2. Curriculum and learning materials
Development of the Curriculum
The curriculum development may have the following steps:
1. Content Study
First and most important, make a context study of the area where the literacy programme is to be implemented, including the area's geographic, demographic, economic, socio-cultural, linguistic and educational conditions. This might be done through community surveys, observation, interviews, field visits and documentary analysis. Answers to questions such as the following would be source of data regarding needs and problems of the community:
a) What type of community? (rural, urban)
The functional literacy programme needs to be specified in terms of the developmental programme; for example, the objective "to eradicate illiteracy in order to enable learners to participate actively in an appropriate technical and vocational skills programme to improve their quality of life."
3. Study of the Target Group
A study must be made of the target group. This can be achieved through one of these three approaches:
a) Objective-oriented approach
The following steps are suggested for the development of a literacy training curriculum:
1) Recognize the clearly stated national goals for development and policies for adult education.
a) study the physical, socio-cultural and economic aspects.
5) Analyze the survey data.
a) propose strategies, both educational and developmental, to fulfill the needs of the community in
7) Write the appropriate materials for con tent of each learning unit.
Scope and Sequence of the Curriculum
Content of the curriculum should focus on the real and immediate problems of adult learners and their community.
The content should pose problems or describe potential problem conditions and provide related technical information or indications as to where such information can be obtained.
The content should be presented in an atmosphere conducive to sharing experiences and ideas.
The content should be selected and organized so as to require learner participation, drawing on learner experiences in seeking solutions to individual and community problems.
The teacher's role is to facilitate, to encourage learners to consider the problems and their potential solutions in light of their own situation and that of their community and the best technical knowledge available. Special concern should be directed to the individual and community contexts as these matters are often neglected in school traditions, which emphasize technical literacy skill alone.
Selecting Functional Content in Relation to Needs
To ensure that the knowledge taught in a literacy training curriculum is truly functional in terms of individual and societal needs, the following criteria should be considered:
1. Awareness: The learners, individually and as a group, should be made aware of the conditions in which they live and work. They should be motivated to undertake an analysis of the factors contributing to their existing problems and be encouraged to think of possible ways in which they can help themselves change their situations for the better.
How Defined Levels of Literacy Reflect Need
Essential literacy skills as they apply to daily life can be grouped in several ways. An example of such a classification is as follows:
Some Essential Literacy Skills: Applicable to Daily Life
1 Understand links between speech and print
- left to right or right to left or top to bottom
2 Word recognition and comprehension
- content clue
3 Recording and communicating
- writing down name, numbers, addresses
4. Following instructions
- read directions, road signs, posters
5. Finding the main ideas
- find out about the weight, price, differences, similarities, facts, opinions, etc.
While the information above is grouped into categories, it is not arranged in a developmental sequence. The growth of literacy skills is cumulative, involving the simultaneous development of speaking, reading, writing and numeracy. Each level of development represents the total integration of these areas of skill.
APPEAL Training Materials for Literacy Personnel (ATLP)
After the launching of APPEAL, UNESCO organized a series of meetings and workshops of literacy experts from different countries in Asia and the Pacific to work out a plan to improve literacy programmes in the respective nations. The experts came to the conclusion that development of a literacy curriculum agreeable to all concerned is prerequisite for developing other aspects of the programmes, including learning materials, training of literacy personnel, delivery mechanism and evaluation. Thus the experts in 1987 and 1988 drafted, field-tested and finalized a twelve-volume set of materials under the title APPEAL Training Materials for Literacy Personnel (ATLP) in 1987 and 1988.
The ATLP aims to improve national literacy training programmes through a systematic combination of literacy training curriculum, learning materials, training of personnel, delivery system and evaluation. The ATLP is intended for training three levels of literacy personnel, which are:
ATLP Exemplar Training Curriculum
The exemplar training curriculum advocated by the ATLP links functional content and literacy skills. The rationale is that literacy materials should not only develop literacy skills but should also provide the learners with knowledge and general skills for everyday life. Literacy materials need to be well-planned and sequenced; hence, there should be a well-organized curriculum framework.
(1) Functional Content
The functional content of a literacy training programme should address needs and problems and encourage people to improve themselves or their environment, or both.
In the ATLP exemplar literacy curriculum, the functional content is based on what are perceived to be the most important areas of social concern in most countries in Asia and the Pacific. Four categories were identified:
1. Family life
Within each of these categories, six major topics were further identified. These constitute the functional content of the literacy curriculum as shown in the following list:
A. Family Life
A.1 Family members-their roles and responsibilities
B. Economics and Income
B.1 Work and income
C.1 Food, water and nutrition
D. Civic Consciousness
D. 1 Rights and duties
Countries/localities can identify the appropriate functional content of their literacy programmes through a contextual study of the target areas and intended clientele to assess the existing situation, needs, problems, gaps, etc.
(2) Levels of Literacy Skills
The levels of literacy skills identified in the ATLP represents a consensus view of most countries in Asia and the Pacific.
i) Level I : Basic / Beginning
Basic Level (Level I)
a) Adults who have never been to school or who have dropped out of school before acquiring literacy skills.
Middle Level (Level II)
Adults who have completed basic level and/or have acquired basic skills.
Self-Learning Level (Level III)
Adults who have completed intermediate level or can study independently and who are willing to use books and other resources in search of new knowledge.
(3) Time Considerations
From a study of the range of literacy training programmes from representative countries, it seems that most require about 200 contact hours to achieve a level of literacy that would allow continued learning on their own.
The instructional time has been proportioned over the three levels of literacy in a ratio of 3:2:1. Level I requires more time in developing basic literacy skills. Once developed, progress is more rapid from level to level.
(4) The Curriculum Grid
Because there are four major areas of functional content and three levels of literacy skills, and because the time allocation is in the ratio of 3:2:1 from Level I to Level II to Level III respectively, it is possible to arrange the sequence of topics (from easy to difficult) in a curriculum grid. The ATLP exemplar curriculum grid is shown below:
This grid is merely suggestive, and may be adapted to suit country/local situations. Countries/localities may develop their own curriculum grid based on the needs and problems of the target learners and existing local situations, and taking into consideration national goals and other objectives.
The grid represents a minimum requirement for a literacy training curriculum of about 200 contact hours. Each cell of the grid should be fleshed out with appropriate learning materials for the learners. The development of understanding of functional content carries with it the growth of literacy skills. As literacy skills grow, the understanding of functional content can broaden and deepen. Learning materials should be developed accordingly.
Utilization of Curriculum for Developing Learning Materials
After the publication of ATLP, explanation of the relationship between curriculum and the learning materials has been given to the participants in every regional workshop. This was, however, nothing more than background information, until the Ninth Regional Workshop held in Pakistan (1991) when participants in the workshop visited field sites and studied learners' problems and needs. After analyzing these problems and needs, the participants prepared a curriculum grid.
The curriculum grid helped the participants to examine existing learning materials produced either under AJP or by other national and international agencies. They made decisions on how to use existing materials to meet learners' needs, as well as how to develop new learning materials. This process is definitely a great improvement over the earlier practice of producing learning materials directly after the identification of needs.
Curriculum-Grid Based on Group-C Survey at Saidpur, Islamabad
Note: Level 1: illiterate adults & children Level II: Neo-literates & drop-outs
Functions of Learning Materials
Illiterates or neo-literates do not read and write if they do not recognize the benefits of reading and writing. Hence the education programme is designed to build literacy skills, and through this impart knowledge and skills useful in improving quality of life (i.e. knowledge about civic education, health, hygiene, family planning nutrition, etc.) and in increasing their productive and earning capacity.
The education is therefore not only an education programme, but also a developmental activity. There are other important uses of literacy skills. Ability to use literacy for development releases people from a sense of personal inferiority, from the relationship of dependency and subservience. Literacy gives to neo-literates a new sense of identity, status and self-confidence which are very important for people in rural areas to be active participants in the development process.
It is now a widely accepted fact that literacy and post-literacy programmes help the people not only to gain more development-related knowledge and skills by themselves but also to get more benefit from existing socio-economic development institutions such as extension programmes, agricultural banks, cooperative societies, health centres etc. In the cities, they also help people to get organized and form labour unions in order to get higher wages and job security.
A recent comparative study of development indicators in predominantly literate and illiterate countries has shown that total birth rate in predominantly illiterate countries is almost double than in literate countries; the average female life expectancy is 46.5 years in illiterate countries, as opposed to 68.3 years in literate countries; and the infant mortality rate in illiterate countries is almost double the rate in literate countries.
The learning materials are required for illiterates, semi-literates and neo-literates, to help them to: a) acquire skills to read with understanding and to write simple words, sentences and paragraphs in their own mother tongue and in their recognized national languages:
b) recognize and understand numbers and be able to do simple calculations required in everyday life;
Types of Learning Materials
The different types of learning materials that are generally recognized as useful for literacy programmes are:
i) motivational materials
A content area may be presented through any one or all of these types of learning materials.
(1) Motivational Materials
These materials are designed primarily to catch the interest of different groups of people so that they will be induced to participate in the literacy programme. Motivational materials are important for the actual learners, and even more so for administrators, politicians, educated elite, local leaders and others, to elicit support for the success of the programme.
The two categories of motivational materials are:
i) Printed materials like posters, illustrated pamphlets or brochures, comic strips and write-ups.
(2) Instructional Materials
These materials are usually packages of different sorts such as initial primers, workbooks, teacher's guides, posters, audio-visual aids, among others. These are used during the actual teaching/learning sessions. These materials are very important in imparting the contents to achieve the objectives of the programme.
An Example of Instructional Material
This is a folded poster designed as a springboard for discussion in a female functional literacy class.
Intended for areas where women are overburdened and have no higher aspiration in life, the left side of the poster depicts familiar, existing situations of women. The right side of the poster shows how situations should be for the women.
Title on the left side states "Women, are you like this?" while the one on the right states "it is your right to be happy."
(3) Follow-up Materials
These materials are written for the post-literacy stage when the neo literate is expected to apply his/her literacy skills to add to his/her knowledge and for reading pleasure.
The learning materials should reinforce literacy skills acquired earlier for the improvement of quality of life. The materials should also provide access to new information and technology. These should also make the neo literates enjoy learning more. By and large, follow-up materials should give neo-literates opportunities to enhance their reading and cognitive skills.
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