Distance Learning for Adults: Radio ECCA Project for Socioeconomic Development

Country Profile: Cape Verde


519,000 (2006 estimate)

Official Language


Internet Users per 1000 Inhabitants

35 (2002)

Households Possessing a Radio Receiver

66% (2002)

Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)

87.8% (2005)

Total Youth Literacy Rate (15–24 years)

96% (1995-2004)

Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2004)
  • Total: 81%
  • Male: 88%
  • Female: 76%

Programme Overview

Programme TitleDistance Learning for Adults: Radio ECCA Project for Socio-Economic Development (Cape Verde)
Language of InstructionPortuguese
Programme PartnersGovernment of Cape Verde
Spanish Agency for International Cooperation
Regional Government of the Canary Islands
Date of Inception2002

Context and Background

Cape Verde is an archipelago consisting of ten islands. Although primary education is mandatory for children between 6 and 14 years and free for those between 6 and 12 years, access to education is still a major challenge for most people due to poverty and low educational investment, including investment in manpower and school development. Adult distance learning and the use of information and communication technologies in learning is therefore regarded as a vital means of increasing people's access to education. Distance education is also officially recognised by law as a means of reducing geographical/regional disparities and promoting equality of opportunities in education and training for all young people and adults as well as a vehicle for promoting national development. The Law of Foundations of the Education System of Cape Verde establishes “Distance Education” as a special modality of education, which “shall complement recurrent and continuing education”. The law also stipulates that learning achievements gained through distance education should be recognised as equivalent to those gained through the formal education system.


The experimental/pilot phase of the distance learning programme for youth and adults based on the Adult Distance Learning (ECCA System) began in 1999 with financial and technical support from the Government of Cape Verde, the Regional Government of the Canary Islands and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation. Since then, the programme has evolved and expanded in different phases. Between 2002 and 2005, the “Adult Distance Learning (ECCA System) for the Economic Development of Cape Verde” project was launched and implemented. This was followed by the launch of the educational radio service programme in 2003, which is still operational (see: http://www.radioecca.org/).

In addition, the current phase (2006-2011) of the adult distance education programme is being implemented. The principal goal of the Adult Distance Learning programme (ECCA System) is to support the National Programme of Adult Education and Training, which combines distance education with adult basic education, secondary education, and vocational education and training, as well as community learning for development.


The current programme (2006-2011), Training for the Design and Implementation of an Integrated Adult Distance Learning and Training System (ECCA System) for the Economic Development of Cape Verde and Related Curricular Design is an expanded follow-up of the 2002-2005 version. The programme is intended to enable all out-of-school youth and adults to access education, regardless of their literacy skills or levels of formal education and economic status.


The general goal of the programme is to set up a national training system for out-of-school youths and adults that is based on distance learning and uses radio communication and other ICTs as a means of learning. At the same time, curriculum and learning materials should be designed in order to improve the current face-to-face teaching system. Therefore, the specific objectives of the programme are to:

Approaches and Methodologies

Training of Professionals in the Distance Learning System

Members of the Ministry of Education’s technical staff are being given intensive training in the use of the ECCA Distance Learning System in order to enable them to perform the different functions and tasks related to its implementation. One of the tasks is the development of an Integral System of Adult Education and Training, based on a renewed and expanded vision of education and training. It is an integral, plural, open and flexible system intended to train youth, adults and their communities. It recognises the prior learning and life experiences that adults have already gained and sees the training of adults as a competency-based process of lifelong learning. It lays the foundations for a national system of recognition, validation and certification for the competencies that adults have acquired through formal, non-formal and informal channels.


A first version of a competency-based and modular Curricular Design for Adult Education and Training is being prepared. Instead of individual subjects, the curriculum focuses on four main areas (communication, knowledge, citizenship and employment) in order to develop four key competencies, 22 skills and 180 items for evaluation. Most of the thematic areas support the development of the tourist industry and some are related to food, languages (English, Spanish and French), sales and customer services, receptionist duties, leisure and entertainment, tourist guide activities, environmental education, community development and computer programmes, among others. The innovative feature of this new curricular design is the inclusion of distance learning; a methodology which strengthens the activities carried out so far by the DGAEA.

A further project activity consists of conducting a technical study for the creation of a nation-wide educational radio service to provide equipment to radio studios. In addition, there are plans to install seven radio stations and distribute computers with Internet access to nine adult education and training centres during the “embryonic” stage of the digital literacy project. Furthermore, the DGAEA will be equipped with printing facilities to enable support materials to be produced autonomously. A telecommunications centre will be installed to improve internal and external communication. A webpage and a virtual collaborative environment will help learners and facilitators communicate and exchange information. The project is aimed at transferring the ECCA Adult Distance Learning System technologies to the DGAEA in order to help it implement the national adult education and training system.

Methods of Distance Learning and Teaching

The ECCA Distance Learning System is based on the synchronised use of three elements: print materials, radio classes and orientation tutorials:

Programme Impact and Achievements

Lessons Learned



Florenço Mendes Varela
Director Geral de Alfabetização e Educação de Adultos
Rua Pedagogo Paulo Freire, nº 1
Achada Santo António
Cabo Verde
Email: fmendes50 (at) hotmail.com

Web Links


Last update: 8 December 2009