Literacy Rate Illiterate Population
94.9 % 2.4 million
source :  2000 figures estimated by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, July 2002

National Literacy Goals
YEAR 2005 2010 2015
Total adult literacy rate (%) ... ... ...
Female adult literacy rate (%) ... ... ...
Male adult literacy rate (%) ... ... ...

Definition of a Literate Person

Basic Literacy:

A basically literate person is one who has the ability to read and write and understands a simple message in any language or dialect.

Functional Literacy:

A functionally literate person is one who has a range of skills and competencies, cognitive, affective and behavioral which enables him/her to live and work as a human person, develop his/her potentials, make critical and informed decisions, and function effectively in society within the context of his/her environment and that of the wider community (local, regional, national and global) in order to improve the quality of his/her life and that of society.

Name of National Literacy Agency

Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS)

"Literacy Facts and Figures" of Plilippines
Structure of National Literacy Agency
Department of Education Culture and Sports

Number of NGOs working in the field of literacy

154 Service Providers which are NGOs, Local Government Units, Private and State Colleges and Universities implementing the Functional Education and Literacy Program (FELP)
76 Service Providers which are NGOs, Local Government Units, Private and State Colleges and Universities implementing the Nonformal Education Accreditation and Equivalency System

Number of literacy classes in most recent year 18,627 learning groups of 25 learners per group in FELP
2,651 learning groups of 25 learners per group in NFE A&E
Number of classroom hours designated to achieve basic literacy basic literacy - 150 - 200 hours in FELP
functional literacy - 500 - 700 hours in NFE A&E

National Policies and Strategies
National Policies on Literacy / Non-formal Education in Latest Policy Document on Education
a. The 1987 Philippine Constitution Article 14, section 2 provides that the State shall encourage nonformal, informal and indigenous learning system, as well as self-learning independent, and out-of-school study programmes particularly those that respond to community needs.
b. The Education for All Philippine Plan of Action (EFA-PPA) - Emphasizes the need to develop nonformal literacy and continuing education programmes especially to meet the educational needs of the poor and underserved communities.
c. R.A. 7165 states that it is the policy of the State to give highest priority to the adoption of measures for the total eradication of illiteracy.

Administrative Order No. 116, signed by the former President of the Republic of the Philippines, mandates all government agencies and local government units to support the Nonformal Education Accreditation and Equivalency (NFE A&E) System.

Current Literacy / Non-formal Education Objectives /Strategies
a. Provision of a system for assessing and certifying levels of literacy and nonformal learning achievement
b. Development and institutionalization of an alternative learning system, incorporating a Nonformal Education Accreditation and Equivalency (NFE A&E) System
c. Provision of an alternative pathway of learning to out-of-school youth and adults to gain reading, writing and numeracy skills
d. Partnership with local government units and nongovernmental organization

Intensification of advocacy and social mobilization as starting points of all literacy efforts

Lessons Learned from Past Literacy Programmes and Activities

The various literacy programmes and activities conducted in the past have provided numerous lessons which serve as valuable inputs in improving the current and subsequent literacy programmes in the country. Among these major lessons are the following:

One Lesson:

The NFE programmes are most functional if developed community-based. This points out the need to involve all key sectors of the community in NFE to ensure not only the acceptability but also the sustainability of the programme in the very community it is intended to serve. This implies the following needs:

a. to conduct a rapid community assessment prior to literacy programme/project development,
b. to localize the literacy curriculum,
c. to develop learning materials on site utilizing local writers, artists and other resources. There is likewise the strong need to involve the local management and personnel in hands-on training in the various aspects of literacy programmes.

Another lesson:

The various initiatives and efforts in literacy programme components development (NFE Curriculum Framework, literacy materials preparation, delivery systems development, and other related developments) need to be considered and harmonized.

Partnerships - While the Philippine Government is constitutionally mandated to provide quality basic education to its citizenry, it was recognized that education is much too important to be left to the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) alone. With the rapidly growing population (an average Filipino family size is far bigger than in many other nations) limited financial and human resources and the economic crisis it currently faces, DECS cannot meet the basic education needs of the entire nation. Nonformal education, which serves the millions of out-of-school youth and adults, has a very limited budget for its programmes (only 0.3% of the total DECS budget) and therefore cannot win the fight against functional illiteracy alone. The BNFE therefore linked with nongovernmental organizations, local government units, state and private universities and colleges, community-based organizations and other government organizations as partners, not only to fund the nonformal education programmes but also to implement and manage the NFE A&E programmes in their respective localities. These partnerships were institutionalized through the use of a Service Contracting Scheme (the Learning Support Delivery System) to provide learning support services to NFE A&E Learners. The Service Contracting Scheme uses a variety of delivery modes including individual service providers which are NGOs, local government units, private and state colleges and universities, peoples' and church-based organizations, NGO umbrella organizations and the DECS itself.
Flexible Learning Philosophy - By flexible learning we mean an approach to learning, which gives learners as much control and choice as possible regarding the content, sequence, time, place and method of learning within the constraints of limited resources. This includes: allowing multiple entry and exit points; using a range of alternative delivery modes which support self-paced study options; having flexible programme requirements; encouraging the formulation and renegotiation of individual learning goals, individual learning plans and individual learning agreements; encouraging learner choice of curriculum materials according to individual learning needs, interests and learning styles; providing for pre-entry and on-going counseling; recognizing learners' prior learning (RPL); using learning portfolios and other authentic assessment methodologies; and providing access to appropriate interactive learning resources.
Range of Alternative Delivery Modes - NFE A&E uses a range of alternative delivery modes in order to maximize the flexibility of the programme and meet individual learning needs and learning styles. This includes the use of facilitator-aided and interactive self-instructional print and audio-based learning materials, video tapes, face-to-face structured learning groups, semi-structured and unstructured discussions, one-on-one tutorials, study groups or circles and self-learning groups, demonstration sessions, home visits, mentoring and remediation.
Focused Learner Target Group- The NFE A&E specifically targets Out-of-School Youth and adults who are basically literate and who are 15 years and above. The decision to focus on young adults/adults rather than children, was deliberate as it enabled the curriculum, learning materials, learning process and learning support strategies to be built around adult learning principles and respond to adult learning needs. The NFE A&E is thereby clearly defined as a second-chance education for those who either were unable to avail themselves of the educational services of the formal school system when they were younger, or who had dropped out of school for a significant period of time. This decision further clarifies issues of jurisdiction and responsibility within the DECS re: the provision of basic education services, with the formal school system taking responsibility for serving under-15-year-old children through traditional and alternative delivery strategies.
Linkages and Articulation Agreements - The BNFE recognized that in order to institutionalize the NFE A&E as a truly alternative learning system linkages and articulation agreements with other stakeholders of the Philippine Basic Education System had to be established. This was accomplished through the negotiation of a series of formal memoranda of agreements with a range of institutions, which duly recognized the Elementary and Secondary Certificates of the NFE A&E System as legitimate and comparable forms of certification to that of the formal school system. For example articulation agreements were signed with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to give NFE A&E test passers access to TESDA's vocational training and education programmes; with the Commission on Higher Education and the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) in order that NFE A&E secondary level passers be accepted into colleges and universities; Meralco Foundation, Inc. which accepts the NFE A&E test passers as scholars in their technical courses; and the Civil Service Commission which recognizes the NFE A&E certificates as valid documents for permanent appointments to government positions requiring elementary and secondary certificates provided other requirements are met. These linkages provide recognition and acceptance of the NFE A&E System as a legitimate alternative to formal schooling and thereby give NFE A&E graduates access to a wide range of post-elementary and post-secondary education and training opportunities once they exit the NFE A&E System.
High Standards of Quality Assurance - Nonformal Education has been traditionally been viewed as a poorer cousin of the formal school system in terms of quality of educational services and learning results. In order for the NFE A&E System to be effective as a recognized alternative pathway to elementary and secondary certification, it had to avoid being regarded as an easy or inferior option to a qualification. The BNFE therefore prioritized the institutionalization of high standards of quality assurance in order to establish the legitimacy, credibility and acceptability of the NFE A&E as an alternative learning system to that of formal schooling. This involves using strict policies and procedures throughout every phase of the NFE A&E Testing registration and administration process to ensure the credibility and academic integrity of the NFE A&E Certification System.
Intensive Capability Building Programme - The NFE A&E System is a radically new approach to nonformal education in the Philippines, utilizing an array of innovative strategies in the provision of basic education. In order to successfully operationalize these innovations an intensive and comprehensive Capability Building Programme for programme implementers and stakeholders was needed. An enormous investment was given to the orientation and training of NFE A&E implementers, the DECS national, regional, division and district officials, service providers, instructional managers, test registration officers, examiners, proctors, test monitors and other project stakeholders. Training programmes are not provided as one-off interventions but institutionalized as an on-going and continuous capability building process within the programme implementation cycle. Experiential training methodologies have proven highly successful in facilitating the development of essential programme skills and competencies within tight time frames.
Strong Advocacy and Social Mobilization Efforts - Advocacy and social mobilization is a very critical factor in the success of the programme because unless there is a strong advocacy and social mobilization support, learners will not be attracted to join or remain in the programme. Advertisements in newspapers, broadsheets and tabloids and radio plugs proved very effective in the recruitment of learners and test takers. Advocacy efforts have also involved mobilizing community, private sector and government support for the NFE A&E System through consultations, orientations, networking, development and dissemination of Information, Communication and Education (IEC) materials, community meetings, conducting of contests, securing of LGU and business sponsorships and media press releases.
High Quality Learning Materials - The NFE A&E self-instructional and facilitator-aided learning materials incorporate proven adult learning principles and high standards of instructional design in order to ensure they are effective, relevant and appropriate to the everyday life contexts and learning needs of NFE learners. Some 232 interactive learning modules provide the principal source of learning in the NFE A&E System. They provide a comprehensive coverage of the competencies of the NFE A&E Curriculum Framework and a vehicle for the development of learning to learn skills. The modules are clustered around five learning areas or learning strands which are based on the new national definition of functional literacy. In view of the bilingual policy of the DECS, these modules are now available in both Filipino and English. Audio and videotapes accompany some learning modules.
Strong Management Systems - In building the NFE A&E as an alternative learning system, it was essential that the programme be supported by strong management support systems such as an effective NFE A&E monitoring and evaluation system, and a responsive management information system. A systematic monitoring and evaluation system has been established for each level of project implementation (from Instructional Managers and Service Providers through each of the DECS organizational levels up to the national office). A fully integrated computerized NFE MIS has been developed in cooperation with SEAMEO INNOTECH, which provides an information backbone for the entire NFE A&E System.
Strong Level of Government Support - Strong support from the highest levels of the DECS and the Government for the NFE A&E System during its embryonic years contributed greatly to the success of the programme. The former President issued Administrative Order No. 116, which mandates all government agencies and local government units to support the NFE A&E System. The Chairmen of the Committee on Education in both the Senate and Congress demonstrated their support and commitment to the programme and the provincial governors and local government officials provided a high level of political, financial and administrative support to the local activities conducted in their respective communities.
Support from International Agencies - The development of the NFE A&E System was made possible due to the funding support from the Asian Development Bank, under the Philippines Nonformal Education Project. Administrative and financial support from other international funding agencies has also helped in the success of the programmes. Small grants from UNESCO-PROAP have helped expand and institutionalize the NFE A&E as a component of a broader alternative learner system, which articulates with other NFE programmes. UNICEF has provided pencils to all the NFE A&E test takers in order to facilitate the test administration process. ACCU has provided training and financial assistance for NFE materials development, translation and reproduction, the materials of which, both print and audio, are made available to the learners in both project and non-project sites. These assistance and grants have a big impact on the implementation of NFE programmes considering that the BNFE only receives about 0.03% of the budget of the DECS.
Access to Effective Technical Assistance - Responsive and high quality technical assistance from international consultants at critical points during the development of the NFE A&E System contributed greatly to the success and innovative dimensions of the Programme. Consultants did not merely provide technical advice but produced real outputs, which helped propel the Programme development process forward. Having access to a long-term full-time Project consultant also helped provide continuity of technical assistance to technical staff and management. In the early years of the Project, short-term assignments were given to consultants, but this strategy was not found to be effective.
Commitment and Dedication of Staff - A group of hard core dedicated BNFE staff and Instructional Managers who spent long hours beyond regular official time is a foundation of the success of this programme. Their dedication, commitment and personal conviction that NFE A&E is a programme that can help improve the quality of life of its learners provide the energy and momentum for continuous development and improvement of the programme in the face of great challenges of limited resources and working in the Philippine Government's largest bureaucracy. The staff are totally immersed in their desire to maintain the standard, quality and integrity of the programme particularly in the new dimension they are presently working on, the expansion of the NFE Assessment and Certification System to include more authentic assessment methodologies.
Innovation - The driving force behind the successful development of the NFE A&E System as a uniquely nonformal alternative learning system has been innovation. Major innovations include: development of the new national definition of functional literacy by the Literacy Coordinating Council; development of a truly nonformal NFE A&E Curriculum Framework; development of new alternative delivery mechanisms for the provision of learning support services; development of state- of-the-art self-instructional learning materials which incorporate the principles of adult learning, and the four pillars of education (learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and learning to live together); development and use of learner-centred technologies such as flexible learning strategies, individual learning agreements, learning portfolios and project-based learning; development of nonformal equivalency testing and authentic assessment methodologies; development of a computerized NFE MIS and management support system. All these innovations, which were developed under extremely tight time constraints, paved the way for the success of the programme, making possible the winning of the UNESCO International NOMA Literacy Prize for the Year 2000.

[Updated in April 2003]

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