Municipal Literacy Coordination - Philippines
Putting the “All” into Education for All in the Philippines
From fishermen to homemakers, from pre-schoolers to dropouts, from teachers to municipal workers - not forgetting the very young, the very old and the marginalized - the entire local population in the Municipality of Agoo in La Union, the Philippines, has the chance to become literate or upgrade their skills thanks to its municipal authority.
Agoo’s Municipal Literacy Coordinating Council puts the “All” into Education for All with its ambitious Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning Programme which serves the region’s 49 barangays, or villages. After garnering several national literacy awards, the programme has now won one of the awards of the 2009 UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy.
On one end of the spectrum, a structured literacy and post-literacy programme has considerably reduced the illiteracy in the region. On the other, scholarships are made available for bright children who might not otherwise pursue their studies. In between, income-generating programmes cover everything from welding to therapeutic massage, and include several indigenous crafts.
The holistic vision of the programme is evident in the six learning strands within the Accreditation and Equivalency Sub-Programme, namely communication skills, critical thinking and problem-solving, sustainable use of resources and productivity, self-development, a sense of community and expanding one's world vision.
Education and training opportunities also include childcare, hygiene and prevention of infectious diseases. Farmers do capability training, enabling them to increase their yield and income. Teachers and municipal workers are encouraged to upgrade their skills, notably in computer literacy.
Many of the programmes are conducted in the four Community Learning Centres which serve the region. Activities in the summer day-schools for younger children take place “under the mango tree”. Travelling teachers and mobile libraries ensure that the unreached are reached.
The leadership of the municipal authorities in identifying potential beneficiaries and in coordinating activities to offer them an education relevant to their needs has been credited as a key factor in raising literacy levels and sustaining lifelong learning in the region.
The diversity of the programme is mirrored by that of its funding sources. The Municipality of Agoo coordinates the activities of many national agencies and non-governmental organizations: local, provincial and national government agencies provide half of the funding, a dozen NGOs provide a further 25 per cent donors account for 20 per cent and the private sector gives 5 per cent. This variety contributes to the project’s sustainability and was found “exemplary” by the jury for the Literacy prizes.
In providing a sustainable literate environment for all, the Municipality of Agoo is entirely in accordance with the ‘literacy and empowerment’ theme in the calendar of the United Nations Literacy Decade. The key to its ambitious, all-embracing programme is that it does not consider literacy in isolation but as part of continuing education and learning throughout life.
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