Literacy and non-formal education
Learning to read and write is a fundamental right. Yet, 38 % of African adults (some 153 millions) are illiterate; two-thirds of these are women.
Africa is the only continent where more than half of parents are not able to help their children with homework due to illiteracy.
Apart from Cabo Verde, UNESCO Dakar covers countries that are among the twenty lowest ranking countries in the Human Development Index. Literacy rates are hence below 50% in Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger and Senegal.
The situation is alarming as literacy is a crucial step to acquire the basic skills needed to cope with the many challenges children, youth and adults will face throughout their lives.
For many disadvantaged young people and adults, non-formal education is one of the main routes to learning. Non-formal education reaches people in their own context and ideally in their own local language.
UNESCO’s Regional Office in Dakar works on several fronts:
- Build capacities among key resources persons (national officials and experts). The aim is to make literacy and non-formal education part of sectoral policies as well as monitor and evaluate efforts at national level.
- Advocate for more resources to literacy and non-formal education and the use of national languages. Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal) have, for example, significantly increased their budget allocation to literacy.
- Create and adopt innovative approaches. Building on lessons learned and our rich experience UNESCO works with governments, civil society, development partners and the private sector to explore new avenues for reaching out, in particular through the use of ICTs.
UNESCO Dakar’s programmes and projects:
- Support countries in the Education for All Acceleration Initiative. UNESCO Dakar provides technical support to the development of national plans in Niger and Senegal to eradicate illiteracy by 2023.
- Strengthen the synergy between the Literacy and Non-Formal Education (LNFE) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). Efforts are being made to build bridges between literacy and the world of work, through enhanced synergies between TVET and non-formal education. UNESCO Dakar has engaged with 6 countries in the Sahel region to address this issue
- Develop certification frameworks for teacher training in French-speaking countries of ECOWAS. A harmonized reference framework for the training of trainers in formal and non-formal bilingual schools has been achieved and validated by the French-speaking countries of ECOWAS. It consists in five modules. Together with the UNESCO’s Regional Office in Abuja, UNESCO Dakar is supporting countries in the implementation of this curriculum framework
- Measure learning outcomes in literacy In partnership with UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, UNESCO Dakar implements the action-research project RAMAA (Recherche-action sur la mesure des apprentissages des bénéficiaires des programmes d’alphabétisation) in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
- Teacher training policy in literacy and non-formal education in Senegal. UNESCO Dakar supports the Minister of Education to implement a teachers’ training policy in basic education, including the literacy and non-formal education. This support is given within UNESCO’s capacity-building efforts for EFA (CapEFA).
- Use of ICTs and national languages in literacy. UNESCO Dakar continues to build on the lessons learned from the encouraging literacy project in Senegal between 2012-2014, which successfully reached out to some 40.000 girls and women through the use of ICT in national languages and French. Following the results obtained in Senegal, the Gambia and Nigeria have launched similar projects and digital learning kits are also being tested in Cabo Verde and Guinea-Bissau.