Community learning centres: Empowering literacy

Due to the lack of a permanent institute at the village level, Literacy and Non-Formal Education (NFE) program could not provide functional education based on needs and problems of villagers

Nepal government has initiated tremendous efforts to consolidate and adopt the community learning centre (CLC) platform into the national educational policy and future strategy. In 1998, the CLC pilot project was launched in Sreekote, Baitadi in collaboration with the government of Nepal.

Conceptual clarity were brought up for further expansion of CLCs by different organizations. However, the overall objectives of such centres seem the same. Education for all National Plan of Action has reflected the CLC movement as one of the major strategies for the holistic development of the country.

The development paradigm of this tiny nation can materialize if we can transfer the delivery of services to the common people through effective ways and approaches. In the case of local-level development, the approach of development through Community Learning Centres can be a pivotal instrument.

Within the period of February 2003 to December 2005 more than 18 thousands community people  directly benefited from CLC activities at the community level through four major sub-sectors, i.e. education and communication, women empowerment, skill and vocational training and IG activities too. More than half of them were women and various activities carried out by CLCs and sub–CLCs have empowered the community people, especially girls and women, in decision making, planning for health and sanitation, children education and  improving their quality of life.

Generally , a Community Learning Centre (CLC) is a local educational institution outside the formal education system for villages or urban areas, usually set-up and well managed by local people to provide various learning opportunities for community development and improvement of people’ quality of life. Currently, we have more than 2 thousand and one hundred community learning centres, which are actively involved in different community-based development activities and more importantly focusing on non-formal education proceeding to lifelong education program supported by IG activities and empowerment initiatives.

The government of Nepal has designed a core program to address the issues of integrated approaches for reducing illiterate mass of our society. Non-formal Education Centre under the Ministry of Education has launched a program ‘Literacy Campaign’ in a widespread manner to fulfill the more enthusiastic mission of eradicating illiteracy within a few years. But, due to the lack of proper resources mobilization and very weak mechanism of monitoring and evaluation, the expected outcomes could not be achieved within the project period.

Learning from the drawbacks and mismanagement practices of ‘Literacy Campaign’ which was already declared, is being completed and a new approach and modality has been designed with the name of ‘Sachhyar Nepal’ which is going to be introduced very soon.

The lesions have to rethink and make proper brain storming before launching a new brand of literacy program. The more important thing is how we can mobilize the locally constituted and functioning Community Learning Centres in each and every VDCs and wards of Municipalities throughout the nation. One of the serious weaknesses of Literacy and Non-formal Education in Nepal is that it is ad hoc and a one shot affair.

Due to the lack of a permanent institute at the village level, Literacy and Non-Formal Education (NFE) program could not provide functional education based on needs and problems of villagers.

We often say that the Literacy and NFE programs should be need-based of the people, and it should help the villagers to identify their real problems and help them to solve the problems through learning new knowledge and skills related to community health and sanitation, nutrition, environment and forestry resources management etc. In the recent years, Non-formal Education Centre under Ministry of Education (MoE) of government of Nepal had initiated a program ‘Literacy Campaign’.  The program of ‘Literacy Campaign’ has the prime objective of fostering the mission of ‘Education for All’ through conducting non-formal education programs of literacy for illiterate people in different rural and remote areas of our country.

Non-formal Education Centre has already completed the third phase of the ‘Literacy Campaign’; but we do not have satisfactory outcomes of this ‘Literacy Campaign’. We are uttering that the concerned government authorities and stakeholders have to rethink and revitalize the approaches and mechanism of such programs with more result-oriented aspects. The concerned government authority has introduced program ‘Sachhyar Nepal” which need not be the continuation of ‘Literacy Campaign’.

With new and innovative approaches and mechanism, this program must be introduced with active involvement of key stakeholders.

If we really want to have optimum outcomes of this ‘Sachhyar Nepal’ campaign, we must revitalize and make more resourceful use of Community Learning Centres. The mission is for declaring Nepal as ‘Sachhyar Nepal or literate Nepal’ by 2018. More than 35 districts are already declared ‘Literate Districts’ and the remaining districts are on due course to be declared as such.

Karki  is an anthropologist and advocate