Non-Formal Education Programming
An approach to increasing enrollment into the formal system
From 2013 to 2016 Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) enrolled a total of 42,454 refugee and host community children in their non-formal education programs (on average 10,000 children per year). Over the years the program has adapted to the context by moving from purely emergency education implemented in a non-formal setting, to an approach aimed at facilitating enrolment into the Lebanese formal education system.
- Currently NRC's non-formal education modules are in line with the "Non-Formal Education Framework" included in the MEHE strategy "Reaching All Children through Education" and are aimed at facilitating enrolment and retention in the public formal education system.
- Modules included in the MEHE Non-Formal Education Framework and implemented by NRC are i) Community Based Early Childhood Education for children or pre-school age; ii) Basic Literacy and Numeracy classes of out-of-school children; and iii) Retention / Homework support classes for children at risk of dropping out of the formal public system.
- NRC uses a holistic approach to teaching and includes parents and teachers in decision making for purposes of improving the wider learning environment of each individual child.
- NRC's regional psycho-social support program, "Better Learning Program", is mainstreamed throughout each module.
Through a structured questionnaire conducted as part of this case study, NRC conducted phone calls with a representative sample of approximately 400 children per geographical area of intervention, the North, the South and the Bekaa Valley. The parents of children who were referred to public schools at the start of the 2015/2016 academic year, after attending NRC non-formal education classes, were asked whether their children were still enrolled now, almost two years later. We looked at whether there was a difference between children who attended the more emergency focused Child Education Pack (CEP), part of phase one of NRC's three phased approach, and children who attended Catch Up / Basic Literacy and Numeracy classes, part of phase two of NRC's three phased approach. In addition, we looked at whether children who are currently receiving Learning / Remedial Support have improved retention and transition rates.
- Assessment data following the implementation of Basic Literacy and Numeracy in the south of Lebanon through Kavli funding in 2016, showed that 76% of the children who attended classes, successfully enrolled in formal public education. This is exactly in line with the 76% children who managed to successfully enroll in the first round of the MEHE Accelerated Learning Program this year, after following NRC's Basic Literacy and Numeracy and School Readiness (Community Based Early Childhood Education) classes.
- Every refugee child is different. Refugee children have diverse educational backgrounds, diverse needs and diverse dreams which change over time. Hence the need for a varied education offer, flexible enough to adjust to changing realities, targeting different age groups at distinct levels, and offering both education, recreation as well as psycho-social support.
- Effective communication and maximum transparency towards authorities, host communities and refugee children and their parents, in combination with their participation in development, implementation and monitoring of education programs, creates an ideal environment for effective education programming.
- Long-term funding agreements with more than one donor ensures flexibility and sustainability, and allows a focus on quality implementation rather than on reaching targets.