Adult Learning and Illiteracy Elimination Programme
Country Profile: Jordan
|Primary School Net Enrolment/Attendance|
|Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)|
|Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 2007)|
|Programme Title||Adult Learning and Illiteracy Elimination Programme|
|Implementing Organization||Government of the the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Ministry of Education)|
|Language of Instruction||Arabic|
|Programme Partners||UNESCO, Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO).|
|Date of Inception||1952 –|
Background and Context
Since the early 1950s, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has made concerted efforts to combat illiteracy through the implementation of strategic policies for and sustained investment in educational development. As early as 1952, the Government instituted the Adult Learning and Illiteracy Elimination Programme (ALIEP). This programme initially targeted military personnel but was later broadened to include all illiterate and / or semi-literate adult citizens (aged 16 years and above) who, because of a variety of socio-economic challenges, dropped-out of school before achieving optimum levels of functional literacy. Because of this and other related educational programme (such as the provision of free and compulsory education for people aged 15 years and below), total illiteracy rates in the country had dramatically dropped to 7,7 % by 2008, of which males and females constituted 4,1% and 11, 4% respectively. Currently, the Kingdom has the highest levels of literacy for youth (99%) and adults (89%) in the Arab region. Despite these impressive achievements, the Kingdom remains committed to completely eradicate illiteracy. To this end, the Government through the Ministry of Education (MoE) has further expanded the scope and reach of the ALIEP, which is now being implemented across the entire nation.
The Adult Education and Illiteracy Elimination Programme (ALIEP)
The ALIEP is a specialized non-formal adult education or training programme that has matured significantly since its inception in 1952. Over the years, the MoE has worked closely with various stakeholders such as the Ministry of Social Development and UNESCO to improve the programme curricula and teaching methods in order to optimize its relevance and contribution to broader national development. The programme particularly targets regions with the highest rates of illiteracy such as the Umm Al-Rassas County where illiteracy rates are about 20%.
The ALIEP is being implemented nationwide under the auspices of the MoE and aims to create education and training opportunities for illiterate or semi-literate adults (aged 15 years and above) who were deprived of basic education in their youth. It has also been extended to prisons to compliment existing rehabilitation programme for prisoners. For example, during the 2008-2009 school year, 15 prison centres had a total enrolment of 493 learners. The programme is based on an integrated curriculum, offering basic and continuous literacy skills training with particular emphasis on the following subjects:
- Languages: Arabic and English
- Islamic Education
- General / Civic Education (religious, civilization, environmental, peace and human rights education)
- Computer skills
Aims and Objectives:
The programme aims to:
- Empower learners with functional literacy and life skills,
- Reduce illiteracy rates to 5% or less by 2015,
- Foster community capacity building and development,
- Promote cultural preservation and development and
- Create job opportunities for learners in order to combat unemployment and poverty.
Overall, the primary goal of the programme is to foster sustainable educational training for all but particularly the socially disadvantaged who are often forced to drop-out of school at an early stage.
Programme Implementation: Approaches and Methodologies
The implementation of the programme is regulated by the Educational Act (1964) and other related and complimentary State regulations and directives. The Educational Act empowers the MoE to fund and coordinate the implementation of the programme including providing learners with free learning materials, establishing adult learning centres and recruiting, training and paying of adult literacy teachers or facilitators. Over the years, the MoE has impressively executed its mandate and has, for example, established about 500 adult learning centres across the country during 2007-2008 learning calendar alone, of which 473 and 27 centres were for females and males respectively. During the same period 6 457 learners (455 males and 6002 females) were enrolled by and graduated from the centres.
The programme is divided into two learning phases: the beginners or basic and the follow-up or continuous stage, each of which is completed over 16 months or two school years. Upon completion of each learning stage, learners are awarded certificates which are equivalent to the fourth grade and sixth grade in the formal education system for the basic and follow-up levels, respectively. Essentially therefore, the ALIEP is an accelerated educational programme which enables learners to finish six years of compulsory basic education in four years (32 months). Most importantly, the programme has been instrumental in reducing illiteracy over the years. For example, between 2001 and 2008, the total rate of illiteracy dropped from 11% to 7,7%. During the same period, illiteracy rates for females and males dropped from 16,2% to 11,4% and 5,6% to 4,1%, respectively.
Teaching of Learners
Teaching is based on a remedial teaching approach which recognizes and builds on the learners’ past learning experiences. To this end, programme facilitators employ innovative teaching-learning strategies such as group work, individual mentoring, in order to ensure the sustainability of both the learner’s acquired literacy skills as well as to encourage learners to continue attending classes.
Apart from formal enrolment of adult learners at the centres, the programme employs two innovative teaching-learning approaches that are intended to encourage sustainable education of adult learners.
One such innovative strategy is the Home-Based Studies Programme (HBSP) which is intended to encourage learners who dropped-out of the formal school system to continue their education or training through home-based self-learning. The HBSP is based on the formal education curricula and as such, learners are eligible to sit for the official General Secondary Certificate Examinations (GSCE). Those who pass the GSCE are encouraged to enrol for further studies, either by continuing to study under the HBSP or by rejoining the formal education system. The HBSP has been a resounding success as the table below indicates:
The second training approach is the Evening Studies programme. Like the HBSP, the evening studies method is intended to create learning opportunities for socially disadvantaged people who dropped-out of the formal education system and may have day-time labour obligations to fulfil. Under the programme, classes are conducted at adult learning centres during the evenings to serve learners who want to continue their education after the basic literacy stage and from the seventh grade to secondary level. The results of the Evening Studies programme have been impressive over the years as shown in the table below:
Programme Impact and Challenges
Monitoring and Evaluation
The MoE, through the Non-formal Education Division, has the sole responsibility of monitoring and evaluating the programme on an ongoing basis. To this end, the MoE has appointed field-based educational supervisors. These supervisors undertake periodic field visits to adult learning centres in their region and have the responsibility of monitoring and regulating the learning process at the centres as well as offering technical assistance or advise to teachers or facilitators in order ensure that the learning process is in line the Ministry’s policies and strategies.
Impact and Achievements
The ALIEP has made immense contributions towards national development in general and in particular, towards the empowerment of underprivileged people by improving literacy rates. Through a strategy of training a network of adult education teachers, the programme has created a pool of competent, well-qualified and highly trained workforce that is now spearheading community development activities.
With regards to educational development, the programme has created learning opportunities for socially disadvantaged adults and thus helped to solve the problem of illiteracy, unemployment and limited productivity among this target group. It has also created equal life-long learning opportunities for all citizens in the Kingdom who are now able to continue with their education by enrolling in various adult learning centres that have been established across the country or through home-based self-learning. Equally and perhaps more importantly, the programme has created more educational opportunities for women who often have limited access to education due to entrenched socio-cultural practices. Thus, for example, whereas 455 males were enrolled into the 19 adult learning centres that were established in 2007-2008, 6002 females were enrolled into 412 adult female learning centres that were established over the same period. Overall, the programme has enabled Kingdom of Jordan to combat the scourge of illiteracy as well as to move close to achieving the internationally sanctioned “Education for All” goals.
Moreover, the programme has enabled the Kingdom to create strong synergies between the formal and non-formal education systems. The integration of the two systems has enabled learners from the non-formal sector to eventually rejoin and gain qualifications that are administered and sanctioned by the State just like as it is for learners following the formal education system. This integration has enabled hitherto disadvantaged people to gain equivalent qualifications with their counterparts in the formal education sector, an approach which has enabled the former to effectively participate in the cultural, economic and social development of the Kingdom like every other citizen.
The programme also has concrete social benefits as it focuses on both individuals and their societies by emphasizing, for example, health, community building, environmental, culture and religious subjects which are central to people’s everyday lives. These subjects equip learners with social skills necessary not only for peaceful co-existence and non-violent conflict resolution or management but also for community development and poverty reduction.
At an individual level, the programme enhances the learner’s self-esteem (social standing), personality, and ability to undertake more viable economic activities; the latter helps them to accomplish their roles as parents or adults in society. It also helps to ameliorate the social stigma and incapacity to function independently that illiterate people often face. The benefits of the programme at an individual level are aptly highlighted by the case of Haya Fares Al-Awadat who enrolled in one of the adults' learning and literacy centres at the beginners’ stage but went on to obtain bachelor’s degree in Special Education. Currently, she is working as the manager of the Handicapped Centre in Al-Hussinya county in Ma'an Province. Success cases like the one sighted above are many and therefore serve to show that adult education programmes can and are indeed a vehicle for upward socio-economic mobility.
Despite its achievements, the programme is also bedevilled with a number of challenges. These include:
- The programme is a broad and to some extend ambitious as it has been extended nationally. This has stretched financial resources and trained personnel for the implementation of the programme. For example, the teachers have often received little induction and follow-up professional training in adult education while the curricula and text books need to be reviewed from time to time. These challenges have tended to undermine the results scored by learners in official examinations and therefore indicate the need for improved investment into adult education.
- Retaining trained teachers has also proved to be a great challenge because the wages are low. As a result, the programme is regularly recruiting new teachers who, invariably lack skills and experience in dealing with adult learners.
- Drop-outs: some learners often drop-out and then rejoin the programme due to economic reasons such as poverty and the difficulty of balancing family responsibility with attending classes. Others drop-out during peak agricultural seasons or important religious periods. There is therefore a need to realign the adult literacy learning calendar with their socio-economic activities or seasons.
- There is also shortages of buildings that could easily be converted into adult learning centres while those that have been established lack basic amenities such as heating in winter and meals for learners from deprived social backgrounds. To compound the situation, the shortages of building has often forced programme implementers to mix learners at different learning levels in one class which, needless to say, hinders the teaching process. Lack of reliable transport to centres is also a further challenge faced by both learners and teachers.
- Adult literacy programme should continue to be treated as a matter of urgency because there is a strong need to promote continuous education for functionally literate adults as this the only way that the Kingdoms’ human capacity base can be maintained and further developed,
- Community sensitization programme are critical in order to motivate learners to enrol in and not to drop-out from adult classes,
- There is urgent need to improve the professional competencies of adult teachers and facilitators through appropriate and continuous training. Specialized teacher training is particularly needed to cater for adult-learners with special needs or disabilities,
- The curricula and teaching materials should also be improved in line with the general developmental trends in the country so that learners can be able to derive sustainable value from the programme,
- The programme’s national outreach and effectiveness could also be expanded through the use of the media (TV, radio and newspapers) and ICT as the medium of instruction,
- Given the fact that women and girls constitute the majority (91%) of programme participants, there is also urgent need to train more female adult education teachers and facilitators to cater for this group of learners as well as to develop curricula that best meets their needs as women.
- As adults are more concerned to satisfy and attain more practical skills, it is important for the adult literacy programme to have a strong component of vocational training.
The long-term sustainability of the programme is not in doubt because, first and foremost, the Kingdom through the MoE is highly committed to the literacy challenge nationally. To this end, the non-formal educational sector has continued to receive sustained technical and financial support from the government. The Kingdom has also signed agreements with key international stakeholders such as UNESCO, ISESCO and ALECSO which has ensured the sustainability of most educational programmes.
Secondly, most learners are strongly self-motivated to resume and continue with their studies in order to, for example, enhance their ability to read and understand the Holy Quraan. As such, there is strong community support for and commitment to ensure the success of adult learning programmes.
- USAID in Jordan
- Jordan Times Thursday, January 8, 2009 Kingdom’s illiteracy rate drops to 7.9 per cent in 2008
- The Development of Education: National Report for Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Report Presented to the 48th Session of Education, Geneva (October 2008)
- Dr. Muna Mu'tamen, The Comprehensive Evaluation Study of Illiteracy Elimination Programme in Jordan.
- The National Report on Adult Education in Jordan: Presented to the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education 2009
Mr. Abdullah Al-Naser
Position: Head of Non-formal Education Division
Phone: mobile: 00962-777553067
Email contact: User: abdullah.al-naser
Host: (at) moe.gov.jo
Last update: 3 February 2012