Ghana’s efforts at reducing illiteracy could be traced to the 1950s when Dr. Nkrumah’s government adopted a two pronged approach to achieve universal primary education and adult literacy through the Education Act of 1961 and the Mass Literacy Programme. However, there was a momentary break in the progress of literacy organisation in Ghana after 1966. Indeed, literacy was organized but it was by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), which was on piecemeal basis. It was however in 1985 when the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) indicated their desire to launch a national literacy programme. This desire was actualized in 1987 when the Non-Formal Education Division (NFED) of the Ministry of Education was established.
In order to launch a national programme, a pilot was initiated in Apam and Tono/Vea in the Central and Upper East Regions. In 1992 the National Functional Literacy Programme (NFLP) went national with donor support.
The First Phase implementation commenced from 1992 and ended in 1997. During this phase, the programme enrolled 1,373,571 learners, surpassing the original enrolment target by over 60%. Phase I targeted specific groups particularly the rural population and female non-literates. Since 1999, the programme has gone through Phase II (2002-2006) with an enrolment of 1,165,971 learners. Special attention was also given to the three regions in the north of Ghana, which had over 1.4 million of the total illiteracy estimated figure of 5 million (15 years and above) (Census Report, 2000). Significant gains have been made under both Phases (I & II) of the NFLP.
Vision: Empowered people through non-formal education
Mission: To coordinate non-formal education activities and offers quality and equitable lifelong learning opportunities for youths and adults outside formal education and provides functional literacy and skills development programmes across Ghana.
Development Objectives: To increase the number of functionally literate Ghanaians particularly women, youth, people with disabilities, other marginalized groups and the rural poor. Since 1997, some achievement has been made in reducing illiteracy in the country. Under the First and Second Phases of the NFLP 1.2 million and 1 million adults respectively graduated.
PROGRAMME COVERAGE AND SUPPORT
The NFLP is being implemented in all the 10 regions of Ghana. Regional and District Offices are manned by coordinators. Each district is divided into zones manned by zonal supervisors. These supervisors directly oversee literacy activities and the work of volunteer facilitators in communities under their jurisdiction.
In collaboration with development partners, Government has and continues to support the programme since it’s launching in 1991. The programme’s major sponsor during NFLP 1 and 11 was the World Bank. Other supporting sponsors were the British Department for International Development (DFID), the Norwegian and Japanese Government, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Canadian Organization for Development of Education (CODE).
ACHIEVEMENTS OF NFED
1992-1997 turned out 1.2 million adult learners while phase II (2000-2006) also graduated over one million learners. Thousands of non-literates are still benefiting from the programme. Graduates were equipped with reading, writing, numeracy, life skills, good citizenship, civic awareness and income generation skills to enable them contribute effectively to the development of their communities and the nation at large.