Joint Programme: Supporting the Promotion of Education for All – Non-Formal Education

Country Profile: Madagascar


20,042,551 (2008 estimate)

Poverty (Population living on less than US$1 per day):

61.0% (1990-2004)

Official Languages

Malagasy, French, English

Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP


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

71% (2005)

Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)

70% (1995-2004)

Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2004)
  • Total: 71%
  • Male: 65%
  • Female: 77%

Programme Overview

Programme TitleJoint Programme: Supporting the Promotion of Education for All – Non-Formal Education
Implementing OrganizationMalagasy Government; United Nations System
FundingUnited Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Date of Inception2001–


In 1999, Madagascar established a national programme aimed at developing primary education. However, the internal efficiency of the traditional system was poor and more than 60 percent of children failed to progress to the second year of primary education. Among the contributing factors identified were:

The government therefore called on the United Nations system to work in partnership to develop a programme that would promote basic education for all and achieve a significant increase in literacy and educational levels.

Joint Programme

Developed within the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) exercise, the programme was funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and assisted by UNESCO experts. The programme concept was developed by sixty officials from various ministries, with support from domestic and international consultants, as well as United Nations focal points. This broad-based expertise ensured that the programme was built on the policy frameworks, development strategies and various commitments to which Madagascar had agreed.

It was anticipated that activities would be conducted in areas with a high prevalence of poverty and a low provision and take-up of education. During the first phase of the programme, four (out of six) provinces were selected accordingly and 1,000 literacy sites established. The initial stage, which ran from 2001-2005, provided an opportunity to implement and test the technical and financial feasibility of various innovative methodological approaches, which have now been shown to be effective. The programme has now entered its second phase and covers the entire island.

Target Groups

The programme caters for groups whose educational and training needs are not being met by the current formal education system. These include:


The overall objective of the programme is to improve the accessibility of basic education, as well as the contexts and conditions in which learning takes place. The specific objectives are to:

In addition, the package of programme activities includes capacity-building for community management and the purchase of inputs and small-scale basic start-up equipment.

Programme Implementation

The programme has contributed to the development of the country’s non-formal education policy and introduced three innovative methodological approaches:

  1. Intensive Functional Literacy for Development (AFI-D)
  2. Basic Technical and Vocational Training (FTPB)
  3. School Support Action for Malagasy Teenagers (ASAMA)

Intensive Functional Literacy for Development (AFI-D)


AFI-D has been conducted for adults aged 17 and above as a means of achieving social, economic and cultural development. It consists of initial literacy (six to eight hours per day for 48 days) and additional basic training (36 days). The language of instruction is Malagasy. In addition to literacy, arithmetic and basic book-keeping, there are also awareness-raising discussions on agriculture, the rearing of livestock, fishing, the environment, health, HIV and AIDS, civic education and parenting. The aim of these discussions is to encourage behavioural change and thereby improve learners’ quality of life. For the additional basic training, more specific topics are chosen by the learners themselves. Examples include traditional fishing and fish-trading, tourism, and the protection of biodiversity.

Facilitators are given a six-week intensive training course by trainers, who in turn receive an intensive six-week training course by universities. Facilitators are resource persons from NGOs responsible for delivering literacy services. To ensure community ownership, they should live in the same village as the learners. The unit cost per person for the two stages of initial literacy and basic further training is between US$22 and US$25, including logistics, the training itself and the teaching equipment used.

Basic Technical and Vocational Training (FTPB)

FTPB is conducted for newly-literate adults. In groups of 18, they are trained in a trade of their choice, such as agriculture, the rearing of livestock, tailoring and sewing or carpentry/joinery. Training is delivered by local resource persons and lasts between ten days and three months depending on the trade. Learners who have already formed partnerships may subsequently apply for micro-credits or receive a small loan to purchase inputs and small-scale start-up equipment.

School Support Action for Malagasy Teenagers (ASAMA)

ASAMA addresses adolescents aged 12 to17 and incorporates all of the subjects recommended by the national curriculum. The language of instruction is Malagasy, with the exception of French lessons. The entire five-year primary school curriculum is covered in three blocks over a ten-month period. ASAMA educators receive three ten-day sessions of special training. Moreover, they must also demonstrate an outstanding ability to communicate, even in the most difficult of circumstances. They should also display a profound knowledge of the primary education content. With a class size of 25 learners, the unit cost per learner amounted to $104.29 for 2003/2004, which included $55.71 for the facilitators and $48.57 for logistical costs (such as school meals).


Before starting the ASAMA programme, learners can follow a six-week learn-to-read course through Ambohitsoratra, which is a special way of learning to read in Malagasy through participatory and mainly playful techniques of learning inspired by the “Planet of the Alphas” method. The methodological approach relies heavily on the participation of the adolescent, who is to a large extent responsible for his or her own learning. It draws on the learner’s life experience and feelings, and addresses children aged 10 and older.

Ambohitsoratra fosters learning by selecting a tale and personalising the letters of the alphabet in such a way as to make the story feel “real”. Learners spot and recognise characters as they are listening and observing the story.

The training period is designed to last a total of one and a half months, and comprises 40 two-hour sessions, excluding evaluation sessions.

The conditions for attendance are 1) the provision of a birth certificate; and 2) the existence of a public primary school near the child’s place of residence that admits children above the standard age for T1. Moreover, participation often depends on the financial means of the parents.

Characteristics of the Joint Programme

Programmes are characterised by:

Structure and Monitoring

From 2001 to 2007, the joint programme was overseen by the Literacy Directorate of the Ministry of Population. It is currently being supervised by the Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research. The monitoring process consists of a series of tests that are sent to all facilitators, as well as evaluation reports written by the programme agents and the Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research.

One national and six regional committees are responsible for the operational running of the joint programme, with over 100 NGOs as implementing partners. Technical service providers at the community level are responsible for selecting intervention sites. Each province has a Provincial Piloting Committee, and there is also a national-level Council for Guidance and Validation. Since 2006, training for facilitators has been decentralised to provincial capitals.

In order to create a literate environment, multi-purpose resource centres serving as libraries and information units have been established at the community level. These centres are set up in existing structures or buildings supplied by the community administration.

For its implementation, the joint programme relies on social mobilisation at grassroots level, the rational use of local resources and the development of partnerships. It centres on literacy and constitutional capacity-building activities. Communities’ capacities are currently being built so that they can take over the running of literacy activities in the long term.


Achievements varied according to programme:

1. AFI-D



4. Ambohitsoratra 'The Planet of the Alphas'

Challenges and Future Plans

The current challenge, according to the government’s road map, is to scale these methodologies up to the national level. Efforts are being made to mobilise resources and raise awareness at the regional and international levels in order to increase the visibility of and support for the programme. As far as possible, the programme will be extended, i.e. to give a larger proportion of neo-literates who have participated in the AFI-D- programme the chance to reach the FTPB. In turn, a greater proportion of people trained in the FTPB should get the opportunity to access micro-credits and thus to organise themselves. As members of village associations they can learn to improve their production and marketing capacities, and take charge of their 'educational village'.

Lessons Learned

The programmes have highlighted the importance of:



Raymondine Williette Rakotondrazaka
National Coordinator
National Coordination and Implementation Committee
Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research
Lot AVB 127 A
Avarabohitra Itaosy
E-mail: cnce (at)