Peer learning in East Africa and the Horn of Africa region – A promising approach towards strengthening ALE systems

DVV International, in cooperation with the Uganda Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD), conducted an exchange visit in Uganda from 14-18 March 2022. The visit was to facilitate peer learning and experience sharing between Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda in ALE programming and service delivery.

DVV International is working in East Africa and the Horn of Africa region, in Ethiopia, Uganda and, since 2020, in Tanzania. All three countries face similar challenges in the service delivery of adult learning and education (ALE). ALE service providers in these countries have difficulties in meeting the needs of communities that tackle issues related to illiteracy and income generation, in coping with the underfunding of ALE programmes, and in allowing for strong coordination between the different actors in the ALE sector and beyond.

Peer learning visit on ALE service delivery

DVV International, in cooperation with the Uganda Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD), conducted an exchange visit in Uganda from 14-18 March 2022. The visit was to facilitate peer learning and experience sharing between the three countries in ALE programming and service delivery.

This peer learning visit was conducted with the following objectives: 

  • To share experiences on approaches and structures of integrated ALE service delivery.
  • To learn about the Community Learning Centres (CLC) model in Uganda and Ethiopia.
  • To familiarize all parties with the peer review methodology for ALE system assessment in the frame of the ALE System Building Approach.
  • To identify areas for further experience sharing and networking.

This peer learning visit consisted of a two-day workshop and a field trip to Community Learning Centres (CLCs) in two districts (Namayingo and Iganga) in Uganda. The delegations from Ethiopia and Tanzania consisted of representatives from politics, civil society and the adult education sector.

This peer learning visit allowed key stakeholders in the sector from the three countries to exchange information on lessons learnt in their programme implementation processes and discuss approaches that have been successful in overcoming common challenges. The stakeholders agreed that integrated ALE programmes are successfully meeting the needs of communities if they combine literacy and numeracy training with other forms of skills trainings.

Cross-sectoral approach supports programme implementation

Having appropriate financial and human resources available has always been a challenge to programme implementation. Therefore, there was a discussion about how other sectors, like agriculture, health, or labour, can contribute to implementing programmes, given the fact that ALE is a cross-cutting element.

A good practice was identified in Uganda: Having a national intersectoral ministerial steering committee is a first step in supporting integrated ALE service delivery. This committee supports the management and coordination of the Integrated Community Learning for Wealth Creation (ICOLEW) programme with resources from other relevant sectors. This horizontal structure of service delivery should be followed through the sphere of government structures to make integration of different forms of ALE services work from national to district level.

Community Learning Centres as lifelong learning hubs

Another essential component of the national integrated ALE programmes in Uganda and Ethiopia is the establishment of Community Learning Centres (CLCs). DVV International has supported the governments in these two countries in the development and establishment of CLCs. This CLC model was transferred from Morocco to Ethiopia through a peer learning process that was supported by DVV International. After adapting it to the local context it was piloted and is now one component in the national integrated ALE programme in Uganda. CLCs are seen as hubs for lifelong learning that deliver a wide range of integrated services based on local community needs and national development agendas. The CLC model provides guidelines for the establishment, management, and coordination structures. It also provides information on ALE service delivery modalities such as skills acquisition, livelihood trainings, entrepreneurship training, vocational training and much more. It thereby helps the community to learn, and ultimately transform lives.

In Tanzania, so-called Folk Development Colleges (FDCs) deliver their services in the regions and districts of Tanzania. However, the Tanzanian government has shown a strong interest in learning more about the CLC model. The reason for this is that FDCs focus strongly on non-formal vocational training, for instance for school dropouts. Contrary to that, services at CLCs target a wider group of the community and combine literacy with some form of skills development.

Peer learning results

The exchange visit has contributed to understanding the differences and similarities of ALE service delivery systems between the three countries. It has also helped in the development of networks among stakeholders. For government officials, it was a good opportunity to exchange information and to take the lessons learnt back to their respective countries. This will help to improve ALE service delivery in the future.

In her closing remarks the State Minister of the MGLSD in Uganda, Hon. Peace R. Mutuuzo, highlighted the fact that ALE systems in all three countries face the same challenges. Because so many countries have focused on basic education, it has contributed to the underfunding of ALE programmes. However, there is a high number of illiterate people in the region; e.g. around 20-30% of the population in Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

It is important for ALE programmes to meet the learning needs of the people. Thus, the teaching should be relevant to the people. But there is also a need to change the mindset of the various communities. People need to understand that education is a benefit for all, even if they are no longer of school age. Community awareness and the readiness of governments is needed to encourage education and skills training among adults. This requires resources but must be seen as an investment in the development of individuals and in their children, because educated adults are more likely to be able to support their children on their path to education.

Hon. Peace R. Mutuuzo also mentioned the importance of a qualification framework. An integrated curriculum should be developed that gives individuals the possibility to access formal education after participating in ALE services. Further exchange and experience sharing on this is very much welcomed.

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