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Putting LWF Into Action: 
a Summary of Strategies and Activities

(updated 30 October, 1999)

Upcoming activities related to the work of LWF are listed in the Events page.

  • Open Learning Environments
  • New Technologies for Learning
  • LWF: promoting new visions on learning

  • Open Learning Environments

    Learning Without Frontiers (LWF) key concept is open learning environment. Several activities aim at developing clear ideas and directions that help to understand what is meant with open learning environment. The concept open learning environment does not exclusively refer to informal and non-formal education, but also to formal education.

    Activities in this respect are:

    • Reaching Unreached Learners in Mozambique: During 1997 Mozambique requested UNESCO to find a response to the needs of its large numbers of unreached learners and to attend in an integrated fashion to a growing diversity of learning needs. In August 1997 an LWF team visited the country to explore learning needs and opportunities to fulfill those needs (the mission report is also available in Portuguese).
      The mission marked the first step of a three-phase process. The first phase, reflected in the report above, analyzes the context of learning needs in Mozambique and examines the resources available to attend to such needs in a holistic manner, rather than through isolated and partial responses to pieces of the problem. During 1998 a national team worked on the development of an operational framework of action based on the initial analysis (only in Portuguese). The framework of action was operationalized (in 1999) into a project proposal. The first part of this proposal outlines the project and particularly concerns activities which will be implemented in the Province of Nampula. The second document concerns the establishment and structure of a Foundation for Learning Without Frontiers in Mozambique, which will promote and disseminate this concept, and which will be responsible for the implementation of the project. The third part, which is still under preparation, will define the modes of collaboration between the main parties involved in this project.
    • Transforming Community Schools into Open Learning Communities: LWF is collaborating with UNESCO's NGO Program on Literacy and Education For All on a project to transform community schools into truely open learning communities. The project aims to work with those involved in researching, implementing, and designing community schools projects around the world to further elaborate and operationalize the concept of open learning communities. A new web site reflects the work in progress for this activity.
    • "Global Knowledge Partnership Conference" (June 1997, Toronto). Hosted by the World Bank and the Government of Canada. LWF designed a Simulation Game "Constructing Open Learning Communities to Inspire a Changing World" as a learning event during the Conference. (This is a PDF Document). Link to Global Knowledge Partnership
    • "Constructing Open Learning Communities in a Changing World" (a PDF Document). A panel discussion prepared by LWF presented at the conference "Education, Democracy, and Development at the Turn of the Century", Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) (March 19-23, 1997, Mexico City)
    • "Audio-Visual Materials for Illiterate Learners." (Central America) These basic skills training packages are aimed at providing opportunities to, among other audiences, marginalized youth to play a meaningful role in their communities. UNESCO San José Office, in collaboration with the Radio Netherlands Training Centre and LWF, has produced packages:
      • "Creando con barro" (pottery)
      • "Tela, papel, tijeras" (textile, paper, scissors)
      • "Muebles de bambu" (bamboo furniture)
      • "Bloques para el progreso" (mud bricks)
      • "Agricultura organica" (organic agriculture)
      • "Reparaciones electricas" (electrical repair)
      • "Tejas microconcreto" (concrete rooftiles)
    • "Towards Building Open Learning Communities: Re-contextualizing Teachers and Learners" (a PDF Document). Contribution to the international conference on Information Technology: Supporting Change Through Teacher Education Kiryat Anavim, Israel, 30 June - 5 July 1996.
    • Learning Together - Intergenerational learning in the Arab World: Many children world wide do not live in environments that can fulfill their basic learning needs. LWF seeks to develop learning opportunities in the family environment, and is establishing a project in Egypt, building on the experiences of the Dutch Averroès Foundation. In this approach children work with their parents on a daily basis. This project is developed in close collaboration with the Section for Early Childhood and Family Education in UNESCO and the Dutch Government.
      A workshop was held to familiarize Egyptian professionals with the approaches of the Averroès Foundation and other approaches to home based early childhood education.
    • Preventive Education (on HIV/AIDS) for Pre-adolescents (PEP): This pilot project under preparation aims at contributing to the improvement of the strategies of preventive education, viewing the role of preventive education as a way of changing attitudes, for which the creation of a flexible and open learning environment is conducive. Relevant and culturally appropriate learning opportunities for teachers, pre-adolescents, community workers and policymakers will be created in such a way that it responds to the diverse learning needs of the target groups. The project is developed in collaboration with UNESCO Preventive Education Section, UNAIDS and UNFPA. It suggests three phases: Phase one: Needs Assessment; Phase two: Development of Appropriate Learning Opportunities for Pre-adolescents on Preventive Education, using World Wide Web applications and Phase three: Capacity building and Try-out.


    New Technologies for Learning

    A second orientation of Learning Without Frontiers (LWF) is to explore more specifically the opportunities of new technologies for learning.

    Activities in this respect are:

    • The Need For A New Perspective: Creating Learning Networks for African Teachers, Change, Professional Development and ICTs (also as PDF document). Paper presented at the conference Capacity Building for Information Technologies in Education in Developing Countries (CapBIT) (25-29 August 1997, Harare, Zimbabwe)
    • Creating Learning Networks for African Teachers: The "Creating Learning Networks for African Teachers" project aims to enhance the capacity of teachers and their institutions to become more responsive to new challenges in teaching and learning, by connecting teacher training colleges and their partners to the Internet. At the same time the project contributes to reducing fear and resistance to change and technology applications among teachers (see also above), and provide them with basic skills to use such new technologies. The project is implemented in several phases and activities are coordinated with, among others, the World Links for Development Program from the World Bank.

    Pilot activities were undertaken in Zimbabwe where five teacher training colleges and their partners were provided with equipment, connectivity and basic training. A discussion list was established as well as a project web-site that serves as a collaborative platform to support the initial activities of the involved teacher training colleges. The website links to the home pages of each of the participating colleges and institutions. The second phase of the project in Zimbabwe commenced with a workshop that took place mid January 1999. Apart from this and other training activities, the second phase of this pilot involves expansion to other teacher training colleges as well as to schools.


    In close collaboration with the UNESCO Office Dakar, the Senegalese Ministry of Education and other partners, similar activities as those in Zimbabwe are currently being prepared in Senegal. Teacher training colleges have been identified, and in 1998 the several committees who are responsible for the implementation of the project have been established.


    Currently, activities are planned for expansion of the Zimbabwe project to Namibia. In close collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning, UNESCO Harare Office and the Ministry of Education in Namibia, concrete steps are undertaken to further develop a small-scale project in Namibia on creating learning networks for African Teachers. For this purpose the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the UNESCO Namibia office developed a project proposal.

    • "Re-conceptualizing Learning Environments for Sustainable Human Development: The Potential of ICTs" In May 1998, LWF participated in the Ghana Computer Literacy and Distance Education Conference (GhaCLAD'98) in Accra. The materials used in the four hour session contain among others the facilitator instructions, the used case studies. This on-line version is the reviewed version, based on user evaluation and our experience in Accra. (This is a PDF Document).
    • "Information and Communication Technologies in Development: a UNESCO Perspective" LWF contributed to this paper for the UNCSTD Working Group on Information Technology for Development and to ITU Development Study Group 1. Paris, September 1996.
    • "Teachers and Other Media" Contribution to the preparation of the working documents for the 45th session of the International Conference on Education on Enhancing the Role of Teachers in a Changing World. Geneva, September 1996.
    • Multipurpose Community Telecenters: This project is a joint effort of UNESCO, ITU and IDRC, working together with national partners in Africa to introduce, diffuse and assess the impact of a multipurpose telecentre model for rural development through a series of pilot projects in five African countries - Benin, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. The pilot projects aim to stimulate rural development by facilitating communication and access to information and learning resources. The telecentres are to serve different target groups within the rural communities, e.g. local business men and women, health and extension workers, teachers, school children and youth out-of-school, women, local farmers, etc. Focus will be on developing, together with potential user groups, specific applications aimed at societal and personal change and development.
      In Mali and Uganda, all preparations are made to set up the telecentres. A first training workshop was held in Mali, Timbouctou, to create awareness and understanding among the education community, and in Nakaseke (Uganda) the community came together to participate in a Internet demonstration that connected them to Paris and Canada.
    • Interactive Television for In-service Teacher Training: UNESCO (LWF and Communications Sector) and the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) project on the "Educational Use of Interactive Television" aims to develop improved models for teaching and learning, benefiting from the potential of Interactive Television to create an interactive distance education environment. Currently the implementation of the Moroccan pilot project is well underway, while preparations are made to start in India soon. Following a joint UNESCO/ITU feasibility mission, Cape Verde has expressed interest to develop a pilot project as well.
      A training course on the use of Interactive Television took place in Israel (1998) organized by the Israel National Commission for UNESCO with a.o. participants from some of the DE9 countries. This was part of LWF's effort to coordinate activities among the DE9 countries (see below)
    • The Distance Education Initiative in nine high population countries (DE9)

    In December 1993, at the Education for All Summit in New Delhi, the leaders of nine selected high population countries - Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan - launched the Joint Distance Education Initiative (DE9). Covering half the world's population and almost three quarters of its illiterates, the nine giants identified distance education as an important modality through which the countries could make significant advances, working collaboratively, in major educational issues, i.e. training of teachers, addressing learning needs of neo-literates and out-of-school youth.
    UNESCO (LWF) was asked to facilitate networking between the nine participating countries and has, within this framework, supported the organization of several workshops and study tours in participating countries (India, Indonesia, Israel), and provided technical assistance at request (Brazil, Egypt).
    The five Asian DE9 countries benefit from a Asian Development Bank funded Regional Technical Assistance (RETA) project: "Primary School Teacher Training through Distance Education." Within the context of this project, UNESCO organized a Regional Seminar in Bangkok from 21 to 25 October 1996. UNESCO facilitated the participation of the other four countries in the Seminar. The meeting resulted in a proposal for DE9-wide training in key areas of distance education development.
    In February 1994 UNESCO organised an informal planning meeting on distance education in the nine high-population countries in Manilla, resulting in a DE-9 Concept Paper.

    • Literacy Development through Information and Communication Technologies: This pilot project aims at giving support to the growth of literate societies, taking advantage of the potential of technology as a tool to provide learning opportunities made relevant to the needs of the community. More specifically, the project will contribute to the broadening of access to literacy resources, as well as the enhancement of community participation in the development process of literacy and non-formal education learning materials. It will support local material production, training of grass-roots level personnel, and exchange and sharing of information (i.e. material dissemination) through information and communication technologies. Special attention will be paid to the training of women and minorities. The planned activities consist of four phases: (1) Planning, (2) Implementation, (3) Pilot testing and (4) Review meeting.


    LWF: promoting new visions on learling

    The two approches come together in several activities:

    • Global Youth Dialogue (GYD) GYD is an innovative project for and with youth (between 14-25 years old), launched in January 1999 and developed in close co-operation with UNESCO's Youth Coordination Unit. The aim of the project is to establish a dialogue with and for young people concerning all aspects of learning to live together in the information and knowledge society. Global Youth Dialogue will endeavour to identify youth's needs and concerns, establish concrete lines of action for their participation in development, and empower young people with the means to pursue these actions. A pilot project in Latin America was recently established, but it is envisaged that activities will expand to other regions of the world (e.g. Africa and Arab states).
    • Panel Discussion for International Council for Distance Education (ICDE) World Conference - "The New Learning Environment: A Global Perspective" (June 2-6): "Learning Without Frontiers: Beyond Open and Distance Learning."
      Panel presenters and their contributions (full text accessible through the link above):
      • Jan Visser, UNESCO ED/LWF, "Learning Without Frontiers: Beyond Open and Distance Learning"
      • Stephen Anzalone, Education Development Center (EDC), "Open Learning Environments in Developing Countries"
      • Manish Jain, UNESCO ED/LWF, "Policy Considerations for Enabling Open Learning Communities"
      • Gordon Naidoo, Open Learning Systems Education Trust (OLSET), "Educational Transformation and Open Learning Possibilities in South Africa"
    • "New Learning Technology and New Communication Environment for New Learning Communities" Contribution to the International Congress "City and Education in a Culture of Peace." Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 4-6 September 1996.
    • "Portfolio on Technology and Open Learning Communities": LWF created together with the UNESCO Innovations in Basic Education unit a portfolio of case studies which frames the opportunities and challenges that existing and emerging technologies offer for supporting different learners, learning needs, learning processes and learning systems around the world. The portfolio was published mid August 1997 as part of the joint UNICEF/UNESCO Education for All: Making it Work project, and is available on this web site. We invite you to read this extensive document with contributions from many leading thinkers/practitioners, and provide us with your comments as well as share your own experiences. Already we have included comments and additional case studies and opinion articles. We are looking for more contributions to continue developing this Portfolio.
    • Internet Virtual Interns
      LWF has been providing research internships via the Internet to graduate students throughout the world. this Virtual Interns program succesfully contributed to the creation of a base of talented and dedicated graduate students who are interested and committed to further developing and building the Learning Without Frontiers concept around the world. Rather than following the model of traditional on-site internships, the program attempts to innovatively utilize the Internet as a primary means of communication between the intern and the LWF unit in Paris. We have had an experimental phase during 1996/97 with students from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education (USA), University of Pittsburgh-School of Education (USA), and the Department of Educactional Science, Twente University in the Netherlands. The program has been evaluated and proved to be succesful. However, due to lack of capacity on our side, we are unable to accomodate any new candidates.
    • LWF Advisory Task Force: The LWF Advisory Task Force has been established to advise UNESCO on the development of the Learning Without Frontiers concept and to form a platform for partnership building around concrete action and decision making in LWF-related areas. A Task Force meeting was held in November 1996. The Preliminary Reflections provide a good overview of the discussions during that meeting... not just another report


    Regional, National and Institutional Capacity Building

    During the years LWF has supported several countries in their efforts to deal with questions related to reshaping the education paradigmas. Below is a list of workshops and seminars that were oreganized to encourage others to co-create the LWF concept.

    • In Qatar LWF collaborated with the Ministry of Education and UNESCO's Office in the organization of a workshop to introduce the 'learning without frontiers' concept.
    • LWF implemented a two-day workshop with UNICEF (Turkey) for 30 key individuals from the Ministry of Education and Finance, NGOs, media and communications on "Learning Without Frontiers: The Challenge of a Changing World." The focus was geared towards exploring how the LWF concept can be integrated into current and future activities of the country and of implementing organizations. Currently, we are preparing similar activities in other countries, like Qatar.
    • LWF was asked to make inputs to the programming of a Regional Seminar on Multi-Channel Learning/Distance Education for Reaching the Unreached in the Middle East and North Africa. Relevant information and suggestions were provided and contacts were made to follow up on these suggestions. LWF participated with a paper on Multi-Channel Learning: Technological challenges and opportunities for access and quality.
    • LWF facilitated a week-long interactive workshop in 1996 co-sponsored by the Aga Khan Educational Services (Pakistan) with 50 teachers on "The Challenge of Information and Communication Technologies in Creating a Better World." This workshop focused on exploring how LWF concepts can be integrated into the emerging activities of the organization and its schools. Recently a follow-up workshop was carried out in Pakistan to develop a programme for Teacher Centered Development.
    • LWF co-sponsored a week-long workshop in 1996 with the International Institute for Education Planning (IIEP) involving 50 participants on "Planning and Management of Distance Education for a Changing World."

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