Flexible Learning Strategies for Out-of-School Children (OOSC) and Youth
What is Flexible Learning Strategies?
Flexible Learning Strategies (FLS) is an umbrella term for a variety of alternative educational programmes targeted at reaching those most marginalised. Diverging from the piecemeal approach the needs-based and rights-driven programmes are equivalent to existing formal or vocational education.
Why Flexible Learning Strategies?
Ideally speaking, everyone should study in formal schools, but in reality many children and youths, in particular from disadvantaged backgrounds, face challenges in overcoming multiple barriers to enter school or drop out before completing compulsory schooling. In Asia and the Pacific, many countries have large populations and low literacy rates, lacking the resources required to expand the formal education system accordingly. It is therefore necessary to provide education not only through formal delivery systems, but equally through flexible non-formal means.
Often visible across countries is the lack of linkages for student graduates from non-formal primary schools to progress and re- enter a formal secondary school system, key to their future development. With established equivalency programmes, learners are able to study at non-formal schools and gain formal qualifications equivalent to formal schools facilitating reintegration.
61 million children of primary school age remain excluded from formal education globally. These “out-of-school children” include those who are the most marginalized and vulnerable.
What types of Flexible Learning Strategies are available?
Flexible learning strategies (FLS) have been applied by many governments and Civil Society Organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. FLS overarches non-formal education, accelerated learning, equivalency programmes, flexible schooling, alternative learning/education, and complementary education and can be developed at any level and respective subsector of education.
In a country where primary, lower-secondary and higher-secondary education is available through the formal education system, corresponding flexible programmes can be developed accordingly.
Similarly, programmes can be developed at vocational/professional levels, with vocational, university, or college equivalency and open education programmes providing some examples.
What are the characteristics of Flexible Learning Strategies?
Reaching the Unreached: FLS are for those most marginalised unable to access formal educational systems through traditional schooling delivery.
Equivalency: FLS covers non-formal education programmes whose qualifications are recognised as equivalent to those gained through formal education.
Flexibility: FLS are “open” in terms of admission, age, mode, duration, pace and place; with delivery varying from face-to-face learning and/or distance education reflective of accessibility.
Intensive Learning Quality: FLS are often condensed and tailored to provide scaffolded and relevant learning.
Global Citizenship and Lifelong Learning: Approximately 75% of the content of FLS is equivalent to formal education curricula, with other functional and relevant life skills integrated on a needs-basis.
Regional Advocacy on FLS for OOSC and Youth
A daily newsflash as well as special edition for weekend compiling news and information on the latest developments on flexible learning strategies for out-of-school children is also continued to produce and circulate to about 3,228 experts and professional in the region. The situation analysis of FLS the social media performance was performed and social media marketing strategy was developed in order to increase awareness and reach more target audience effectively. As a result, there are more than 43,000 followers on FLS social media. Flexible Learning Strategies App for both iOS and Android platform was created for easy access to FLS database on innovative cases and relevant news on Education for marginalized.
Video documentary of OOSC: In order to increase awareness of policy makers and officials on the importance of opening education system for all children, it is necessary to develop a media tool to advocate this issue. This documentary reflects the reality of out-of-school children in ASEAN and its root cause of preventing them from remaining out of school. The 2 versions (2 minute trailer and a full version) are expected to present to high-level official and policy makers to get better understanding on by seeing the situation from the ground. This video comprises of 3 key messages: 1) providing education for all; 2) creating equal opportunity; and 3) increasing technical and financial cooperation among ASEAN countries to address this issue. It is being disseminated through UNESCO’s channel including websites.
Advocacy Notebook: With the update data and information, an advocacy notebook (Leader’s Note: DESIGN. INSPIRE. DELIVER) targeting high-level MOE officials and decision-makers was developed for distribution at the Asia Education Summit on Flexible Learning Strategies for Out-of-School Children and other high-level events. The notebook contains OOSC-related data and infographics, success stories, education data, and other advocacy materials. As it was found that the Note was in high demand, especially among government officials and partners, UNESCO Bangkok plans to produce the next edition of the Note for distribution in 2017.
Advocacy Report on the Innovative financing for out-of-school children and youth (1st and 2nd edition) was prepared and it would be ready to print by early Jan 2016. The purpose of it is to serve as a rapid reference for policymakers in the region who want to familiarize themselves on non-traditional financing approaches which have been applying in different countries. More innovative financing mechanisms for education in the high number of OOSC countries were added in this new edition.
Advocacy report: Situational Analysis of Out-of-School Children in 9 Southeast ASian Countries: Policies, Programmes and Profiles. In an effort to assist the countries in Southeast Asia to develop more robust policies and programmes for OOSC in their respective countries, this report was commissioned to map out the current legislations, policies, characteristics, and interventions on OOSC in nine countries across the region, which include Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. Using a desk review of available and relevant secondary data, the study covered OOSC of primary and lower secondary school-age. The findings from the review reinforce the observation that despite the establishment of basic legal and policy frameworks and programmes for OOSC based on equity and non-discrimination, many children are still excluded from the formal system and still do not benefit from the many efforts to expand educational opportunities that have been occurring across the nine countries. Several recommendations have been put forth as possible ways forward, including further efforts in mapping and monitoring, research, flexible learning programme management, and OOSC engagement. The report awaits for the Publications Board review meeting in February, 2017. The launch date of the publication is expected to be in the first quarter of 2017.
Human Interest Stories: To increase the visibility of UNESCO Bangkok’s work in the area of NFE/FLS, the team has proactively engaged with the IKM Unit in producing advocacy and promotional materials, including photo essays and articles, through UNESCO Stories and bimonthly UNESCO A-P newsletters. In 2016, a total of 5 articles were produced:
Everyone has the right to education: Myanmar Non-Formal Education (December, 2016)
Design Thinking: Outside the Box for Out-Of-School Children (November, 2016)
Out-Of-School, Not Out of Reach: The Children of Ban Nam Lo, Lao PDR (October, 2016)
‘Before, I thought I could never study’: Myanmar learners on flexible learning’s benefits (October, 2016)
‘Karaoke’ class: A high note for literacy in Thai mountain villages (July, 2016)