Literacy: The international conference that ended yesterday recommended that Community Learning Centres (CLC) be linked with Non-Formal Education (NFE) in dzongkhags to enhance lifelong learning among the adult population.

Community Learning Centres will act as resource centres for NFEs in dzongkhags. While NFEs teach only functional literacy – to read and write, CLC is a local educational institution set up and managed by local people to provide various learning opportunities such as literacy, post-literacy, income generation, life skill programmes and basic education.

During the four-day conference, a number of issues were raised and recommendations made to address the problems pertaining to NFE. Non-formal and continuing education division (NFCED) will submit the conference resolution to the ministry and Korean National Commission for UNESCO.

According to the resolution two CLCs fully equipped with learning materials and resources should be established as pilot project to emulate its good practices.

“A tracer study to assess and upscale the NFE programme will be carried out to see how the former learners are faring in their lives,” NFCED chief programme officer, Norbu Gyeltshen, said.

It was found that roles and responsibilities of NFCED must be strengthened to encourage lifelong learning. Possibilities to support pilot CLC in terms of finance and management of centres will be explored. According to the resolution, lifelong learning programmes at CLCs and NFEs will be validated and linked to formal education.

A need was felt to develop CLCs and NFEs into active platforms to connect people with different needs and interest.

“Partnering with relevant stakeholders to use local resources and expertise to resolve the existing issues,” Norbu Gyeltshen said.

But some participants said the conference fell short of finding concrete measures to reduce attrition rate of NFE instructors and learners.

“We need to look at how delegate countries like South Korea and Thailand are addressing these issue so that we can emulate such good practices here,” Samdrupjongkhar chief dzongkhag education officer Rinchen Gyeltshen said.

As delegates from South Korea and Thailand pointed out that learners grasp education better through audio and visual, use of effective ICT to enhance teaching and learning was strongly recommended.

In order to retain existing NFE instructors and CLC managers and to encourage learners, exposure trips for learners and instructors within the country was recommended. The participants also felt the need to work towards capacity building of NFE instructors and CLC facilitators regularly.

“To keep the CLC and NFE moving smoothly and to retain these people, it is important to give facilitators and instructors regular training,” Wangchu Middle Secondary School  principal Dhan Singh Tamang said. For example, like in South Korea and Thailand, instructors and facilitators could be trained on the principles of adult learning.

Some participants suggested that recruiting BEd graduates as facilitators of CLC and NFE could assure quality. Department of Adult and Higher Education director Kesang Choden Dorji urged NFE instructors to aspire to be a lifelong learners.

“First, you must learn how to read to learn before telling your students to read and learn,” Kesang Choden Dorji said, adding that NFE and CLC instructors should make best use of technology to learn and teach.

The conference also recommended diversifying programmes by incorporating CLCs in hospitals and military camps, among others and resolved to propose frame lessons including employment skills and poverty reduction to suit the needs of the learners.

Korean National Commission for UNESCO and UNESCO Bangkok with National Institute for Lifelong Education supported the programme in collaboration with education ministry.

Tempa Wangdi