Community-based Adult Learning and Development Programme, Philippines

  • Date published:
    4 March 2016

Programme Overview

Programme Title Community-based Adult Learning and Development Programme
Implementing Organization People’s Initiative for Learning and Community Development
Funding dvv International
Annual Programme Costs US$ 30 000


The People’s Initiative for Learning and Community Development (PILCD) is a national NGO that was established in 2002. It is now a member of national and regional literacy and education organizations such as the Civil Society for Education Reforms or E-net Philippines (a national coalition of NGOs for education reforms); the Asia South Pacific Bureau for Adult Education (ASPBAE); the Regional Literacy Coordinating Council of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and the NGO Consultative Assembly of the National Literacy Coordinating Council.

PILCD primarily endeavours to develop and implement alternative learning programmes for community development. To this end, it has been implementing the Community-based Adult Learning and Development Programme (CALDP), which is intended to institutionalise alternative learning for development at grass-roots levels in an effort to enhance the capacity of local communities to address proactively the social, political and economic challenges afflicting them as well as to increase their standard of life.

Context and Background


While the literacy rate in the Philippines is high (over 90%), a Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS, 2003) revealed that about 3.8 million Filipinos aged 10 years and over were unable to read and write, while a further 9.2 million were functionally illiterate. The FLEMMS also noted that of the 34.2 million Filipinos aged between 6-24 years, 11.6 million were not attending school, of which 1.2 million were children of primary school age (6-11 years old), 1.0 million were of secondary school age (12-15 years old), and 9.4 million were in the tertiary age group (16-24 years old). In addition, the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FEIS, 2003) indicated that about 44.5% of household heads had had elementary education at most, while a further 33.9% had reached secondary level and 21.6% had attended college with less than half earning a college degree. These data indicate that despite a progressive increase in national literacy rates over the years, some Filipinos, particularly poor people in urban slums and remote rural areas as well as indigenous populations, have limited opportunities to gain access to quality formal education. As a result, PILCD initiated the Community-based Adult Learning and Development Programme (CALDP) with the aim of addressing the learning and educational needs of these disadvantaged people.


The Community-based Adult Learning and Development Programme (CALDP) is currently being implemented in three local municipalities in the Province of Benguet and the City of Baguio. The programme enrols between 150 and 200 adult and youth learners per year and has an annual budget of about US$ 30 000. Due to the ethnic and linguistic diversity of the Philippines, the programme employs a multilingual approach to learning instruction and thus uses regional languages, Filipino and English in order to enable learners to effectively comprehend the concepts being taught.

CALDP focuses primarily on four key areas:


  • Basic and advanced literacy: Development and implementation of needs-oriented, context-based and innovative basic education programmes for adults and out-of-school children in marginalised communities and vulnerable groups. This is promoted through the use of in-house, modular and computer-based learning approaches.
  • Capacity-building: Skills are enhanced through training in project development, vocational trades, rural development, leadership and management, governance, livelihood and income generation.
  • Sustainable agriculture education: Continuing education programme for small farmers focusing on sustainable agriculture (including soil management, crop systems, and pest/disease management), leadership and entrepreneurship/business training.
  • Lobbying and advocacy for the enhanced provision of community-based adult learning programmes.

Aims and Objectives

The programme endeavours to:


  • enhance the levels of functional literacy among marginalised and vulnerable individuals and social groups/communities;
  • use literacy skills development as an instrument of poverty alleviation, sustainable community development and environmental protection;
  • enhance the capacity of marginalised communities to engage in sustainable livelihood activities including agricultural production;
  • promote community self-organization; and
  • empower marginalised communities/people to participate actively in socio-political civic life.

Programme Implementation: Approaches and Methodologies

Curriculum Design and Development

CALDP actively combines literacy skills training with sustainable development at both the individual and community levels. The design and development of the programme is based on the situational reality of the learners, but also incorporates aspects of broader national and global relevance. These realities serve as learning references to enable learners not only to face their problems but, most importantly, to proactively seek functional solutions to these challenges in a way that supports individual and community growth and development. As the programme is community-based, learners are furthermore consulted with regard to its design and development, and the results of these consultative engagements help to frame the programme curriculum.

Recruitment and Training of Trainers

Programme facilitators are usually regular PILCD staff with university qualifications in education, psychology and sociology. Additional facilitators are hired according to need and should preferably have had a university education. The facilitators are provided with professional training by PILCD on adult learning theories, teaching and learning methods, lesson planning and development, and creative facilitation using the Activity-Discussion-Input-Deepening-Synthesis (ADIDS) approach which incorporates theatre skills and the visual arts. Each facilitator is trained to deal with between 25 and 30 learners.

Regular PILCD staff/facilitators receive a monthly salary which is provided for under the programme funding agreement. Additional facilitators hired according to need are paid an honorarium by the local partner government which is based on the hours or days served.

Enrolment of Learners

PILCD, in partnership with community leaders, NGOs and local government officials, undertakes literacy and development sensitisation and advocacy campaigns to encourage target groups to enrol into the programme. In order for the campaign to be effective and yield the intended results, PILCD engages community and local government officials through consultative meetings during which CALDP’s goals and objectives are explained. In addition, PILCD also arranges campaign activities and orientation meetings with potential learners and other community members. A further incentive for prospective learners and their communities is that the programme is provided free of charge.

Teaching/Learning Approaches and Methodologies


CALDP learning sessions are held on a regular but flexible basis based on an analysis of the participants' learning needs, levels of literacy, educational gaps and intended outcomes. These are identified through a series of pre-enrolment Functional Literacy Tests (FLT) and group-based activities. In addition, learners contribute towards establishing the learning calendar by choosing the days and times that best suit them. In the past, CALDP sessions have been held once or twice a week, or one week per month according to learners’ availability.

To avoid facilitator-centred instruction, several teaching methods are used. These range from traditional lectures with multi-media presentations to group-based activities, modular-based learning, field demonstrations, games and creative arts that take participants’ different learning styles and contexts into account. However, particular emphasis is placed on action-based learning using the ADIDS model, whereby learners are encouraged to engage in simulated or real project activities that contribute to the overall development of the project. This “hands-on” approach is intended to empower learners and allow them to make their own discoveries. It has been used successfully in agricultural lessons with small farmers in Buduias, where PILCD has established an agricultural demonstration farm for practical lessons.


Furthermore, the programme provides learners with self-administered supplementary learning modules which they can use alone or in study groups during their spare time. Most modules are developed by PILCD based on the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) learning modules provided by the Department of Education’s Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS), while others are developed independently by NGOs.

Similarly, PILCD employs various strategies to motivate learners and their communities to participate in the programme. Apart from the advocacy campaigns and the provision of free lessons, the CALDP also offers developmental literacy training in a number of areas such as: basic and advanced literacy; computer literacy; music and art workshops; cultural activities; life skills; and livelihood and income generation training, particularly in agricultural production. This is intended to cater effectively to learners’ diverse interests; for example, adult males are more inclined to join agricultural classes, whereas youth tends to enrol in basic education and literacy classes.

CALDP learners receive further motivation to pursue their studies due to the possibility offered to them of taking the A&E test administered each year by the Department of Education’s Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS). Participants who pass this test are awarded high school graduation certificates by the Department of Education, which enable them to continue to higher education or seek formal employment at a similar level to formal school graduates.

Programme Impact and Challenges

Monitoring and Evaluation


Facilitators are obliged to evaluate the programme on an ongoing basis through end-of-session tests. Longer tests are also taken in order to enable the evaluation of long-term learning outcomes as well as to prepare learners for the A&E tests.

In addition, learners also evaluate the programme by means of a learning feedback diary (LFD) which is principally an essay detailing the learning experiences, and suggesting ways of improving the programme.

However, the programme has still to be evaluated by independent external examiners.

Impact and Achievements

The CALDP has been applauded for advancing the inter-twined goals of literacy skills training and community development. The following lists its key impacts and achievements:

  • Primarily, the programme provides adults and youth in remote and poor rural communities – the majority of whom have limited or no experience of education – with alternative learning opportunities to enhance their literacy skills. Most of the programme participants are now able to read and write, as well as to plan and organise their livelihood activities. Most importantly, since 2004, a total of 189 CALDP graduates learners have passed the national A&E test and have now completed their high school education. Others have managed to secure formal employment.
  • The programme has had a significant impact on communities, particularly in terms of poverty alleviation, economic empowerment and the improvement of quality of life. For example, members of a women’s organization who participated in the programme were subsequently able to install a community water system in Bayoyo village, while a mothers’ organization in Taba-ao established a hog project. These livelihood and income generation activities have raised community standards of life. Both projects are a by-product of an ongoing learning programme on literacy and capacity building. The organizations’ members and officers received training in leadership, organizational and project development skills during twice-monthly sessions. The development of the two community projects involved the participants in the entire process of project development.
  • The agricultural training programme that was initiated in 2003 has enabled some farmers to adopt and utilise sustainable farming practices, such as the use of organic fertilisers and appropriate strategies for managing pests and diseases. For example, two farmers from Buguias have converted to organic farming. Both are now marketing their organic vegetable produce, an outcome that has improved their standards of life.

Lessons Learned

  • Coordination and cooperation with government departments and NGOs involved in community development activities facilitates the implementation and success of community-based literacy and development projects.
  • The integration of literacy with developmental skills training increases the capacity of learners to engage in self-help and collective socio-economic activities, such as managing income-generating projects and initiating community actions that address common challenges. Hence, literacy training paves the way for greater individual participation in processes of community development.
  • In order to be effective, community-based literacy and development programmes must be developed and implemented in such a way as to avoid alienating learners from their contexts: i.e. context-specific realities and needs must be taken into account. It is therefore imperative to consult and implicate the community at all levels of the programme’s evolution. Furthermore, literacy training should train learners to find functional solutions to the challenges they face in their everyday lives. Graduates’ ability to do so encourages other learners to join literacy programmes.


The sustainability of the programme is being ensured through intensive lobbying and advocacy campaigns within the communities that raises community awareness of the importance of education and encourages people to enrol in the programme. Similar efforts are being made to encourage national and local government units to institutionalise literacy and adult education programmes within their development plans. In addition, PILCD is establishing partnerships with governmental and non-governmental institutions in order to secure reliable sources of additional project funding. Partnerships like this have enabled PILCD to expand CALDP to other communities.




Ramon G. Mapa
Executive Director
162 Friendly Homes Subdivision, BPI Compound
2600 Baguio City, Philippines
Phone/Fax: (63974) 6190100
E-mail: pilcd.org@gmail.com
Website: www.pilcd.org

For citation please use

U. Hanemann (Ed.). Last update: 20 July 2017. Community-based Adult Learning and Development Programme, Philippines. UNESCO Institute for Lifelong learning. (Accessed on: 3 December 2023, 02:15 CET)

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