What are the characteristics of Flexible Learning Strategies?
FLS enhance delivery and reach through 5 defining components
What types of Flexible Learning Strategies exist?
Flexible learning strategies (FLS) have been applied by many governments and Civil Society Organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. An overarching term for: non-formal education, accelerated learning, equivalency programmes, flexible schooling, alternative learning/education and complementary education, they 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.
Why Flexible Learning Strategies?
Progress globally as well as in the region towards universal primary education enrolment has slowed down. Worldwide, 250 million primary school-age children cannot read, write or count at grade level. Of those children 130 million are failing within the system, and 120 million have spent little to no time in a school. In Asia and the Pacific specifically, many countries have large populations and low literacy rates.
Initial focus on lowering associated delivery costs in order to ensure more inclusive and accessible systems has proven to be insufficient. Numerous countries lack the resources required to expand the existing formal education systems accordingly.
It is therefore necessary to provide education not only through formal delivery systems, but equally through equivalent and flexible non-formal in order to reach and meet all children’s learning needs.
While some countries including India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia have made large advances in achieving EFA goals for adults and youth through FLS programmes, the need for school-aged children remains. Developing and targeting FLS adapted to OOSC is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty.
Educational investments strengthen individuals as well as the society at large. FlS assist in providing those educational rights to those hardest to reach. In order to accelerate progress and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2 and Education for All (EFA) 2, FLS must be acknowledged and provided as a complement to conventional schooling for children in non-traditional and difficult circumstances.
What is Flexible Learning Strategies?
FLS is an umbrella term for the provision of flexible, systematic and rights-based interventions. They adapt to context-specific barriers and sensitivities often overlooked in traditional systems, by acknowledging the range of circumstances and needs of OOSC.
Regardless of duration, mode and place of delivery, the programmes are acknowledged as equivalent and complementary to existing formal or vocational education. Equivalency allows learners to study in adapted non-formal schools and gain formal qualifications equivalent to formal schools. This facilitates their reintegration into national systems and society at large.
Who do Flexible Learning Strategies Target?
Initially based largely on school enrollment, exclusion is equally present for children most at risk within school systems. Educational barriers range from deeply-rooted inequalities such as gender, wealth, ethnicity and location preventing more children from enrolling, staying, learning and actively participating in formal schooling systems.
Who is excluded from basic education?
57 million children of primary school age currently remain excluded from formal education globally. Of these 18 million primary school-aged children are out-of-school in the Asia-Pacific region. This figure makes up approximately one third of the total OOSC count globally. Furthermore, these numbers are likely to be an underestimate. In depth country studies led by UNICEF and UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) for the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children (OOSCI) indicate much larger values.