacy programme.
Strategy 13: Enhancing/improving post-literacy programmes and activities by developing a variety of materials, appropriate methods of teaching, non-traditional delivery modes, and integrated learning approaches.
Post-Literacy teaching-learning materials should be functional, interesting and motivational and methodologies employed should be flexible. The adoption of non-traditional delivery modes, such as work-place training and distance learning, have many advantages.
Strategy 14: Strengthening linkages between involved agencies at the provincial level.
The close linkage and cooperation between the education sector and other sectors, i.e. agriculture, science, industry and technology, schools and local communities are extremely important. Involving these governmental and non-governmental agencies in the process of organisation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the post-literacy programmes will greatly facilitate the efficiency of the post-literacy programmes.
Strategy 15: Mobilising all possible resources to the post-literacy programmes.
These resources refer to human, financial, societal material, and other physical infrastructure resources. National allocation of funds for post-literacy programmes is generally inadequate, so funds should be obtained from many sources.
c) Strategies at Local/Grassroots Level (Level C)
Strategy 16: Ensuring the involvement of local people in planning, implementation and evaluation of post-literacy programmes.
In planning, implementing and evaluating post-literacy programmes, it is important that not only, educators and teachers be involved but also learners themselves.
Strategy 17: Utilizing local people as instructors or teachers in post-literacy programmes.
Local people as instructors or teachers of post-literacy programmes will no doubt promote the implementation of the programmes. The main reason is that they are familiar with local settings and also have a better understanding of local needs. At the same time, literate family members are the best facilitators in teaching activities. This is especially important if programmes are offered at the work place such as in factories or on farms.
Strategy 18: Assessing local resources.
These resources refer to human, financial and material resources which can be utilized in post-literacy programmes, e.g. local school facilities, libraries, bookstores, agricultural extension stations, and museums.
Strategy 19: Organizing post-literacy programmes at all appropriate/local venues.
A variety of courses and classes for post-literacy can be organized according to the practical conditions of the location, i.e. socio-economic and cultural environments as well as geographical, climatic factors.
Strategy 20: Encouraging volunteerism at local level.
Any kind of post-literacy programmes launched by social groups, such as community centres, religious institutions and neighbourhood communities should be encouraged and supported.
Strategy 21: Selecting key administrators, teachers and
supervisors at local level to participate in provincial training programmes in a
regular flay, or utilising correspondence education, self-instruction and T.V.
and radio programmes for training purposes.
The success of post-literacy programmes largely relies on the availability of qualified personnel at grassroots level, and on providing them with regular good quality training programmes.
C. STEPS IN IMPLEMENTATION
Once implementation strategies and actions have been determined, the development of precise procedures for post-literacy programmes becomes a very important stage of implementation.
Bearing in mind the purpose of post-literacy programmes, eight major procedural steps are identified as follows:
Step 1: Survey numbers of people likely to benefit from post-literacy programme and their socio-demographic characteristics at defined levels of literacy.
This first step is mainly concerned with the relevance of the programmes. The survey should be conducted through various methods and approaches, such as interviews and questionnaires which could provide first-hand data for the programme developers. In this way the needs of target groups can be determined.
Step 2: Establish or identify and support provincial and local management committees.
It is important to involve people from other sectors, such as agriculture, science and technology, local communities, religious institutions and so on, in the management committee. Womens representation is also essential.
Step 3: Identify, establish and/or strengthen appropriate delivery systems drawing from the strengths of the basic education system.
Modalities of delivery should be characterised by maximum flexibility. In other words, delivery systems should not be restricted by time, venue or facilities. It is suggested that non-traditional modes be used, e.g. correspondence programmes, work-place programmes, distance learning, self learning, informal group learning and household learning.
Step 4: Re-train ATLP personnel in CE and recruit additional personnel capable of developing advanced reading skills, e.g. formal school teachers.
Regular training for post-literacy programmes should be developed and implemented and post-literacy personnel should be trained or retrained before launching the post-literacy programmes at national, provincial and local levels. Besides, day-time teachers of formal schools are sometimes the best for post literacy programmes but they need to be retrained for this type of programme.
Step 5: Train post-literacy personnel in advanced reading, and in the techniques of learning how to learn, and in related skills.
Personnel involved should be skilled in the presentation and the evaluation and assessment of advanced reading, writing, numeracy and other related skills. Such skills should be introduced in a phased manner. Post-literacy personnel should also be trained in methods of encouraging and facilitating adult learning.
Step 6: Identify and mobilize local personnel, facilities, materials and other resources.
To promote post-literacy programmes, positive measures should be taken to mobilise the whole society to help implement post-literacy activities. In this regard, mass-media can be involved. On the other hand, it is equally important to motivate target groups to actively participate in the programmes and help them overcome obstacles in learning.
Step 7: Strengthen and expand existing post-literacy programmes to meet emerging needs.
Since socio-economic progress is dynamic and continuing the curriculum of post-literacy programmes should also be a changing one and be able to adjust at any time to meet new emerging needs.
Step 8: Plan an evaluation system for assessing progress and for monitoring impact.
Evaluation plays an important role in improving the internal efficiency of post-literacy programmes. Indicator systems for the overall evaluation of all the aspects of post-literacy programmes should be developed and adopted.
Once the strategies and implementation steps are developed and carried out, learning activities are going to be organized and presented through some system of delivery. Careful planning of the delivery system is vitally important. Without effective, interesting, flexible delivery systems, any strategies, even the best ones, will be fruitless.
D. DELIVERY SYSTEMS
Since these programmes are mainly to strengthen and build on basic literacy skills the most appropriate delivery systems will have some features in common with those from literacy training activities as covered by AT L P. In addition, however, the approach taken and the resources required should cater for individual differences and should promote self-initiated learning, self-pacing and reduced dependency on formal teaching. Appropriate delivery systems are discussed below.
a) Contact session: Contact sessions demand the presence of a post-literacy educator who acts as a facilitator for the learners. The learning materials must be programmed and graded. Post-literacy programmes are mainly self-instructional and individuals should work through materials at their own pace and according to need. Nevertheless regular group meetings in reading or other types of leaning centers would greatly enhance learning opportunities.
The strong point of the contact approach is the presence of a facilitator who is readily available to assist the learner whenever learning difficulties arise. The facilitator could help in the following ways:
· discussing individual progress;
· diagnosing weaknesses and identifying strengths;
· suggesting which types of materials could be selected for further work;
· assisting in overcoming specific difficulties;
· checking that all necessary competencies are being attained.
Such immediate personal attention can be a motivating factor in most cases.
Besides having a facilitator, this face to face contact is also flexible since it can be undertaken at any place at any time. The learning session can be designed as part of living and working activities, and may even be located in the home or at the place of work.
To make the contact session meaningful, the facilitator must understand the psychology of adults. Most important he or she must have a good knowledge of the psychology of «semi-literates» and must be sensitive and accommodating about their special problems.
b) Self-Learning: Self-learning is cheap but requires strong will-power on the part of the learner. Such learners must be self-disciplined as they control and manage post-literacy progress themselves. To facilitate learning, post-literacy advocators can assist by making graded and programmed materials available at the required times. This will sustain learning interest while reinforcing motivation. If the programme is continuous the self-learner can produce the quality of human resource required by the country, and so productivity will be high. Learners contribute to development while moving towards being autonomous learners. The special challenge for this type of delivery system is to develop a curriculum and learning materials which are interesting and developmental. This is a problem which requires immediate and serious attention.
c) Distance Learning: This delivery system provides the least contact with the tutor or facilitator. More often than not this communication channel will either be the postal system or the mass media. This delivery system is very challenging for the post-literate since there is no direct appeal to the tutor. To complete the programme the learner has to rely solely on personal motivation and on the ability to make correct learning decisions. The learner plans and decides alone. This system is heavily «centralised». What material should be developed and how they are to be utilized is decided centrally.
d) Mixed Approaches: This system has the features of contact session, self-learning and the distance learning combined. This is a rich system offering alternatives to the learner. The study materials of contact sessions combined with mass media can be most effective. Modern technology in audio-visual production can provide interesting programmes for adult learners enrolled in distance programmes.
This delivery system can be very effective if it is in a well-equipped learning centre accessible to the learners. Learning centres managed by the community involving private and public sectors enrich the learning environment. Using the principle of «productivity» the fees which may be charged and collected can be used for a revolving fund.
An important aspect of structured post-literacy programmes delivered in any of the above ways is that it provides increased opportunities for adults to continue to read. By fostering the development of graded learning materials bridging between competencies of basic literacy and competencies needed for self-directed life-long learning post-literacy programmes provide resources which can be made available throughout the community at levels appropriate for adults at various stages of educational development. Suitable materials can be provided in libraries, village reading centres and other types of learning centres and so a life-long reading habit can be promoted, and lifelong learning encouraged.
Successful implementation of post-literacy activities and programmes for adults depends essentially on three key factors. The first is the existence as a baseline of a systematic, wellgraded basic literacy programme which is competency-based and which provides functional literacy at a level which enables adults to learn on their own.
The second key factor is the development of reading habits among the general population. Post-literacy programmes depend on a high level of individual motivation. Since most post-literacy learning is largely self-directed, participants must appreciate the benefits and value of reading for both pleasure and for personal educational development. Reading habits cannot possibly emerge in the absence of suitable materials to read. One of the most important aspects of successfully implementing post-literacy programmes is the opportunity it provides to develop and distribute a wide range of interesting and relevant books and other resources at standards appropriate for defined levels of educational competency. Governments should accompany post-literacy programmes with effective large scale reading campaigns.
The third key factor is the need for a systematic overall plan of action. This involves a carefully designed infrastructure and delivery system. In particular a nation-wide programme of post-literacy must include a systematic curriculum framework with defined standards of competency.
The overall purpose of post-literacy should be constantly kept in view during implementations It should be appreciated by learners, facilitators and materials developers that the aim is to consolidate basic literacy skills and to develop those learning styles which enable adults to engage in life-long learning.