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Philippines - Nonformal Education

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferencePhilippines - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—an Overview, Preprimary Primary Education


The mission of Nonformal Education (NFE) in the Philippines is to empower the Filipino with "desirable knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that will enable him/her to think critically and creatively, act innovatively and humanely in improving the quality of his/her life and that of his/her family, community and country." NFE aims to reduce the number of illiterate out-of-school youth and adults with need-based literacy programs, plus continue education through basic development projects. Activities that fall under this system of education range from vocational training to adult reading classes, from family planning sessions to cultural and leadership workshops for community leaders.

This branch of education is governed by the DECS Bureau of Nonformal Education(BNFE) and its history can be traced as far back as 1908 when ACT No. 1829 was created to provide for the delivery of civicoeducational lectures in towns and barrios. Six years later the act was amended to assign teachers in public schools to give the lectures. The New Commonwealth government passed Act No. 80 in 1936 to create the Office of Adult Education as part of the then Department of Instruction. A decade later, this branch was transformed into the Adult and Community Education Division of the Bureau of Public Schools. After the declaration of Martial Law, the Marcos government's Philippine Constitution of 1973 created the position of the Undersecretary of Nonformal Education.

The Education Act of 1982 created the Bureau of Continuing Education from the Office of Nonformal Education. The Aquino government after the People Power Revolution, enacted Executive Order No. 117 in 1987 to create the Bureau of Nonformal Education. Article 14, section 2(4) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution stated: "The state shall encourage nonformal, formal, indigenous learning systems, as well as self-learning, independent and out-of-school study programs, particularly those that respond to community needs; and provide adult citizens, the disabled and out-of school youth training in civics, vocational efficiency and other skills." Nonformal education, in this sense, is designed to extend, complement, and provide an alternative to the existing educational system. Human development thus becomes an important factor in alleviating poverty.

The National Statistics Office of the Philippines reported that in 1989, there were 3,000,000 school youths between the ages of 7 to 24. This increased to 3,800,000 by 1994. The highest percentage of these youths was from the Western Mindanao region. Out-of-school women outnumbered the men by 6.7 percent. On October 16, 1990, Proclamation No. 480 declared the period from 1990 to 1999 as the Decade of Education for All, with the goal of meeting the educational needs of the poor and under educated.

BNFE is divided into three divisions: the Literacy Division (LD), the Continuing Education Division (CED), and the Staff Development Division (SDD). The bureau outlines its functions as: serving the needs of those unable to avail of formal education; expanding access to educational opportunities; and providing opportunities for the acquisition of skills to ensure employability, efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness in the labor market. BNFE funds come from three main sources which are: the General Appropriations Act, loans from the Asian Development Bank, and funds from other international agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, ACCU, and elsewhere.

In 1995, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) was established to help regulate non-degree technical-vocational programs. TESDA was also in charge of skill orientation, training, and development of out-of-school youth and unemployed community adults.

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