Al-Taleem Al-Mowazy (Parallel Learning) Non-Formal Literacy and Education Programme
Country Profile: Palestine
3,900,000 (2008 estimate; it is also estimated that as of 2003, 1,068,885 Palestinians were living in Israel)
Arabic (Hebrew and English also spoken by many)
|Poverty (Population living on less than US$1 per day):|
60% (2003 estimate)
|Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)|
|Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)|
|Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2004)|
|Net Enrolment Ratio (NER) in Primary Education|
|Programme Title||Al-Taleem Al-Mowazy (Parallel Learning) Non-Formal Literacy and Education Programme|
|Implementing Organization||Ministry of Education & Higher Education (MoEHE), through the Department of Non-Formal Education (DNFE)|
|Language of Instruction||Arabic|
|Programme Partners||UN Agencies (UNESCO, UNICEF); The Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO); The Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO); The Palestinian National Authority (PNA), through the Ministry of Education & Higher Education (MoEHE)|
|Date of Inception||2003 –|
Background and Context
The long-standing and ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict has had severe socio-economic impacts on the Palestinian Territories. These include: high levels of poverty (more than 60% of the population live below the poverty line of US$2 per day); high unemployment rates (more than 50%, rising to about 68% in the Gaza Strip); and a lack of access to basic social amenities and services. Consequently, more than 70% of the population is dependant on international aid. In addition, the destruction of the physical infrastructure, as well as the disruption of normal life and services such as education have continuously posed major barriers to human resources development. As a result, there is a critical local shortage of the human skills and expertise needed to enable sustainable nation building and development.
In light of this, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) – acting through the Ministries of Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC) and Education & Higher Education (MoEHE) – has prioritised human resources development by promoting access to quality education for all children and non-formal literacy and education programmes for youths and adults. This concerted strategy is intended to build local capacity in order to promote sustainable socio-economic development, social empowerment and poverty alleviation. The ongoing Al-Taleem Al-Mowazy (Parallel Learning) Non-Formal Literacy and Education Programme being implemented by the MoEHE through the Division of Non-Formal Education exemplifies the overall developmental efforts in the Territories.
The Al-Taleem Al-Mowazy (Parallel Learning) Non-Formal Literacy and Education Programme
The MoEHE has made concerted efforts to build an inclusive educational system that responds to the socio-economic, cultural and developmental needs of Palestinians and thus enables them to participate effectively in national development. Since 2003, the MoEHE has been implementing the Al-Taleem Al-Mowazy Non-Formal Literacy and Education Programme (Al-Taleem), which primarily targets out-of-school youth and children (i.e. those who drop out of school after the first four years) as well as youth and adults (aged 13 to 40 years) who fail to continue with formal education due to the difficult circumstances that prevail in the Palestinian Territories.
Aims and Objectives
The Al-Taleem programme aims to:
- increase access to quality literacy training and education in order to reduce the levels of illiteracy in the country;
- promote nation-building and development, social empowerment and poverty alleviation through functional literacy and life skills training; and
- improve livelihoods opportunities and living standards through functional literacy training.
A number of key actors, including the MoEHE, the Ministry of Labour, the Tamer Institute for Community Education, the University of Bir Zeit and several Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), were actively involved in designing and developing the Al-Taleem programme curriculum. This cooperation was intended to enable the programme to capture and reflect the country’s diverse literacy and educational needs, with the aim of promoting development both at the individual and at the national level. The programme currently focuses on the following subjects:
- Arabic language
- General culture
- Computer (ICT) studies
- Religious education
- Technical education
- English as a second language (introduced in 2009).
The programme is divided into two levels and is undertaken over two years (with each level lasting 10 months). At the end of level two, students sit a Comprehensive Examination. Those who achieve a pass (50% and over) are awarded a certificate which is equivalent to the 9th grade in the formal system and therefore qualifies them to join the formal secondary education system.
Programme Implementation and Methodologies
Recruitment of Facilitators and Learners
At the inception of the programme in 2003, 50 facilitators (mostly qualified and formally employed teachers) were recruited and trained in non-formal education teaching methods, programme curriculum content, adult learning psychology and communication, and educational assessment and evaluation. 30 facilitators were deployed to learning centres in the West Bank (Ramallah) while 20 are based in Gaza. The facilitators are employed on a full-time basis, working 42 hours per week and receiving a stipend of US$8 per lesson.
Learners join the programme by registering with their local district officials. Classes begin once 15 learners have registered. Participants' motivation to enrol into the programmes derives from several factors:
- Education is generally regarded as the fundamental prerequisite not only for individual success and well-being but also for the achievement of sustainable national development and peace.
- The Ministry of Transport stipulates that all those applying for a driver’s licence must have a ninth-grade certificate, which is awarded to successful programme graduates.
- People need to be able to conduct basic and everyday activities independently, such as reading the Quran and taking medication.
A total of 287 students have already graduated from the programme since 2003, while 120 have enrolled for the 2009 academic year:
Number of participants (2003-2009)
The programme takes two full years or four semesters to complete, with each semester lasting five months. As the table below indicates, each subject in the curriculum is accorded an average of 20 hours of teaching/learning time each semester. At the end of the second year (fourth semester), learners sit examinations in all of the subjects studied. Those who pass the examination are awarded a certificate which is equivalent to the ninth grade in the formal primary school system. With this certificate, graduates are able to join formal secondary classes, enrol in vocational and technical training programmes and obtain a driver's licence.
Programme Impact and Challenges
- The Al-Taleem programme has provided many young people and adults with opportunities to resume and continue their education within a learner-friendly framework. In particular, the programme has been of tremendous assistance to women, whose opportunities to study have been limited by familial responsibilities, insecurity and the long distances they used to have to travel to attend learning centres. This has, in turn, enhanced the capacity of and thus empowered women to contribute to family subsistence through income-generating activities as well as to assist their children with school work.
- The participation of adults in the programme has also encouraged children to enrol and stay in school despite the challenges outlined above.
- From an institutional perspective, the programme effectively demonstrates the willingness of the PNA to promote the development of its people as well as nation-building.
- Due to insufficient funding and a lack of resources, the Al-Taleem programme has been poorly marketed, resulting in fewer than expected learners enrolling into the programme. In addition, these insufficient resources have hindered efforts to ascertain the long-term impact of the programme as well as to entrench the literacy and technical skills acquired by learners. The lack of follow-up has also created a discontinuity in the provision of training services; as a result, learners' motivation to obtain an education is not being supported and transformed into a lifelong learning process.
- The lack of advanced literacy programmes has also frustrated learners who wished to advance to a higher level of learning and/or training.
- Learners taking vocational and technical classes have had little practical training. As a result, most find it difficult to apply their knowledge and skills in a working environment where practical skills are necessary.
- The programme suffers from high drop-out rates due to a combination of: psychological pressure generated by the prevailing situation in the Palestinian Territories; the tendency for female learners to marry early; insecurity and the destruction of infrastructure, especially in Gaza; and the need to contribute towards family subsistence.
- High rates of unemployment have led to the erosion of acquired vocational skills.
In order to promote long-term reconstruction and sustainable development in the Palestinian Territories, there is a pressing need to facilitate the training of local manpower. As a result, it is paramount to support non-formal literacy and education programmes that cater for people whose educational progress is consistently being disrupted by the ongoing conflict. In addition, there is also a need to market such programmes among the local population. Accordingly, the MoEHE has planned to undertake a concerted advocacy campaign aimed at mobilising local communities to enrol in literacy and adult education courses. Plans are also underway to recruit more adult education facilitators and supervisors, and offer them professional training and better working conditions. In addition, in order to enhance the effectiveness of adult education programmes, universities have been encouraged to include adult education in their programmes and assist the MoEHE in designing and developing a comprehensive adult literacy and education curriculum that specifically addresses the country’s needs. The success of these programmes depends on the availability of secure and sustainable funding, and potential donors are currently being lobbied.
There is need to integrate and create synergies between formal and non-formal education systems in order to enable graduates from non-formal literacy and education programmes to pursue their studies at a more advanced level. More practical lessons are needed to enable learners to gain appropriate practical experience. More also needs to be done to incorporate technical education into the formal system.
- UNRWA: Programmes: Education
- AsiaNews, 25 July, 2008, More than a third of Gaza residents living below the poverty line
- World Bank Report, 5 March 2003, World Bank: 60 percent poverty level in Palestinian territories
Head Division of Non-formal Education
Ministry of Education and Higher Education
Tel.: +970 2983205
E-mail: User: gfannoun
Host: (at) gmail.com
Last update: 14 December 2009