Non-Formal Education

Publication Date



This report has been prepared under Contract AID 518-333, Project No. 518-11-690-075.2, for the Agency for International Development.


A logical place to begin this study was to list objectives from the original contract. The University of Massachusetts/USAID contract for this Project had some explicit objectives and contractual agreements are briefly outlined here so that we have a common background for discussing merits of this project. They are:

  1. Create and field test a range of non-formal educational techniques using local institutions to implement and support these techniques in field situation.
  2. Develop a number of non-formal educational methodologies which are feasible for use by existing Ecuadorean institutions.
  3. Implement selected methodologies with institutions, including the Ministry of Education, with on-going evaluation system designed to provide both current as well as terminal evidence of program impact.
  4. Make methodologies available to other interested agencies and provide support for their efforts.
  5. Devise and test training procedures to carry out these methodologies and use of support materials.
  6. Provide technical assistance in non-formal education to the Ministry of Education. Assist the Government of Ecuador and other Ecuadorean institutions develop non formal education projects.

The Project's implicit goal was "learning skills and knowledge by rural people which would be directly useful to them in their lives and villages." their objective was to develop materials, create conditions of learning and environment which would be conductive to learning at the local community level. A major question of this study is whether they achieved this goal.

Since traditional educational materials were found lacking by the Project, they believed new materials should be designed that were "attractive, self-motivating, and usable with relatively little outside input." A major Project concern was to design and develop low cost educational materials that were relevant to lives and rural sector experiences, and that served as learning devices. They believed materials would help generate other learning materials from the community themselves; they would not be ends in themselves, but rather open ended materials that could be adapted to meet individual requirements. Since this was a core contract objective, the study concentrated on evaluating the makeup of these educational tools to discover their efficacy, acceptance, and general suitability for areas where they were introduced.

A Project goal although not within the contract confines was to incorporate para-professional manpower into teaching positions in a non-formal educational system. As we shall see, the project aligned itself to an on-going program of "facilitators" and used these para-professionals to introduce their educational materials and methodology. "Facilitators" were to be trained by the Project and other professional groups, and would in turn work with community participants. It was hoped that facilitators would recruit and train other facilitators in an on-going process that would have a "multiplier-effect." While this concept was initially confined to communities where other professional groups were working directly, it was hoped that this model would be applicable for other programs. Can facilitator programs work realistically, and can the process be made systemic? Can it be made systemic without damaging the initial thrust of the idea? These questions were studied in this analysis.

An underlying concept running throughout the Project, although not an end in itself, was the idea of "conscientization," a philosophy developed by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. This concept was defined and explained within the context of the Project, and will not be restated here. To effectively learn, program participants must have a "sense of self-worth and a belief on the part of the participants that they could learn and that they could have an influence on their own life situations." Since Freire's philosophy is central to the learning process in this Project, the study analyzed to what degree "conscientization" was taking place, what were its manifests descriptions.

Concomitant with Freire's philosophy of "conscientization," the Project meshed the philosophy of Sylvia Ashton-Warner. The Ashton-Warner literacy philosophy encompasses a six stage process of literacy learning. It includes helping students to learn key vocabulary words that interest them and to increase learning by producing material at the students' level. The project did not utilize either the Freire philosophy or the Ashton-Warner method exclusively, but rather combined both into a new method called the "dialogue method."

Another Project goal was to design an unconventional delivery system to match unconventional program objectives. Rather than create a bureaucratic centralized delivery system, they proposed developing learning networks, and delivery systems to match those networks. Instead of using traditional channels for diffusing materials, they preferred to cooperate with institutions desiring to implement materials, and search for alternative delivery systems. While they cooperated with formal school systems, their primary objective was to cooperate with institutions outside regular educational systems.




Center for International Education