Non-formal Education Tool For Civic Education
Education is an effective tool and medium for the promotion of active citizenship and democratisation of society and the state. It is a tool for creating awareness and empowerment.
Modes of education
Education can be imparted through informal, non-formal and formal modes. However, the formal mode of education cannot singularly respond to rapid and constant technological, social and economic changes and challenges in society. It should be complemented and effectively reinforced by non-formal educational practices.
Today non-formal educational practices have been adopted and promoted as an integral part of a lifelong learning concept in many countries, both in the developed and developing countries. These practices are meant to acquire and maintain the skills, abilities and dispositions that are needed to adapt to a continuously changing social and political context and environment. These skills are generally defined and promoted as civic skills. And these skills can be acquired at the personal initiative of each individual through different learning activities taking place outside the formal education system and environment.
Non-formal education is indeed an activity which is not structured and rigid like the formal system. The formal system is chronologically graded, running from primary to tertiary level. Non-formal education takes place outside the formal education system. It also includes most parts of informal education, namely learning that goes on in daily life. This can be received from daily experiences such as from family, friends, peer groups, the media and other influences in a person’s environment.
According to OECD’s definition, the formal system refers to all those aspects of education within the sphere of responsibilities and influence of the Ministry of Education together with private schools, universities and other institutions which prepare the students for officially recognised qualifications.
But the non-formal sector comprises learning activities taking place outside this formal system, such as those carried out within institutions and organisations by professional associations or independently by self-motivated adult learners.
A Council of Europe working group on non-formal education has given its own definition of non-formal education. It has defined non-formal education as a programme of personal and social education designed to improve a range of skills and competencies outside but supplementary to the formal educational curriculum.
In Nepal, non-formal education has been popular. And various target groups in societies are served by this mode of education. The government has created within the Ministry of Education an elaborate organisational mechanism to implement non-formal education, especially targeting illiterate people living in different parts of the country. The government has also adopted the Non-formal Education Policy which clarifies the broad concepts of non-formal education apart from setting forth policies and strategies for the promotion and development non-formal education in the country.
The policies commit, among others, to provide the academic and practical knowledge, skills and information to learners of different ages and levels; impart education to those people deprived of an educational opportunity or have dropped out of school; increase access to education; develop Community Learning Centres (CLCs) as the centre of educational activities to ensure equitable access to quality non-formal education for all; and make local government institutions like VDCs and municipalities responsible for management of non-formal education.
According to the non-formal education policy, four modalities have been identified for the implementation of the non-formal education policy. These modalities include local body modality, NGO modality, community learning centre modality and educational institution modality
Nepal was committed to eradicating illiteracy by 2014/ 2015 as part of meeting the Millennium Development Goals. And for this, the Nepal literacy mission was implemented. Needless to say, the Interim Constitution of Nepal had guaranteed the right to an education as the fundamental right (Article 9). Moreover, the directive principles clause of the Constitution of Nepal requires the state to undertake measures to empower citizens through different modes of education. Likewise, the Education Rules and Regulations are to carry out a massive campaign to extend opportunities for education to all segments of the society.
The seven-decade-long journey of Nepalese literacy and adult education practices have also witnessed many shifts and changes. Initially, it was conceived for the purpose of cognitive development. However, gradually it began to emerge as a means for other purposes as well. Literacy for community development, functional skills, critical thinking, individual or social empowerment, social and cultural development, basic education are some of its purposes.
However, at the definitional, operational and participants level, it is perceived as simply the possession of a basic minimum level of proficiency in reading, writing and computation for practising that particular skill as an end itself. Sometimes, it also tends to acquire negative connotations, referring to the propensity on the part of those persons who possess just a rudimentary knowledge of the alphabets of any kind and can somehow sign their names to declare themselves as literate.
Redefine non-formal education
However, as we are a democratic society, it is time we redefined and re-conceptualised the role of non-formal education in tandem with its contribution to the development of civic and democratic values for the democratisation of both state and society. The objective of the Constitution of Nepal for an empowered citizenship can be met through well suited measures relevant to non-formal education.