This paper examines the literacy scenario firmly rooted in the historical context. Secondly, it reviews the international and national policy commitments to literacy and adult education in view of evolving conceptualization of literacy, learning and education for adults. Thirdly, it examines the current understanding of literacy and AE in Bangladesh, the trends in practices and interventions ensuing from the predominant concepts. Fourthly, it attempts to anchor the Bangladeshi experience of AE within international development. Finally, it proposes an agenda for action around ALE in Bangladesh, drawing from international experiences and commitments.

I. Literacy: Historical Context and Evolving Conceptualisation

While reading and writing has been around for thousands of years, it has been the privilege of a select minority until the middle of this century. Only since the Second World War, when decolonization took place on a massive scale, literacy has been proclaimed as an inalienable right of man, and gradually universal literacy has been included on national and international agenda.


Generally non-formal literacy program are primer or text book dependent in Bangladesh. Primer is the book which used for adult literacy. Here the contents of primer and the learning method are determined by the respective organization. There is a little role of learners to determine what they learn and how they learn. Primer based adult literacy approaches are—

(a) Alphabetic approach
(b) Entire word approach
(c) Entire sentence approach
(d) Phonetic approach
(e) Psycho-phonetic approach
(f) Language approach
(g) Eclectic approach

Above them a non-primer based approach for adult literacy is REFLECT approach which introduced by ActionAid Bangladesh. This article mainly discuss about the non-primer based approach REFLECT. Here REFLECT approach is defined in the view of ActionAid Bangladesh because in Bangladesh it is the prominent organization which used it as their delivery approach.


In this paper, the author is going to describe the achievements and  challenges of the non-formal education for enhancing adult literacy in the nine high population (E-91) countries. More than half of the world population as well as a lion share of adult illiterates are living in the E-9 countries. Hence, the non-formal education is playing a supporting role to bolster adult literacy in these countries.

This paper focuses on the post Education for All (EFA) era on the goal of adult literacy of these countries with a special emphasis on the UNESCO’s perspectives on the issues of literacy. The paper is organized as the following. The section II, UNESCO’s perspective on Education, highlights briefly the commitment of the UNESCO for the EFA and presents some initiatives that the UNESCO has already takes in response to this. Since the concept of literacy is not static, section III, UNESCO and Literacy, discusses about the evolving concepts of UNESCO on literacy. The following section IV, Adult Literacy and E-9 Countries, addresses the status of the adult literacy in the E-9 countries. The next section V, Literacy and Non-formal Education in the E-9 Countries, illustrates the necessity of the non-formal education for providing support on adult literacy programs in the E-9 countries, followed by the section VI, Non-Formal Education in the Three E-9 Countries (Pakistan, Nigeria, Brazil), that describes the achievements and the challenges in three E-9 countries which were selected from three different continents. Lastly, the concluding section gives a gist of the whole discussion as well as mentions some areas for further study.

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