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Alternative Education

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Introduction

Basic education is a right which the state is duty bound to make accessible to all children, pupils who for some reasons have missed out on basic education or are unable to complete basic education through normal schooling. They need to be provided with alternative routes to complete their basic education.

An alternative learning opportunity must be available, therefore, to ensure that all children acquire what has been prescribed as minimal education. It must define educational equipments in the form of learning modules and must develop learning skills which learners have missed out in schools. It must also instil in them the personal discipline and focus of purpose usually required in academic learning.

Current Situation

A significant number of school age children do not attend school or drop-out of basic education due to various reasons including shortage of places, distance from home to school, poor quality of education, irrelevant curriculum, lack of parents' awareness on the importance of education, early marriages and pregnancy and opportunity costs. In addition, as most schools are faced with shortage of space to accommodate all registered children, a considerable number of children start schooling late and are at risk dropping out of school before completing basic education. Currently about 20% of primary school children are out of school and 25 % of children dropout before completing basic education. Most of these children grow into illiterates or semi illiterates since they have not benefited from universal basic education.

The alternative learning programme is still at infancy stage and has not spread throughout the country. Currently they are 13 centres with enrolment of 501 learners of whom 102 or 20.4% of the total enrolment are females. These children attend alternative learning for one year which is organized in regular schools but in different classes and then mainstreams in normal school classes. The programme has not yet reached the remote and underserved rural communities where a great number of children are not schooling or drop out of school early.

Strengths

  • Introduction of Alternative Learning classes in several schools.
  • Some students of this innovative programme have performed well and have been selected to join bias schools.
  • Increase awareness and interest among youth to join alternative learning centres.

Weaknesses

  • The alternative learning programme has focused on only primary education.
  • Married, pregnant girls and vulnerable groups have not benefited from the programme.
  • This programme has not provided multiple paths or channels.
  • Varying levels of student ability makes grading difficult.
  • Designing common levels at the entry point is difficult.
  • There is no formal training of teachers for this programme.
  • The programme demands strong self discipline on the part of students and parents.
  • Lack of resources to equip training centres reduces hands-on-experience.
  • The existence of only a few centres in rural areas limits full participation of youths.
  • Inadequate funding.
  • Minimal involvement of NGOs and CSOs.

Policy Statements

  • Alternative education programmes shall be diversified, and expanded to provide basic education and pre-vocational learning opportunities to meet the needs of learners who are unable to benefit from formal schooling.
  • Government shall provide incentives to NGOs, CSOs to establish and manage alternative education programmes for out-of-school children and youth.

Strategies

  • Designing a multifaceted alternative learning programme.
  • Designing learner-driven and learner-focused curriculum.
  • Training teachers and volunteers to support the alternative learning programme.
  • Advocating strongly the alternative learning programme to reach the under-served remote community.
  • Establishing feeder schools close to the villages.
  • Incorporating life skills, skills training within the curriculum.
  • Forging close collaboration between government and Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations in the provision of education.
  • Establishing links with CSOs, NGOs, School Committees and communities