National Literacy Campaign

Country Profile: Nepal

Population

29,331,000

Official Language

Nepali (regional languages: Maithili, Nepal Bhasa, Bhojpuri, Tharu, Gurung, Tamang, Magar, Awadhi, Sherpa, Kiranti, Limbu, etc.)

Poverty (Population living on less than 1 USD per day)

55%

Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP

2.9

Primary School Net Enrolment/Attendance

84% (2003–2008)

Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)

70% (1995–2004)

Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2005)

Total: 49%
Male: 63%
Female: 35%

Sources

Programme Overview

Programme TitleNational Literacy Campaign (NLC)
Implementing OrganizationNon-Formal Education Centre, (NFEC)
Language of Instructionbilingual (Nepali and other local languages
Programme PartnersGovernment of Nepal (through the Ministry of Education)
Date of Inception2008

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Context and Background

Nepal is one of the least developed countries in South Asia, with an economy that is largely dependant on agricultural production and the processing of agricultural products. The agricultural sector accounts for about 40% of Nepal’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs over 76% of its total workforce. As a result, about a third of Nepal’s population – mostly from rural and semi-urban areas – live in absolute poverty with limited access to basic amenities, livelihood and educational opportunities. In addition, the massive destruction of socio-economic infrastructure coupled with the large-scale population displacement and the extensive military conscription of children and youth during Nepal’s protracted civil war (1996 - 2006) not only further impeded the country’s economic development and increased levels of poverty but also deprived many Nepalese of educational opportunities. Similarly, entrenched socio-cultural practices which discriminate against women, ethno-religious minorities and low caste groups as well as the general lack of educational resources in marginalised communities also continue to deprive many poor Nepalese of access to basic education.

Concerted efforts by the State and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to address this anomaly and, in particular, to enable socially disadvantaged and marginalised groups to have equal access to basic education through various educational programmes such as the PEP (1980), Community Learning Centres (CLCs) Programme, the Basic and Primary Education Project (BPEP 1992 - 2004), the EPF (2000) and the Education for all National Plan of Action (EFANPA, 2001-2015) have been partially successful. According to a national census (2001), about eight million Nepalese aged between 15 and 60 years were functionally illiterate as of 2001. The national census further revealed that illiteracy rates were (and still remains) particularly high among women (65%), low caste groups or Dalits (73%) and ethnic minorities or Janajatis (53%). Overall, UNESCO has estimated that about half (51%) of Nepal’s adult population was illiterate as of 1995 to 2005 (see adult literacy rates above). Thus, in an effort to promote universal access to basic education and socio-economic development, the government of Nepal – through the Non-Formal Education Centre (NFEC) – instituted the National Literacy Campaign (NLC) in 2008.

The National Literacy Campaign (NLC)

The NLC is an extensive and integrated non-formal educational programme which primarily targets illiterate and semi-literate people (aged between 15 and 60 years) from socio-economically disadvantaged and marginalised communities. The programme is currently being implemented across the entire nation within the context of the Education For All National Plan of Action (EFANPA, 2001-2015). The fundamental goal of the NLC is to provide basic literacy and life skills training to about three million out-of-school youth and adults per year in order to empower them to be self-reliant. To this end, the NLC provides participants or learners with contextually appropriate life skills training in a range of subjects including:

The adoption of such an integrated curriculum is primarily intended to boost attendance and minimise participant dropouts from the programme. This also allows the campaign to cater for the diverse needs of learners, a majority of whom are more interested in acquiring practical life skills that would enable them to improve their living standards.

Aims and Objectives

According to the government of Nepal, the fundamental goals of the NLC are to promote universal access to basic education and, most importantly, “to eradicate illiteracy in the country within two years” in order to achieve the national EFA goals by 2015 as outlined in the Dakar Framework for Action. More specifically, the NLC also endeavours to:

Programme Implementation: Approaches and Methodologies

Institutional Partnerships

As in other countries, the implementation of community-based non-formal educational programmes in Nepal is invariably encumbered by the lack of human and financial resources as well as by the lack of coordination between stakeholders. In order to circumvent these challenges and ensure the effective and sustainable implementation of the NLC, the NFEC has established functional partnerships with various key stakeholders including NGOs, local municipalities, District and Village Development Committees (DDCs / VDCs) and youth and women’s associations (i.e. Community-Based Organisations – CBOs). Apart from advising the NFEC in the design and development of the programme, these institutions have also been entrusted with the overall responsibility of ensuring the efficient implementation of the NLC at the community level. Accordingly, their main functions include establishing and managing Community Learning Centres (CLCs; in total, about 45 500 CLCs have been established through-out the country since the inception of the programme in 2008), coordinating the recruitment and training of programme facilitators and mobilising community members to participate in the programme.

Development of Teaching-Learning Materials

In order to facilitate the efficient and sustainable implementation of the NLC, the NFEC with support from various stakeholders has developed various illustrative teaching-learning materials for use by learners and programme facilitators or trainers. The reading materials have been translated into nine major local languages in order to cater for the various linguistic groups of participants. Overall, the teaching-learning package that is provided to learners is comprised of:

Recruitment and Training of Facilitators

The actual implementation of the NLC is heavily dependant on a cohort of about 100 000 community-based volunteer trainers or facilitators, most of whom are youths with a School Leaving Certificate (SLC). The volunteer trainers work under the supervision of young Higher Secondary School graduates. A few professionals such as local health workers and agricultural extension officers have also been recruited to assist the volunteers in providing specialised training to participants.

In addition to providing basic skills training to programme participants, the volunteers are also responsible for recruiting (mobilising) new learners through community-based literacy advocacy or awareness campaigns. The NFEC and its partners have produced literacy campaign leaflets for use by trainers in their literacy advocacy and community mobilisation activities.

As noted above, an over-whelming majority of the volunteer trainers have lower educational qualifications and no professional training or practical experience in non-formal educational practices. In light of this and in order to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the NLC, the NFEC provides the volunteer trainers with on-going technical training and mentoring in non-formal educational practices, including:

Once trained, each volunteer is tasked to teach a class of between 20 and 30 learners over a period of three months. The trainers are paid a monthly stipend of NPRs 2000 (US$28).

Teaching-Learning Approaches and Methods

NLC participants are obliged to attend literacy and life skills training classes for six days a week (two hours per day) over a period of three months. Classes are mostly conducted at the CLCs but in very few instances and often in response to some learners’ requests, trainers also conduct home-visits to offer specialised assistance to learners and or their families. In either case, trainers are obliged to employ participatory teaching-learning methods including group discussions and debates.

Programme Impact and Challenges

Impact

The NLC programme has made some positive and indeed impressive contributions towards community development, poverty alleviation, social empowerment, and creation of literate environments across the entire nation. The major impacts of the programme include:

It is in light of these impressive achievements that the programme was awarded the UNESCO Confucius Literacy Award 2010, three years after its inception.

Challenges

Although the NLC is being supported by the State, its full and effective implementation has been impeded by a critical shortage of financial, material and human resources. For instance, while the government provides about 17% of its total budget to the Ministry of Education, only 1.4 % of this budget goes to the non-formal education sector. Financial and resources constraints have also been exacerbated by the fact that the NLC is, according to many critics, an over-ambitious programme. Most critics have, for example, argued that targeting to train about three million Nepalese in two years was practically impossible not only because this over-stretched the little available resources but also because it compromised the quality of training services provided to the people given that most trainers are secondary school graduates who are therefore technically ill-equipped for such a huge task.

Sustainability

The long-term sustainability of the NLC hinges on several critical factors including:

Sources

Contact

The Acting Director Mr. Jibachh Mishra
Ministry of Education and Sports (Non-Formal Education Centre - NFEC)
Telephone: 00977-9849361313
Fax: 00977-1-4331535
Email: mishrajibachh (at) hotmail.com Web site: