Family Literacy Programmes (FLPs)

Country Profile: Turkey

Population

73,640,000 (2011)

Poverty (Population living on less than 2 USD per day)

5% (2010)

Official language

Turkish

Other spoken languages

Kurmanji, Zaza, Arabic, Laz

Total youth literacy rate (15–24 years, 2011)

Total: 98.6%
Male: 99.4%
Female: 97.9%

Adult literacy rate (15 years and over, 2011)

Total: 94.1%
Male: 97.9%
Female: 90.3%

Statistical sources

Programme Overview

Programme TitleFamily Literacy Programmes
Implementing OrganizationMother-Child Education Foundation (AÇEV)
Language of InstructionTurkish
Programme PartnersUNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP, European Commission, World Bank, government (through the Ministries of National Education and Health), media groups (TRT, NTV, Kanal D) and local NGOs.
Date of Inception1993

Context and Background

Turkey has made impressive progress in the provision of access to education for all over the past few years. As of 2006, primary school attendance for children aged 6-15 years was 91%, while the total literacy rate for male and female youth and adults was 90% and 70% respectively. These gains are partly a result of the provision of public and free formal and non-formal education by the state. NGOs have also successfully complemented state education programmes.

Nonetheless, numerous challenges remain, particularly with regards to access to Early Childhood Education (ECE) and basic adult education for socially marginalised groups. Recent studies suggest that only 23%, 33.4% and 51% of children aged 3-6, 4-6 and 5-6 respectively benefit from ECE, while those in extremely marginalised communities have virtually no access to ECE at all since such services are often available in large cities. Furthermore, although the rate at which girls and women are accessing basic and higher education is on the increase, the gender disparity with regards to access to education remains significantly high in most marginalised communities due to long-standing socio-cultural practices such as early marriage or, in the case of poor families, the tendency to educate male rather than female children.

The continued neglect of ECE has long-term, negative impacts on the future development of the nation. Studies have demonstrated that lack of access to quality ECE in children’s formative years undermines their psycho-social (cognitive, emotional, personality, etc.) development and, by extension, their potential to succeed in the education system. This, in turn, robs the nation of a critical mass of human capital necessary for development. In light of this, it is therefore imperative to institutionalise ECE, particularly among socially marginalised groups.

However, for ECE programmes to be effective, efforts should also be made to develop adult literacy/education programmes in order to enhance parents' capacity to effectively perform their duties as the children's first educators as well as their ability to support their children in pursuing an education. Studies have also revealed that parents, particularly mothers, have a profound effect on the psycho-social development of children. As such, children with educated parents are more likely to receive positive support and, in turn, be higher educational achievers. In response to the gaps identified in the Turkish education system (especially the lack of ECE services) and the link between adult education, ECE and children’s development, The Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV) – a national NGO founded in 1993 – instituted the integrated and intergenerational Family Literacy Programmes (FLPs) in an effort to provide universal access to education and thus combat structural social inequalities.

Family Literacy Programmes (FLPs)

FLPs are integrated and intergenerational programmes which provide families from poor and marginalised areas of Turkey with ECE and adult literacy/education training. Through the FLPs, AÇEV endeavours to:

Over the years and through concerted scientific research and strategic partnerships with local and international institutions of higher education, such as Harvard University and the Synergos Institute, AÇEV has refined the FLPs into its two main constituent components: ECE and adult education. These are in turn sub-divided as follows:

Early Childhood Education Programmes (ECEPs)

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Adult Education Programmes

AÇEV also undertakes other literacy/educational advocacy initiatives, including the "7 Is Too Late" and the EU-funded "Raising Women: Reducing Gender Disparity in Education" campaigns, as well as educational TV and radio broadcasts.

Essentially, therefore, FLPs are primarily concerned with creating a social environment supportive of the holistic, psycho-social development of children by providing entire families with low-cost alternatives to formal education and training. Since its foundation and through the FLPs, AÇEV has trained 5,000 educators and served 411,000 children and their parents through face-to-face instruction. A further 36,000,000 people have benefited from TV and radio-based educational programmes and the production and distribution of educational materials. In addition, its advocacy campaigns have been instrumental in persuading the government to introduce compulsory free education. AÇEV's approaches to education and training have proven so successful that FLPs have been adopted in other countries such as Belgium, Germany, France, Holland, Bahrain, Jordan and the Palestine Autonomous Territories (PAT). In order to fully comprehend the interconnectedness and contribution of the constituent projects of FLPs towards combating illiteracy, this report analyses MOCEP and FALP in greater detail.

The Mother-Child Education Programme (MOCEP)

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MOCEP is an intergenerational, culturally-sensitive and home-based ECE and adult education/literacy development programme which targets socially disadvantaged children (aged 5 to 6 years) with limited access to formal pre-school education and their mothers, many of whom are illiterate or semi-literate. It emerged from two decades of scientific and action-based research undertaken by AÇEV with professional assistance from Boğaziçi University. MOCEP was developed in response to the lack of pre-school services in marginalised communities and thus seeks to foster the holistic, psycho-social (cognitive, emotional, social, physical, etc.) development of pre-school children through appropriate ECE and training. As a home-based programme, MOCEP was developed using an environmental approach to child development and education. This approach recognises the critical role of children’s social environment in fostering optimal child psycho-social development. As such, MOCEP endeavours to support families (mothers) and child development through appropriate literacy training.

Aims and Objectives

MOCEP aims to:

In order to achieve these goals as well as to be effective and sustainable, MOCEP focuses on three interlinked and theme-based training areas:

Programme Implementation: Approaches and Methodologies

MOCEP is implemented by AÇEV in collaboration with the Ministry of National Education (MoNE, General Directorate of Apprenticeship and Non-formal Education). Learning is conducted at Adult/Public Education Centres (A/PECs) across Turkey by a network of teachers and social workers who are trained in ECE and adult literacy/education by AÇEV and MoNE. The facilitators are also responsible for managing and coordinating centre-based learning activities. AÇEV provides trainers with ongoing and on-the-job follow-up training, mentoring and supervision in order to enhance programme effectiveness.

Mothers attend weekly literacy classes for a period of 25 weeks (six months). In addition, programme facilitators undertake home visits to provide further individualised literacy learning assistance to participating families and consolidate mothers' acquired parenting and literacy skills. This, in turn, increases their ability to act as the first educators of their children.

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Although different teaching-learning approaches are employed, MOCEP emphasises interactive and participatory methodologies in order to encourage learners to learn from each other. For example, for the Reproductive Health and Family Planning and Mother Enrichment programmes, groups of 20 to 25 mothers attend weekly, three-hour adult education sessions during which they engage in active and socially-relevant group discussions and role plays. Mothers are also expected to apply their acquired skills in real-life situations (i.e. in the home), a process which enables AÇEV to monitor programme effectiveness through feedback provided during class discussions.

Additionally, mothers are encouraged to participate in the learning process (both in classes and at home) and thus to assist their children in various learning activities including book reading and story telling; letter or word recognition through sounds and images; recognition of colours and shapes; and discussion-based problem-solving skills. These activities stimulate intergenerational learning and positive parent-child communication and relations. Furthermore they provide children with emotional security and the scaffolding necessary for progressive development and effective learning. Overall, encouraging mothers to learn together with their children enhances the literacy skills acquisition process for both.

Impact/Achievements of MOCEP

MOCEP is one of the most successful components of the Family Literacy Programmes and has, as a result, attracted significant attention as an innovative and effective ECE and adult literacy/education programme. Accordingly, several academic and evaluation studies (see below) have been undertaken to see how the programme has contributed towards child and adult literacy development and harness the results to learn from and improve the programme. In addition, the adoption of the approach by other nations provides further evidence of its effectiveness and adaptability to different contexts. Evaluation studies have demonstrated that MOCEP has been critical in fostering optimal child psycho-social development, as well as child and adult literacy. Key indicators of the impact of MOCEP are as follows:

Functional Adult Literacy and Women's Support Programme (FALP)

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Women constitute two thirds of the more than five million illiterate adults in Turkey. Functional illiteracy and the lack of livelihood skills severely restrict women's ability to participate in family and community development or help their children gain an education. In light of this, AÇEV initiated the Functional Adult Literacy and Women's Support Programme (FALP) in 1995. FALP is a functional literacy development programme which targets illiterate women (aged 15 years and above) living in socially disadvantaged (low-income) communities. The programme is provided free of charge and provides women with literacy skills training designed to enable them to participate in the socio-economic development processes of their families and communities and thereby improve their social standing. It also aims to raise women’s awareness of the socio-political and economic rights and issues that directly affect them as women and parents. To this end, the FALP focuses on the following thematic areas:

FALP has been strengthened by the inclusion of the EU-funded project entitled "Raising Women: Reducing Gender Disparity in Education".

Implementation of FALP

The implementation of FALP involves the active collaboration of various actors, including MoNE, NGOs and local communities. This collaboration has been instrumental in enabling AÇEV to extend FALP’s coverage nationwide, as it has enabled it to reduce operational costs by drawing on both private and public resources, such as the buildings where classes are conducted. FALP is approved and certified by the MoNE and as a result, AÇEV offers literacy certificates to adult learners who have successfully completed a course of training. This has provided women with an added incentive to participate in FALP.

Training of Trainers

FALP training activities are conducted by Volunteer Literacy Trainers (VLT), all of whom must have completed high school. AÇEV provides VLTs with intensive training in adult literacy over a period of two-and-a-half weeks. Adult educators also receive on-going technical support and mentoring from AÇEV. In order to boost their working morale, VLTs receive certificates (for adult educators) which are certified by the MoNE. To date, AÇEV has collaborated with 3,090 volunteer trainers in the context of its literacy training programmes.

Teaching-Learning Approaches and Methods

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FALP learners are mobilised and recruited through the collective efforts of local primary schools, village leaders and/or Public Education Centres. Thereafter, learners are divided into groups of 20 to 25 and attend literacy classes three times a week over a four-month period. Literacy classes last three hours for a total of 120 learning hours. 80 hours of supplementary classes are also provided. In addition to the formal classes, AÇEV has also initiated the Reading Days Project (RDP) for FALP graduates in order to reinforce and further develop women’s acquired literacy skills. The RDP is also intended to encourage women to continue learning independently. VLTs assist women participating in RDPs by providing them with additional literacy tutorials at weekends.

Most of the teaching and learning methods employed by FALP are participatory and interactive. They encourage learners to participate actively in lessons, which are structured non-hierarchically and designed to enable learners to draw on their cultural backgrounds and prior knowledge. FALP volunteer teachers differ from their counterparts in the formal education system. They act as guides whose responsibility it is to make the learning process as easy as possible for participants, and to maintain equality within the group. The programme is divided into 25 topic-based units spread over 120 hours and the teaching-learning approach used has a number of key characteristics:

Interaction between instructors and beneficiaries is based on mutual respect and trust; hence it is important for instructors to familiarise themselves with their participants’ characteristics, needs, goals and aspirations.

Teaching-Learning Materials

The basic teaching and learning manuals have been produced and revised by professionals over the years. These materials are intended to progressively foster the development of literacy and comprehension skills among adults. FALP is based on three books that have been developed to complement each other:

Impact/Achievements of FALP

Evaluation studies have revealed that FALP has been instrumental in combating illiteracy among adult women. To date, over 85,000 young girls and women have directly benefited and most have developed better reading, writing and critical thinking skills than graduates of mainstream adult literacy courses. Additionally, participating in FALP has improved female learners’ social status, autonomy, self-esteem and family cohesion. As a result, women are increasingly participating in decisions, family matters and community-building as the following testimonies reveal:

"I wouldn’t go to the parent meetings. I was very ashamed in front of the other parents as I couldn’t sign the attendance list. There was a parent meeting at my son’s school today. As the meeting finished, they asked us to write our names and sign. I was proud to have written it. I was very happy. My friends noticed that my hands were trembling from the excitement."

"As I got on the bus, I would shyly ask the driver if the bus passed through where I wanted to go. I would never know at which stop I should get off. Now I can read the bus numbers. I can go wherever I want, without asking anyone."

"I couldn’t go to the hospital alone before. As I couldn’t read, I couldn’t find the department of the hospital that I needed to visit. I was afraid to ask… Now I can find the hospital departments without asking anyone. First I check the entrance to see which floor I need and which way I should go, and then when I get to the right place, I read the door plates."

"My greatest wish was to learn phone numbers. When somebody gave me their number I couldn’t write it and I felt miserable. Yesterday I got a phone call. They wanted to talk with my husband. I said that he wasn’t at home and wrote their phone number down. I am so happy."

"Before, I couldn’t go out alone. When I went somewhere, I had to take someone with me. Now I can go everywhere by myself. I gained self-confidence. My son joined the army. I came to this course so I could write to him. Yesterday I sent my first letter to him. He will be very surprised. I am very happy."

FALP has also enabled women to actively participate in and contribute towards the development of their families and communities, as well as to lead more independent lives. In addition, women are more enlightened about their reproductive health and civic rights, and more aware of the need to provide their daughters with access to education. Overall, FALP has improved women’s self-confidence, self-esteem and status within their communities.

Challenges

Sustainability

AÇEV remains committed to providing disadvantaged women and girls with educational opportunities. It is also committed to reaching larger numbers of illiterates and is working to employ television as a new and important teaching medium. AÇEV will also continue to work with the Ministry of Education to develop and improve national education policies with regard to literacy.

Furthermore, AÇEV is working on improving volunteer recruitment and retention strategies through awareness-raising and marketing campaigns. In order to reach more illiterates, television will be used as an additional teaching tool, as well as a number of other models that employ distance and face-to-face learning techniques. AÇEV also aims to intensify its post-literacy activities and increase the variety of volunteer work, one-to-one tutoring and reading groups.

Lessons Learned

Mutually beneficial partnerships with academics, public and private groups are essential to improving adult literacy programmes as well as maximizing resource usage. AÇEV collaborates with public and private bodies to reach a larger number of beneficiaries. AÇEV’s primary partner is the Ministry of Education’s Non-formal and Apprenticeship Directorate, which provides certification, administrative support and physical space. AÇEV also partners with local NGOs who provide volunteers to be trained by AÇEV, physical space for courses or mobilise beneficiaries and communities. International and national NGOs and private companies provide funding for the implementation of courses. By tapping into existing resources such as public facilities and volunteer training initiatives, AÇEV has been able to reduce its operational costs without compromising programme quality.

Sources

Contact

Deniz Senocak
AÇEV
Büyükdere cad. Stad Han. No: 85/2
Mecidiyeköy
34387
Istanbul
Turkey
E-mail: Ödeniz.senocak (at) acev.org

Last update: 15 July 2010