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What is Flexible Learning Strategies?

Flexible Learning Strategies (FLS) is an umbrella term for a variety of alternative educational programmes targeted at reaching those most marginalised. Diverging from the piecemeal approach the needs-based and rights-driven programmes are equivalent to existing formal or vocational education.

Why Flexible Learning Strategies?

Ideally speaking, everyone should study in formal schools, but in reality many children and youths, in particular from disadvantaged backgrounds, face challenges in overcoming multiple barriers to enter school or drop out before completing compulsory schooling. In Asia and the Pacific, many countries have large populations and low literacy rates, lacking the resources required to expand the formal education system accordingly. It is therefore necessary to provide education not only through formal delivery systems, but equally through flexible non-formal means.

Often visible across countries is the lack of linkages for student graduates from non-formal primary schools to progress and re- enter a formal secondary school system, key to their future development. With established equivalency programmes, learners are able to study at non-formal schools and gain formal qualifications equivalent to formal schools facilitating reintegration.

61 million children of primary school age remain excluded from formal education globally. These “out-of-school children” include those who are the most marginalized and vulnerable.

What types of Flexible Learning Strategies are available?

Flexible learning strategies (FLS) have been applied by many governments and Civil Society Organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. FLS overarches non-formal education, accelerated learning, equivalency programmes, flexible schooling, alternative learning/education, and complementary education and can be developed at any level and respective subsector of education.

In a country where primary, lower-secondary and higher-secondary education is available through the formal education system, corresponding flexible programmes can be developed accordingly.

Similarly, programmes can be developed at vocational/professional levels, with vocational, university, or college equivalency and open education programmes providing some examples.

What are the characteristics of Flexible Learning Strategies?

  • Reaching the Unreached: FLS are for those most marginalised unable to access formal educational systems through traditional schooling delivery.
  • Equivalency: FLS covers non-formal education programmes whose qualifications are recognised as equivalent to those gained through formal education.
  • Flexibility: FLS are “open” in terms of admission, age, mode, duration, pace and place; with delivery varying from face-to-face learning and/or distance education reflective of accessibility.
  • Intensive Learning Quality: FLS are often condensed and tailored to provide scaffolded and relevant learning.
  • Global Citizenship and Lifelong Learning: Approximately 75% of the content of FLS is equivalent to formal education curricula, with other functional and relevant life skills integrated on a needs-basis.

Innovative Financing for out-of-school Children and Youth

The booklet on Innovative financing for out-of-school children and youth was prepared to publish. The booklet aims to serve as a rapid reference for policymakers in the region who wish to familiarize themselves on non-traditional financing approaches. It would help to replicate or adapt the strategies presented in different countries’ context. This booklet is co-published with Result for Development (R4D) and globally disseminated.


Flexible Learning Strategies: Country Case Report

Regional Meeting on Alternative Learning/Schooling Programmes for Primary Education to Reach the Unreached - Outcome Document
Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok, 84p.


Flexible Learning Strategies for out-of -school children and youth

Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok, 12 p.


Asia-Pacific Regional Guide to Equivalency Programmes

Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok, 2012, 68 p.
ISBN 978-92-9223-397-6 (Electronic version)


Achieving EFA Through Equivalency Programmes in Asia-Pacic: A regional overview with highlights from India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines
Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok, 2011, 58 p.
 ISBN 978-92-9223-343-3 (Print Version)
 ISBN 978-92-9223-344-0 (Electronic Version)


Equivalency Programmes and Alternative Certified Learning
13-17 September 2010, Bangkok, Thailand.
Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok, 2011, 28 p.
ISBN 978-92-9223-364-8 (Electronic version)



Equivalency Programmes (EPs) for Promoting Lifelong Learning
 Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok, 2006, 50 p.
 ISBN 92-9223-096-4




Equivalency Programmes
 VolumeIII, 1993, UNESCO Bangkok