Community Learning in the... Middle East





A young man learning how to take blood pressure during a home care course targeting male and female dropouts in a CBO in Zarqa, Jordan.






In the Middle East there is a unique structure of Community Development Centres (CDCs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs). They have adopted poverty reduction as their mandate. Many of them tackle poverty through providing education for the community members and thus help them step out of poverty. DVV International has been working with several CDCs and CBOs in Jordan and Palestine for more than two years, providing capacity building trainings, 
funding mechanisms for their courses and supporting them with equipment and training materials. During this process
it has become clear that providing labour-market oriented trainings are an aspiration but not a reality in most CDCs and CBOs. Only ver y few actually have the capacity to help people step out of poverty and to empower the communities they serve.

Several shortcomings have been identified in cooperation
with the CDCs and CBOs that led to the development of an exemplary model of Adult Education Centres, a model which some of the CBOs and CDCs can adopt on different levels.

Key shortcomings

  • Training is not necessarily geared towards income generation or towards the practical improvement of livelihoods. Training is usually not based on proper, realistic data research and market assessments.
  • The potential to develop new innovative training programmes is usually rather low. Developing new curricula is a too complex and labour-intensive task to be taken over by the CDCs and CBOs. In fact, only very few of them consider developing new and development-oriented curricula as a priority.
  • Participants are usually not selected in a transparent way and based on pre-defined criteria. Usually participants sign up for courses because they have plenty of free time. Most of the courses are offered for free and are thus used rather as a passtime activity than as an
opportunity for professional and personal development.  





A woman learning to write during a literacy workshop for women empowerment in a par tner CBO in Zarqa, Jordan.





“Adult Education Centres contribute to pover ty reduction by empowering the community through offering courses, career orientation, referrals and coaching for community initiatives.”

There have been many Community Centres and organisations asking for support to redefine their role, sharpening their strategies and adjusting activities. These Centres and organisations are highly trusted in local communities. They generally have good capacities to reach out to the target
group and they have good understanding of the economic, social, political and cultural concerns and realities within the communities.

DVV International is working with selected CBOs to develop their capacity in Adult Education and thus strengthen their function as Adult Education Centres (AECs). Adult Education Centres contribute to poverty reduction by empowering the community through offering courses, career orientation, referrals and coaching for community initiatives that empower especially disadvantaged target groups economically, socially and politically.

The AEC offers the community the following four main exemplary services:

  • Courses: education and training in fields relevant to community life and to the labour market. The courses AECs offer are defined based on real needs and help beneficiaries become more empowered economically, socially or politically.
  • Personal and Career orientation: empowering especially young adults to make informed choices on their career path and personal development is one of the key priori
ties in marginalised communities.
  • Referrals: Referring community members to education institutions, employers, psychosocial agencies, networks, etc., to help them pursue their personal and career development. CBOs and CDCs operate based
on minimum financial, human and technical resources,
therefore it is necessary that they link with other stakeholders in the community for better and more holistic support for community members.
  • Coaching of community initiatives: encouraging and facilitating initiatives and engagement for improving living conditions in the community. In most, if not all, of the CBOs and CDCs, the spectrum of the activities offered mainly focus on pure economic gain. Consequently, CBOs and CDCs are, with time, losing their social edge. CBOs and CDCs should encourage community members to become more active citizens, and should strengthen their contributions to community leadership. Coaching for community initiatives will help, with time, to over-
come dif ferent social challenges in the communities.

The analysis and model Adult Education Centre proposed is unique in two aspects:

1. It is asset-based. The concept of an Adult Education Centre redefines the role of CDCs and CBOs in a way that contributes to the sustainability of the institutions and exerts long-term impact.

2. It is evidence-based and realistic. Each angle of the concept was developed based on clear evidence, on experience of DVV International in the Middle East and other regions of the world and, last but not least, on suggestions from CDCs and CBOs themselves.

More information

Katrin Denys & Alaa‘ Abu Karaki, DV V International Jordan,,


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