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close this bookVolunteer Participation in Working with the Urban Poor (UNDP - UNV, 64 p.)
close this folderII. Insights derived from community-based programmes
View the document(introduction...)
Open this folder and view contentsUrban informal sector
View the documentLow-income housing
View the documentInfrastructure and basic services
View the documentHealth and HIV/AIDS prevention
View the documentNon-formal education and functional literacy
View the documentWomen, gender and development
View the documentChildren of the street
View the documentImplications for VSAs

Non-formal education and functional literacy

It is paradoxical that relatively few case studies in the area of education have been included in the growing number of reports on programmes of support to low-income urban groups. Yet in both Latin America and Asia, much of the organisational work of local NGOs and PVOs, in some cases church-inspired, has heavily emphasised literacy and adult education programmes in low-income urban areas. These programmes have served to raise awareness of a sense of community, have enabled women to find a stronger voice in decision-making; and have imparted basic skills, through training, which can be put to immediate use in the informal sector.

UNESCO, in its long history of support to functional literacy and non-formal education programmes, has predominantly focused on rural areas. There may be an assumption that the educational needs of low-income urban groups require no special methodologies or techniques, although the nature of urban community concerns, outlined above, seems to indicate that special organisational efforts may be necessary.

The need for special emphasis on the educational needs of women in low-income urban areas should be a priority as well. Studies have shown that when women have access to education, family planning can take root; infant and child mortality rates decrease; literacy and nutritional levels rise among children; and family welfare improves through greater wage-earning potential. Promoting the socio-economic role of women is an essential step in confronting community concerns and encouraging a participatory approach to solving them. There remains enormous scope for greater VDW involvement in working with communities, and especially women and children, in meeting educational needs.