Learning through out life A Look into Non-Formal Education practices in Asia

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Countries have interpreted nonformal education in various ways. For some, it meant every educational programme provided by the Ministry of Education apart  rom the schools and colleges, while others defined nonformal  education as  chooling like programmes provided by nongovernmental  agencies. Various other countries have interpreted it as educational and training activities of different Ministries like Women’s Affairs, Health, Labour and Employment, Youth and Sports and Culture etc. Others again included within non-formal education, individualised learning programmes  for different and specific learning groups. Some took it to mean every  educational activity apart from schools and colleges, including radio and television programmes, the print media. In fact, it is very close to what some people define as ‘experiential learning’; and with the boons of information and communication technologies, now it is very close to total lifetime learning. Practices – varied in nature andscope In countries like Bangladesh and  ndia, which still have to go a longway to ensure basic education for all children, the natural choice has been to adopt innovative methods, in most cases through ICTs to reach out-ofschool youth and adults. Both these  countries have chosen to illustrate the ICT innovations through initiatives of non-government organiations. On the other hand, countries like Malaysia, which has made tremendous progress in recent years in terms of providing basic education for all, has chosen to focus on extending the benefits of information  technology through continuing education programmes.

Lifelong or continuing education through nonformal  means is becoming increasingly important in mobilising  human resources in Malaysia, especially the youth. Approximately 1.2 million Malaysians   currently have little or no access to ICTs. As one  among the many fighters of the cause,  Worldview Foundation conceived of the sm@sy (short for Smart Masyarakat meaning Smart  Community) project in 1999 as a  means of bringing  nformation technology to rural Malaysia, as a  powerful tool for communities to  develop the new skill sets and knowledge they need to sustain  themselves. sm@sy developed multimedia content in two languages,  Malay and English, dealing with a  wide range of topics specific to the residents of Kampung Raja Musa,  which helped the residents, both  computer illiterate and the illiterates as well to navigate offline and for free  and to become a smart community.  Penang e-learning community, ICT  LitPro are some of the other such attempts made in the direction of  making Malaysian communities smart with learning just in time.  Non-formal educational programmes in  Philippines  are conducted by both public and private sector  organizations. Within the government, the  rimary agency is  the Department of Education, Culture and Sports. The Bureau of Non formal  Education runs a livelihood skills  project in collaboration with SEAMEO-INNOTECH (South East  Asian Ministers of Education-  Regional Centre for Educational  Innovation and Technology), which is called the  evelopment of a Learning  system for the Improvement of Life. This   ommunity based education  intervention seeks to improve the quality of life and develop skills  needed locally within the community. In a rapidly changing country  scenario, colleges and universities  cater to such community demands and respond to their education  requirements through a distance education movement. The University  of Philippines has established the UPOU (University of Philippines Open University), an institutional arm  that  mbodies the philosophy of open learning. The UPOU operates within  the system of a conventional  university and remains linked to the academic programmes of the UP.  UPOU reaches out through the distance and open learning modes to people who are not able to participate  in classroom style education. The draft ICT Master Plan for 2005-  2008 of Office of the Non-Formal  Education  ommission (ONFEC) in Thailand      focuses on areas like facilitating lifelong learning   f Thai  people through ICT, improving the quality of ICT services both for  administration and for lifelong  learning, providing ICT  nfrastructures for local learning  centers and ICT personnel development.   FEC aims to develop various electronic learning materials,  improve the quality of distance  education, set up a courseware center, promote e-learning, develop e-books and set up e-libraries. Center for  Education Technology (CET) under ONFEC runs Educational Television  Station (ETV); similarly some distance  education and e-learning programmes  are also provided at this level. The responsibility that the Department of  Non-Formal Education has  undertaken is to organise non-formal  education programmes for adults who have missed the opportunity for formal schooling or have dropped out. The programmes offered are Literacy Campaign project, functional literacy  courses, Hill Areas education, and continuing education. In an  innovative new experiment to bring ICTs to rural Thai villagers, the  Population and Community

Development Association (PDA) of Thailand has established a Community Based Integrated Rural Development (CBIRD) Centre for  factory workers and students working or living in the neighbourhood. Field  staff of the CBIRD Centre use the Internet connections provided by the  project to research farmers’ problems and print out solutions for discussion  with the farmers during their field  visits. Furthermore, two schools nearby have established their own  computer labs using grants partly received due to training schools’ teachers had undertaken at the  Lighthouse Project on ICTs and the Internet. In Indonesia  , the UNITeS (United  Nations Information Technology   Services) supported by UNESCO has   integrating local Radio with the    Internet through Multipurpose   Community Telecentres has    converged local radio and informatics  via community telecentres in rural    areas. The project focuses on strengthening civic education, dialog    and transparency aimed at rooting asound democratic basis and good    governance in rural Indonesian communities. Through dailyinteractive radio programmes theinformation available on the Internetis explored and visualised to alllisteners and the methods ofaccessing civic and other informationis illustrated. Combing this activitywith a community-radio/Internet cafe   where individual studies can be   carried out with guidance offered by   trained staff, the access to ICT   services is strongly improved.   Even though     India  has made major strides over recent decades,   script in computers and also to train   rural youths in computer applications.   A project ASHA -2005 was launched   with the intention of reaching the   most backward villages of Nagrota   Surian block and help the villagers by   imparting education and training in   health, social welfare and   environment.   The world of     corporate  too encourages such attempts of   restoring knowledge economy    through innovations of ICTs by creating educational programmes   which primarily focus on building   educational infrastructure, mentoring,   school dropout prevention, reading and literacy, scholarships, businesseducation partnerships and other local needs. Microsoft is working to bring the benefits of technology and education to one quarter of a billion people by2010 through its Unlimited Potentialprogramme that works with nonprofitsaround the world. It has teamed with  the Beijing Xicheng District Library toassist rural migrant workers, working with the Hong Kong Federation ofYouth Groups (HKFYG) to launch“Cyber SPOTS” to provide computerskills training to underprivileged youth, implementing the programme in   four Indian states: Punjab, MadhyaPradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryanato deliver ICT skills training  curriculum for women and girls. It also   works with someother countries like  Korea, Sri Lanka and Philippines.Others like Coca-Cola and Intel tooare seen quite active in taking the goal forward. By 2005, Coca-Cola hadincreasing by six-fold the number of children enrolled in primary schooling, probably a larger number of older youth received little or no schooling at all. India seeks to improve the basic skills, literacy and entry vocational skills of out-of-school youth and young adults in poor communities in several India states through non-formal programmes like Bridges to the Future Initiative (BFI). BFI includes three components development of ICT-based software tools to improve basic education, literacy, and entry level vocational education for teacher training; creation of community learning and technology centres (CLTCs) for social and economic information resources(e.g. health, agriculture, HIV/AIDS prevention, etc.) and lifelong learning; and implementation of advanced ICTsupported services to disadvantaged regions.The programme of rural awareness started by a non-government social organisation, the Science Awareness Trust (SAT), is also a huge success in the remote villages of Nagrota Surian block in Kangra district of Himachal.The organisation planned to educatethe illiterate adults by using Devnagri Information and communication technology (ICT) is now so pervasive, and so powerful, that major changes in learning simply must follow. The effective employment of new technology in education requires a rethink about methods, one that particularly applies in the context of the radical goals associated with the lifelong learning agenda. The main  rationale of this agenda is to draw in  to new learning opportunities people who have not previously benefited  fully, or at all, from education or training. Also, in the most ambitious way, to reposition education and  training so that they will no longer be  undertaken at a particular stage of life, providing a single platform of knowledge and skill which will last for a whole career, or for a lifetime. Rather, this learning has to become a synonym for sustainability of the  knowledge economy: for a world  where knowledge and skills are continuous, and where people  build their own knowledge and skill profiles from an instantly accessible  menu of learning delivered just in time.

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