Literacy and Community Development Programme (LCDP)
Country Profile: Viet Nam
86,116,559 (2008 estimate)
Vietnamese (other common languages: Thái, Tày, Mường, Khmer, Chăm, Chinese, Nùng, H'Mông, French and English)
|Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)|
|Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)|
|Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2005)|
Total: 90% Male: 94% Female: 87%
|Programme Title||Literacy and Community Development Programme (LCDP)|
|Implementing Organization||Action Aid Vietnam (AAV)|
|Language of Instruction||Participants’ mother tongue|
|Funding||Action Aid and European Commission (EC)|
|Date of Inception||2000|
Context and Background
Vietnam has achieved significant results in education. In addition to net enrolment rates of over 90% in primary education, the total national literacy rate is also high, at 90.3% and 94% for adults and youth (24 years and above) respectively. Yet despite the impressive progress, there are still gender, regional and ethnic disparities in access to education and in literacy rates. For example, there is a huge number of illiterate and re-illiterate people over the age of 35, most of them living in remote areas and from ethnic minorities or women. As a result, the rate of illiteracy in remote areas makes up more than 35% of the national total yet they are only 13.5% of the national population. Illiteracy rates are particularly high among ethnic minorities and women. Illiteracy stands at 75% and 88% among ethnic Dao and H’mong communities respectively. Furthermore, there are also high drop-out rates among children from ethnic minorities in remote villages due to: (1) high rates of poverty; (2) poorly equipped schools in remote areas; and (3) lack of information. Such groups therefore risk being marginalised perpetually from mainstream society.
AAV recognises that education is a fundamental right and therefore a prerequisite for people to access and enjoy other basic rights. Beyond this, it also recognises that high rates of adult illiteracy present major challenges for community development and incapacitates poor people in remote areas to break out of the poverty cycle. Thus, AAV endeavours to promote access to education for all with particular emphasis on women, children and ethnic minorities. To this effect, the promotion of education has been integrated into various community development interventions as a means of empowering poor and excluded people to claim their rights and entitlements. The integration of literacy training into community development programmes is intended to remove the social, cultural, linguistic and economic barriers which prevent marginalised people from gaining sustainable access to quality education. In addition, conventional literacy programmes are often undermined by a lack of an appropriate curriculum and methodology to attract adult learners. These principles shape the AAV's Literacy and Community Development Programme (LCDP).
The Literacy and Community Development Programme
The Literacy and Community Development Programme (LCDP) was initially implemented in two districts of Vietnam in 2000. The programme targets poor and marginalised groups (such as ethnic minorities and women) in remote areas, particularly youths and adult aged 18 years and above. Between 2500 and 3000 learners / participants are enrolled into the programme per year, 80% of whom are women. Since its inception, the programme has been expanded into 11 districts across the country and, to date, more than 12,000 participants (of whom more than 9,500 are women) have enrolled into the literacy classes. In addition, the programme has been adopted by other agencies, including Aus Aid, German Development Cooperation, World Vision, World Bank, Caritas, Malteser and Oxfam Hong Kong for their adult literacy programmes.
The LCDP has three inter-linked phases: (1) literacy phase; (2) advanced literacy phase; and (3) community development. The programme curriculum is designed to ensure that learners move progressively from illiteracy to becoming literate, having acquired the necessary skills to function proficiently and effectively for individual and community development. To this end, the programme is comprised of various themes which are pertinent for community development, including health (nutrition and HIV&AIDS prevention), community development and gender inequity, environment, agriculture (animal and crop farming), business training (local budget analysis) and income generation.
The design and development of the programme were informed by the following key principles:
- Relevance: the curriculum should be based on the local context and needs. As such, it should endeavour to address learners' needs.
- Learner and community participation: the learners and their communities should be actively involved in the design of the curriculum and the overall programme agenda. This in itself is a process of empowering communities to address the challenges affecting them. This makes it imperative to mobilise the community into the programme as well as into social networks which support the processes of learning and community development.
- Linkages: it is imperative for community-based literacy and development actors to create linkages between themselves and with government authorities and professional agencies in order to improve programme effectiveness as well as to enhance its sustainability.
Aims and objectives
The programme endeavours to:
- combat illiteracy among rural people but especially among marginalised people such as ethnic minorities and women;
- empower the community with relevant information, techniques and skills to actively address or solve the challenges and problems they encounter in daily life and
- promote social networking and organisation for community development.
Programme implementation and methodologies
Recruitment and training of facilitators
The programme is implemented through a network of community-based facilitators. Before being deployed as literacy and community development mentors, facilitators attend a 10-to-12 day training-of-trainers course followed by regular one-day monthly sharing and trainings workshops and two five-day advanced refresher training workshops. The training workshops emphasise the following:
- fundamentals of adult education including curriculum content, adult teaching and education methodologies, management of adult group dynamics and adult learning characteristics;
- community development and gender issues (equity) which often takes four to five days;
- Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools;
- necessary linkages and networks for conducting the programme;
- participatory monitoring and evaluation of adult literacy programmes. In-house and actual field practice on all the technical content.
After the training, each facilitator is assigned between 18 and 25 learners/participants and is paid an allowance of US$25 per month.
The teaching-learning process
The programme employs the Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques (REFLECT) methodology in which participants are central to the implementation of the programme. Facilitators are therefore encouraged to use participatory teaching and learning methods, which are a fusion of Freirean literacy theory and Participatory Rural Appraisal tools and techniques. In order to enhance the learning process, locally-available materials and resources are adapted, mostly by the participants themselves, as aids in the learning process.
Thus, as a learner-centred and participatory programme, learners are encouraged to take full charge of the practical learning and community development activities. Groups of learners (usually numbering between 20 and 25) meet for three to five times a week for about two hours at a convenient time, decided by the participants. During the meetings, participants discuss about their own situation and the problems and difficulties they face in their daily lives; they discuss and analyse the causes and consequences of the problems and agree on the courses of action to solve them. Alongside this process, literacy content (key words, sentences, numbers and mathematics) which is closely linked with the discussion is progressively introduced. In addition, deeper information and technical skills needed to solve community problems are provided by facilitators and / or through working linkages with professional agencies and governmental bodies at local level.
With this integration of literacy learning and development, participants attending the REFLECT learning circles not only effectively improve literacy levels but also, most importantly, are empowered with comprehensive life-skills, techniques, self-confidence and capability to analyse and act both independently and collectively to solve their problems.
Programme impact and challenges
- Since its inception, more than 12,000 participants (of whom more than 9,500 are women) from 11 districts have enrolled into the programme. The programme has an overall retention rate of 80% - 90%, which indicates that the integration of literacy and community development projects generates strong motivation for continued learning among learners.
- 6,008 participants have graduated from the programme since its inception and most are now proficient in basic literacy (that is, are able to read, write and count). More than 4,000 of the graduates have progressed to advanced literacy training while 2,000 are participating in the community development phase/projects after completing advanced literacy training. Overall, the programme has led to significant improvements in the participants' literacy, analytical and life-skills which in turn have boosted their self-confidence and capacity to solve the problems affecting their families and communities.
- Programme participants who were examined by district education officials in the framework of formal literacy standards have achieved higher literacy results than learners from conventional adult literacy programmes.
- The programme has led to community development and empowerment as well as an appreciable decline of poverty levels among graduates due to their capacity to use literacy skills for income generation.
- With regards to gender empowerment, four women participants managed to obtain positions as members of the commune people’s council, a situation that had not occurred before. Overall, many programme graduates have become active members or leaders of community-based organisations such as women and youth unions.
The results of three evaluation reports (in 2002, 2005 and 2007) shed greater insight into the impact and efficacy of the programme as indicated by the three quotations below:
- Participatory evaluation of pilot phase (2002):
Most of learners (80% of whom are women and over 90% from minority ethnic groups) can read, write and do simple accounts when participating in farmer group discussions. 92.4% of learners in literacy circles can write very well; only 7.6% are not doing well after seven months of learning; and all learners can do simple calculations. Learners in advanced literacy circles can write and calculate more complex mathematics problems.
A highlight that was successful in the pilot programme is centred on gender. This comment is proved by the number of women who attend literacy circles: women learners show more self- confidence while practising uses of PRA tools and participating in group discussions. Women's roles are increasing in their family and production. For example, some women said that they know how to calculate their family’s income and expenditure, and read crop and livestock medicinal instructions. It is noteworthy that these tasks were previously performed by men.
The literacy circles have had a positive influence on the behaviour and livelihood of learners and commune life. Learners are more self-sufficient and responsible for their families. This reflects the relevance of the programme curriculum to the learners' everyday life. For example, learning about health and the environment motivated people to clean roads and to adopt improved farming methods.
- Participatory evaluation of expansion phase (2005):
Most learners were from ethnic minority groups and were aged between 15 and 50 years. About 80% were women and the retention rate was between 80 and 90%, which is rarely achieved in many adult literacy programmes which employ a conventional training methodology.
Besides improving reading and writing skills, participants showed their capability to plan for community development activities by themselves, particularly in terms of: (1) participating in community development discussions; (2) involvement in community development activities; and (3) contributing to improved family living standards. In addition, the programme has led to a decrease in the levels of social discrimination against women and girls.
- External evaluation of the EC co-funded project (2007):
The methodology used in this programme and the REFLECT approach to training have been officially recognised by Ministry of Education in Vietnam and, as a result, has been officially adopted as the key method in adult literacy programmes.
The results of the REFLECT programme underscored that the approach has major advantages on learners’ development, including the promotion of learners’ active participation and building of self-confidence. In addition, the content is relevant and applicable to local contexts, helping to attract learners’ interest; and improves the efficiency of education programme.
Capability of the facilitators: similar to any other participatory process, the quality of the programme is heavily dependent on the skills and capability of the facilitators. The quality of the programme cannot be ensured if there is not enough attention paid to the training of facilitators, as well as regular technical support.
Limited funding: the programme costs about US$ 50 per learner per year to implement. Often, however, funding is limited, which leads to shortages of resources. For example, some learning circles do not have enough furniture, which creates difficulties for learners, particularly with regards to writing. Other circles did not have enough electric or oil lamps and light for evening classes. These problems could be ameliorated with greater participation by local governments.
Several key and practical indicators point to the long-term sustainability of the LCD programme. Key indicators include:
- Community participation and ownership: 97 community groups were formed by advanced-level programme graduates. These groups are administered and operated by the graduates with technical assistance from AAV and have been officially recognised by local government. In addition, participants and communities are also actively involved in the implementation of the programme, including being empowered to decide the agenda of the meetings, the issues to be discussed, the topics to be learned and the administration of community development projects.
- There is also strong commitment and material contribution form local government (infrastructures and available community resources for the use of groups).
- The programme is now being replicated by several donors (WB, Aus Aid, German Development Cooperation, and Luxembourg Embassy) and INGOs (World Vision, Caritas, Malteser, Oxfam Hong Kong) in partnership with governmental education agencies.
- The Central Government (Ministry of Education and Training) has also introduced for adaptation of LCDP in its adult education programmes.
The holistic integration of literacy and community development programmes, which covers a wide range of aspects, therefore requires not only systematic implementation but also the involvement of different stakeholders, particularly the government, in order to ensure effective coordination as well as the sustainability of programme impacts. In addition, the selection of appropriate facilitators, together with capacity-building and regular technical support to the facilitators, are crucial for the success of the programme.
- Effective Literacy Practices - East Asia, South - East Asia and Pacific Region