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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

1999 Bhutan: Full-scale Evaluation of Non-Formal Education in Bhutan



Executive summary

Background

In Bhutan, the Non-Formal Eduecation (NFE) programme does not follow a campaign approach to mass literacy. Rather, a community-based approach is followed whereby only those villages who show a need and demonstrate a demand can receive support for NFE classes. While the demand for basic literacy courses has continued to grow, there has been little work undertaken to examine the impact of the NFE programme. Before deciding to expand support to the NFE programme or to increase the number of classes being implemented annually, the Ministry of Health and Education and UNICEF Bhutan agreed to conduct a full-scale evaluation of the NFE programme.

Purpose / Objective

a) To assess the impact on learners who have completed the course in terms of
functional literacy skills and compare the literacy skills of old students
(those who completed the basic 9-month NFE course), with non-students (those
who have not been to formal schools and/or NFE classes).

b) To assess the impact of the NFE course in terms of functional knowledge,
especially health, hygiene, nutrition and sanitation knowledge and practices,
and to compare the knowledge of old students and non-students.

c) To assess the opinions of both old and existing students about the
organization of the NFE course, the curriculum, overall impact and likes and
dislikes of the course. As well, the evaluation attempted to ascertain the
views and feelings of non-students as outside observers of a programme that
takes place in their own communities.

d) To gain feedback and inputs from all respondents regarding their interest in
topics for continuing education and for the content of post-literacy materials.

Methodology

In total, 1,556 persons from 18 Dzongkhags were interviewed in focus group
discussions and, of these, 600 persons were given a functional
literacy/knowledge exam:
- 465 old students [graduates of the NFE course]: focus group discussion and functional literacy/knowledge exam
- 956 existing students: focus group discussion
- 135 non-students: focus group discussion and functional literacy/knowledge exam

The study compared scores on the functional literacy/knowledge exam between old learners who had graduated from a 9-month basic literacy course, with scores of villagers who had not attended the course. In addition, old NFE students, existing NFE students and non-students were all asked to give their opinions on the classes and their perceived impact.

Key Findings and Conclusions

The following are key findings of the functional literacy/knowledge exam, which
contrasts scores of old students who graduated from the NFE course with those
of people from the same villages who had not attended the classes:

- Old students were able to fill out forms, read envelopes and read sight words
more easily, with an average of over 80 percent answering correctly. Non-students were unable to perform any of these literacy skills.

- In performing simple math such as calculating correct change in a market situation and calculating bus fares, NFE graduates scored twice as high as non-learners, with around 90 percent correctly answering the questions.

- Functional knowledge such as identifying two types of protection from STD and benefits of breastfeeding was higher among NFE graduates whose scores were, on average, double those of non-learners.

- Regarding the impact of classes on practices at home, over 74 percent of NFE graduates reported having kitchen gardens compared to 41 percent non-students. Improved hygiene and sanitation practices were also twice as high among the old students compared to non-students.

Perception and opinions about the course:

Old learners, existing NFE students, and non-students all gave opinions about the NFE course and its perceived impact. As well, all groups were asked about what future topics they would like to study. These include:

- Sanitation, health and hygiene for young children, family planning and basic calculation skills were reported as the most popular topics in the existing course.

- Lack of manpower at home for childcare and fieldwork were cited as the biggest impediments to attending NFE classes. Distance to the centre, under-qualified teachers and inadequate lighting were also reported as problems.

- Letter writing, reading Kuensel and reading prayer books were among the most commonly reported uses of literacy.

- For future study and reading, interest was expressed in learning English, health and hygiene for children, storybooks, practice in calculation and biographies of religious figures.

- Graduates of the NFE classes requested skills training, especially in sewing, weaving, carpentry and cooking.

Recommendations

Expansion of the basic literacy course - based on the findings, there is every reason to believe that the current high demand for NFE classes and participation in this programme will have a continued impact on the lives of students and their families. In this respect, it is recommended to expand
annually the number of classes being offered nationwide.

Revision of the basic literacy course curriculum materials and training package - based on feedback from students, a number of minor changes to the basic literacy course and instructor training have been recommended.

Strategic review and expansion of the post-literacy programme - as basic literacy classes are expanded, there is a need for an expansion of the post-literacy programme. It is recommended that this be done only after a strategic review is conducted.

Develop and market more supplementary and self-learning materials - while many post-literacy materials have already been developed by the NFE Section, additional titles are still required. In addition, for long-term sustainability and to give greater value to reading, it is recommended that a
nominal fee be charged for some materials, with readers buying books at subsidized rates.

Link to special education - include physically-handicapped learners in the existing classes. Rather than isolate physically-handicapped young adults, it is recommended that they be actively recruited and integrated into regular NFE classes, with minor modifications to the materials and instructor training. As well, themes on disability can be included in post-literacy reading materials.

Stronger links to early childhood development - it is recommended that the basic course include a unit on early childhood development and that post-literacy materials also be developed, which feature stages of child growth and development, the roles of parents and appropriate caring practices.

Conduct a national adult literacy survey - in order to have a clear base line on adult illiteracy rates and to better plan future NFE programmes, it is recommended that a survey be conducted, collecting disaggregated data at the dzongkllag level, if possible.



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Report information

Date:
1999

Region:
ROSA

Country:
Bhutan

Type:
Evaluation

Theme:
Education - Non Formal

Partners:
Ministry of Health & Education-Royal Government of

PIDB:

Follow Up:

Language:
English

Sequence Number:
1999/002

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