Our Word (Ñane Ñe'ẽ)

Country Profile: Paraguay


6.8 million (2013)

Total Expenditure on Education as % of GDP

5% (2011)

Official Languages

Spanish and Guaraní

Youth literacy late (15-24 years - 2015)

Total 99 %
Men 98.6 %
Women 99.4 %

Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 2015)

Total 95.5% Men 96.1% Women 94.9%


UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Programme Overview

Programme TitleOur Word (Ñane Ñe'ẽ)
Implementing OrganizationDirección General de Educación Permanente (DGEP), Ministerio de Educación y Cultura (MEC) - Directorate-General of Lifelong Education in the Ministry of Education and Culture
Language of InstructionSpanish and Guaraní
FundingPublic treasury
Programme Partnersdepartmental governments, local governments, civil society organizations, other state organizations
Annual Programme CostsGs. 1,538,754,282 (approx. USD 327,000). Annual Programme Cost per Student: Gs. 2,051,672 (approx. USD 436)
Date of Inception2010

Country Context

Although Paraguay has made great progress in facilitating equal access to education for all people, for example through its multiple national and international adult literacy initiatives, access to educational programmes among the country’s rural population continues to be very limited. The group with least access is the female rural population living in poverty or extreme poverty.

Despite successes in reducing the illiteracy rate in the country, equal access to education continues to pose enormous challenges; illiteracy is after all among the key causes of social exclusion and therefore an issue that still needs extensive tackling in Latin American countries (Bareiro, 2013).

In Paraguay, the illiteracy rate is 5.4%. The illiteracy rate for rural areas (9,4%) is considerably higher than for urban areas (2,9%). Lastly, the rate of illiterate women is higher (6.1%) than that of illiterate men (4.6%) (Encuesta Permanente de Hogares – EPH/ Permanent Household Survey, 2014.

Description of the programme

The Dirección General de Educación Permanente (DGEP), via its Departamento de Alfabetización (Literacy Department), implements non-formal literacy and post-literacy programmes for young people and adults. Its objective is to promote literacy among people of fifteen and above who have no literacy (people who can neither read nor write), and those who have functional literacy (people whose reading and writing skills are inadequate to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level). In addition to literacy, the programmes also offer complementary employability skills and vocational training courses.

The programmes implemented are as follows: PRODEPA Prepara and Ñane Ñe´ẽ. The following section describes the post-literacy programme Ñane Ñe´ẽ.

The post-literacy programme Ñane Ñe´ẽ is a non-formal, bilingual (Spanish–Guaraní) programme for young people and adults of fifteen and above who have so far been unable to complete their formal basic education. It is aimed at vulnerable groups in particular, including the rural farming population, the indigenous population, people deprived of their liberty, and people living in extreme poverty, and comprises two phases: the Fortalecimiento (Strengthening) module, and the Consolidación (Consolidation) module.

The programme enables its participants to improve their literacy, to recognize their fundamental rights, to get involved in local organizational matters, and to capitalize on the vocational skills they have developed by establishing commissions promoting self-employment.

Objectives of the programme

The principal objectives of the post-literacy programme Ñane Ñe´ẽ are as follows:

Programme Implementation

The post-literacy programme Ñane Ñe´ẽ is based mainly on the ethical-pedagogical ideas of the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire: “It involves generating spaces for dialogue with the participants that promote development of a critical conscience. Through dialogue, participants express their opinions and listen to others, they discover concepts that make them better able to understand their reality, they select ideas and questions that they consider valid. That is to say, they reflect collectively,” (DGEP, 2011).

This pedagogical approach draws on the following premises:

The programme comprises two modules:

  1. The Fortalecimiento module: This module strengthens participants’ reading, writing and basic mathematical reasoning skills and encourages them to reflect on topics such as the environment, health, social change, gender relations, and human rights. It involves 24 aligning sessions (participants varying levels are brought into alignment) and 48 strengthening sessions.
  2. The Consolidación module: Through reflection and action, participants consolidate their reading, writing and basic mathematical reasoning skills. This module also requires them to take part in a community project in which they reflect on the principles of gender equality, democratic participation, sustainable development and human rights. It lasts eight months.

The community projects within the Consolidación module are the culmination of a process that sees participants reflect on, analyse and identify the basic needs of their community. They involve participants passing from the reflection phase to the action and intervention phase. This action and intervention can involve responding to some of the more urgent individual or collective needs of their communities. These can be needs within the area of public health (vaccination, mother-and-child care, better road access) or needs relating to active citizenship and participation rights, for instance to obtain identity cards, participation in public audiences or in productive projects (e.g. in the cultivation of domestic or community gardens, in volunteer environmental work, in the building of community centres with municipal support, etc.)

In the year 2014, a total of 232 participants began the Fortalecimiento module, with 197 completing the post-literacy process. Of these 197 people, 95% were women and 5% men. The participants were distributed across 13 learning circles: 7 in the district of Horqueta, 6 in the districts of Yby Yau and Concepción, and 1 in Asunción. Around 13% of participants dropped out.

The programme works with learning circles in which the literacy facilitators encourage participants to learn from each other. The task of creating new learning circles takes place once the regions in which the programme is to be offered have been selected. The criteria and indicators used in the selection process focus on identifying regions with high levels of poverty and of illiteracy.

The following people are involved in the programme:


The graphic on the right shows all the roles involved in implementing the programme.

As regards staff remuneration, every facilitator and vocational instructor receives a stipend of 4,800,000 guaraníes for the development of the programme, which corresponds to 7 months of work, divided into three payments of 1,600,000 guaraníes. At the current exchange rate, this is equivalent to 1,020 US dollars. In Paraguay, an adult educator receives a monthly salary of 1,824,055 guaraníes or 389 US dollars.

Teaching - Learning methodology

In the circles, much of the learning takes place on a reciprocal basis through the dialogue that occurs both among the participants and between the participants and their educators. Such dialogue, which is driven by the life experiences, feelings and knowledge that participants contribute, effectively turns the participants themselves into teachers. The role of the educator, then, is to guide participants and to help them capitalize on the knowledge they already have and further develop in the sessions, by advancing their reading, writing and mathematical skills.

The literacy programme comprises a series of non-formal learning circles. These are get-togethers at which reflexive and comparative learning of reading and writing of language and mathematical reasoning is enabled.

The programme provides for sixty such get-togethers, which take place twice a week, with the purpose to develop reading, writing and mathematical skills. The Formación Profesional/ Capacitación Laboral courses (vocational and employability skills courses) comprise approximately 100 hours and involve two meetings per week for a period of five months. Each meeting lasts for around 2 and a half hours. Once participants have completed the Fortalecimiento stage, they automatically transfer into the Consolidación stage.

The get-togethers are planned by a facilitator; each has a beginning (where the session content and objectives are explained), a development phase, and a close (where participants summarize what they have learned). Learning in the Formación Profesional (vocational skills training) courses is based mainly on practical exercises; the sessions here vary in duration according to the topics they focus on and the characteristics of the group.

In the Programa de Pos Alfabetización (post-literacy programme), learning takes place through a process of critically analyzing and then collectively reflecting on the participants' situations, with a view to then inspiring the necessary changes in participants' realities.

The literacy classes or get-togethers are conducted in both Guaraní and Spanish (40% and 60% respectively). It is fully bilingual programme in all its components, allowing for focus on participants' mother tongue and adding a second language. In order to promote bilingualism, participants are provided with a bilingual dictionary, a bilingual alphabet and with a bilingual copy of the national constitution.

The following table provides a few examples of the lessons given both in Guaraní and Spanish to demonstrate the bilingual methodology adopted.

Title Language of instruction Translation
Declaration of Human Rights Spanish n/a
Right Ojeikovévo Rehegua Guaraní Human rights
Right to freedom Spanish n/a
The right to individual and collective property Spanish n/a
Ñande rapicha ika’arúmava rekove Guaraní Rights of adults
Responsibilities within the community Spanish n/a
The right to a public defender Spanish n/a
Jahapejoko mba’asy Guaraní Prevention of illnesses
Family planning Spanish n/a
Care during pregnancy Spanish n/a
Mitãra’y ñemokambu rehegua Guaraní Breastfeeding
Responsible motherhood and fatherhood Spanish n/a
Love, sexuality and family Spanish n/a
Nahi’ài Jajahéi Ojuehe Ogapýpe Guaraní Domestic violence
Types of abuse Spanish n/a
Ñoràirò Ogapýpe Guaraní Violence in the family
Reporting abuse Spanish n/a

Programme content and teaching materials

The Fortalecimiento module is imparted via get-togethers and is based on five interrelated themes. Each get-together covers one or two of these themes. The interrelated themes dealt with are as follows:

The vocational areas covered in Formación Profesional are cookery, hairdressing, crafts, horticulture and electrical skills. The programme incorporates the reading, writing and mathematical skills developed into the aforementioned vocational courses.

To be able to respond in a flexible manner to the learning requirements of the participants, the programme does not have a fixed curriculum. It does however have documents that serve to guide the educational process. These orientation materials are provided to the managers and facilitators.

The materials used in the sub-programme Ñane Ñe´ẽ (post-literacy component) are as follows:

The materials used within the Formación Profesional y Capacitación Laboral courses include:

The materials used in the literacy and vocational courses were developed by the Technical Team of the MEC (Ministry of Education and Culture) and of the DGEP (Directorate General of Permanent Education).

Organization and duration of the courses

The scheduling and duration of the sessions are agreed on between the participants and the facilitator.

The programme duration is approximately seven months. The start date is decided on by the state treasury, but tends to be between March and June. The sessions are conducted in learning circles held on the dates and at the times agreed on by the participants and facilitators.

Hiring and training the educators

Selecting from the subject areas offered within Formación Profesional involves reaching a consensus between the participants. The subject areas offered are: hairdressing, basic cookery, electric skills, dressmaking, crafts and community development (horticulture).

The facilitator is a known and accepted member of the community. Each learning circle has one facilitator and one vocational instructor from the beginning to the end of the course. Each facilitator and vocational instructor pairing is in charge of a learning circle of between fifteen and twenty participants.

The process of selecting and training staff comprises the following stages.

1. Raising awareness for, publicizing and promoting the programme. The first step is taken by the DGEP, who presents the programme (which is to be implemented by local authorities) in the departments targeted. After this, a variety of awareness-raising measures are taken with a view to attracting participants. These include meetings, work fairs, and radio and TV advertising.

The next step is to organize the process of selecting the staff to implement the literacy and post-literacy circles and of pre-enrolling potential participants.

2. Selecting staff. The Equipo de Evaluación y Selección (Evaluation and Selection Team), created by the Equipo Técnico Central de la Dirección General de Educación Permanente (Technical Team of the Directorate General of Permanent Education), is responsible for receiving the corresponding application documents (together with local education authorities); it then evaluates the documents using specific methods and, based on the results of this and on the rules governing the selection process, selects the staff.

The requirements to be fulfilled by candidates for the position of facilitator are as follows:

The requirements to be fulfilled by candidates for the position of Vocational Instructor are as follows:

The requirements to be fulfilled by candidates for the position of Local Manager are as follows:

In accordance with the objectives of the literacy programme, the process of evaluation and selection assesses the profiles, previous positions and application documents of the applicants. It then uses specific criteria and evaluation instruments, which include an interview, a written test of mathematical ability and a test in each of the languages.

It is worth noting an important achievement in this respect, i.e., the signing of the Resolución Ministerial (Ministerial Resolution) No.12.519 of 29 May 2015, which sets forth the requirements, profile types and professional experience to be considered when selecting educational staff with a view to implementing the Programa de Alfabetización No Formal para Personas Jóvenes y Adultas (Non-Formal Literacy Programme for young people and adults).

3. Staff training

Facilitators are given three training sessions during the process of implementing the literacy programme: one at the beginning of the programme and two during its implementation The technical staff from the Departamento de Alfabetización (Literacy Department) of the DGEP train the local and regional managers in the capital city of Paraguay (Asunción); the local managers then train the facilitators in the regions/zones in which the programme is implemented.

Vocational instructors are provided with two training sessions. In the first session they are trained by technical staff from the DGEP, and in the second, by specialists from the respective subject areas and professions.

Enrolment of the learners

The first phase comprises raising awareness for the programme; it involves events in the communities that serve to motivate potential participants to sign up. It also involves promotion via the press.

During the awareness-raising and dissemination phase, prior to the get-togethers in the communities, working groups were set up with the authorities and with local leaders to define the districts to be focussed on. The aforementioned get-togethers are then held after this process of definition. The involvement of the local authorities and of members of the communities is key in terms of securing logistical support across all phases of the programme.

For every non-formal learning circle there is an enrolment sheets and attendance is checked by the facilitator at the beginning of each session. There are no specific admission requirements. Participants must merely have completed a non-formal literacy class or have attended less than three years of primary school. Participants do not need to provide written proof of this however; they are simply required to declare that it is the case.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Two methods of assessment are used in the literacy classes:

  1. The first is an assessment upon admission, through which participants' initial reading, writing and mathematical levels are ascertained.
  2. The second involves the ongoing self-assessment of participants, taking into account their attendance, their contributions to group work, their performance in individual tasks, their participation in community life, etc.

At the end of the course, participants receive an attendance certificate. Another key aspect of progress monitoring is the use of assessments to appraise participants' advances within the process. To this end, the programme records their levels upon entry and upon conclusion of the course. It does this by means of written tests to be taken by participants.

The results of participants' starting and leaving assessments undergo qualitative analysis, with the advances and achievements of each participant being assessed and compared.

Monitoring and evaluation of the programme

From the beginning, and on an ongoing basis, the Local Managers monitor the progress of all learning circles on an individual basis, while the central technical team monitors progress on an overall level. To do this, they apply specific monitoring guidelines. These have been developed to identify the most important implementation indicators. All of the information gained through monitoring and evaluation is then processed and used to devise programme improvements.

Moreover, members of the Central Technical Team of the MEC use monitoring instruments to conduct representative sampling, while the local manager and the regional technical staff in the supervisory teams apply other instruments to monitor the programme in all learning circles. Using a database created for this purpose, the data collected via these instruments is downloaded and analyzed by those responsible for monitoring.

The performance of the facilitators and instructors is monitored by the local managers and the Central Technical Team of the DGEP.

Programme Impact and Challenges

Impact and achievements

To measure the impact of the programme, it is important to assess the level of community organization that the thirteen communities managed to achieve, as well as the assessed reading, writing and mathematics levels of participants leaving the programme.

There is only a 13% drop-out rate and, as such, and 87% retention rate. In total, 197 participants have completed the programme. Of this number 187 are women and 10 are men. The programme has succeeded in improving participants' sense of self-esteem and organizational skills. It has also helped establish contacts between peers and improve relations in families and communities.

The non-formal bilingual approach and the fact that the sessions are organized according to participant’s schedules and held in spaces made available by the community are the programmes most innovative aspects. The incorporation of professional/vocational components into the post-literacy courses is also key to the programme’s success. The programme values the progress made by its participants, who in most cases make great advances in terms of their ability to express themselves, their organizational skills, and their cohesion as a group.

Following the professional/vocational courses that have taken place so far, the respective communities have organized themselves with the aim of developing and selling of their own products, in doing so creating jobs for themselves and generating income for their families.


In 2014, the programme was implemented in the departments of Canindeyú, Concepción and Central, and in the country’s capital city of Asunción. 197 participants completed it. The general objective of the non-formal literacy programme for 2015 is to increase its number of literacy and post-literacy learning circles from 13 to 200, and to teach 1500 young people and adults aged fifteen and above to read and write. These learning circles are also offered to indigenous populations and people in prison.

Another important challenge is to coordinate with other state and civil society organizations to ensure that the programme does not remain an initiative of the Ministry of Education and Culture alone. The objective of such coordination with these organizations it to be able to reach more regions and to tackle the issues of poverty and social exclusion simultaneously from a variety of positions. These communities have a range of needs including health, work, security, housing, and identity documentation. Improved coordination and collaboration with other organizations would enable the programme to spread to many other communities and departments. Currently, the programme can only cover a limited amount of regions due to the lack of resources.

Lessons learned

Among the lessons learned was how important a role the vocational training components play in the learning circles. This is reflected in the increasing numbers of people showing interest and enrolling in the programme as a result of these components. Moreover, attendance levels for these courses were very high, indicating that the content was able to hold participants' interest and motivate them to continue with the programme.

In previous years, the post-literacy programmes did not include vocational training components. The incorporation of these resulted from a strategy developed by the management team and technical team to make relevant vocational subjects a part of the programme. So, as of 2014, the programme was expanded to include vocational training components.

The inclusion of subjects such as health and beauty (hairdressing), crafts, electrical skills, cookery, community development (horticulture) and dressmaking, together with the provision of the equipment, tools and materials required for each subject area, has proven successful and worthwhile; it is therefore set to continue as a means of helping these more vulnerable members of the population.

The aforementioned equipment remained in the respective communities. Participants were able to use them to organize committees and to produce and sell their products and services, generating income for their families in doing so.


The programme is now part of the national budget and as such has been classified as sustainable. Upon becoming part of the national budget, the project is now guaranteed to receive the funds needed to develop it in during the respective academic year. It is also feasible that in successive years, the programme will continue to be funded by the state treasury.

The local communities have developed committees through which they aim to devise strategies to promote self-employment and development, in addition to requesting the continuity of educational initiatives.

In the fiscal year 2015, the programme aims to expand to offer its non-formal post-literacy courses to an additional 34 communities. The availability of local and regional technical teams will allow for the continuity and sustainability of the process.


Contact information

María Inés Flecha Villalba
Director General of the Dirección General de Educación Permanente (DGEP)
Avda. Eusebio Ayala Km. 4,5 – Asunción
Telephone number: (+595) 21 506794/5
Fax: (+595) 21 506794

Last update: 25 July 2016