Non-Formal and Continuing Education Division Board

The Non-Formal and Continuing Education Division (NFCED) is a division within the Department of Adult and Higher Education in the Ministry of Education.

The objectives of NFCED are:

  • to provide quality literacy and numeracy education in Dzongkha, the official language, to those who did not receive/complete a formal education, in order to:
    • promote Dzongkha
    • increase the literacy rate (aiming to achieve 70% adult literacy by 2013 and ultimately near 100% by 2015)
  • to provide life skills and livelihood skills education
  • to provide lifelong learning opportunities.


Programme implementation

NFCED coordinates and facilitates the policy formulation, curriculum development and capacity development for non-formal and continuing education programmes. District education officers in 20 districts in the country are then responsible for managing the NFE centres in their districts. At community level, school principals who are mandated by the Ministry of Education, are designated to supervise and provide support for the NFE centres and facilitators. Village elders under the chairmanship of the village chiefs are also actively involved in the management of the NFE in their communities.


Programmes offered 

  • Buthan04Class2The basic literacy programme takes place over one and a half years, and is held for three hours per day for five days a week at the NFE centres, usually housed in local schools. It is offered in the official language. In addition to basic literacy and numeracy skills, learners receive a livelihood skills education. Therefore, on the completion of the programme, learners are not only expected to have basic skills in reading, writing and calculations but also knowledge and skills related to health, sanitation, environment, agriculture, livestock, early childcare and development, STD/AIDS prevention and other relevant life skills. The average number of learners is 20 per class.

  • The post literacy programme is a year-long programme. Learners meet for three hours per day, five days a week at NFE centres. This programme is designed for learners who have completed the basic literacy programme or for those with existing basic literacy skills. The post literacy curriculum consists broadly of three levels. Each level is further divided into seven thematic areas: health, environment and agriculture, income generating/livelihood, social/cultural issues, early childhood development, good governance, and disaster management. The learners also have the option to learn English at this level. The average number of learners is 20 per class.

  • The self-learning programme does not follow a set structure. The individual learner goes to NFE centres to read and learn using materials of their choice which are available at the centres. This programme was created to support continuous and lifelong learning. The community learning centre (CLC) manager is there if needed to support the learner. The CLC is usually a small, community building constructed through community participation. Sometimes rooms in local schools, private houses, temples, or out-reach clinics are used as CLCs. A CLC provides a number of activities for literacy education and life skills development and accommodates other community development programmes and meetings. Two major activities that take place at CLCs are reading (reading corners are provided where learners can find books of interest) and skills training (such as tailoring, furniture making, souvenir making, and embroidery and weaving). In some of the CLCs both basic literacy and post literacy courses are also offered.

  • The continuing education (CE) programme lasts for 10 months. It is held for two hours a day on Monday to Fridays and four hours on Saturday. It is designed to create an avenue for continuous and lifelong learning for people who could not complete their formal studies. Currently the government and private higher secondary schools offer CE to adult learners who are mostly government employees or from private organisations. The learners follow the same curriculum of the formal system. The average number of learners is 40 per class. CE candidates completing class XII are given the Bhutan Higher Secondary Education Certificate examination (BHSEC) and those candidates completing class X are given the Bhutan Certificate of Secondary Education examination (BCSE).


trainingFacilitators are grade X or grade XII graduates. They are hired full-time and paid. Training for new facilitators is conducted annually and refresher training for current facilitators is arranged at regular intervals. Because most of the learners are adults, courses on adult learning principles and teaching techniques are given during the initial and refresher training. When new curriculum materials are developed, workshops are organised for the facilitators so that they can familiarise themselves with the changes in the materials. In addition, a series of cluster- (several NFE centres from different districts) and national-based in-service workshops are organised to build on this and to update instructors on the recent changes and developments. The training and workshops described above are provided by experienced facilitators. They are the most competent and committed facilitators who have been identified and trained to become trainers of facilitators. Regular refresher courses for these trainers are also conducted. District education officers are trained on the policies and programmes of the NFE at national level. The district education officers, in turn, train school principals who are in charge of managing and providing support to the NFE centres and facilitators.

Monitoring and evaluation

The monitoring of the NFE centres is entrusted to different stakeholders at different levels:

  • at a community level by the local NFE committee which is comprised of school principals and village elders under the chairmanship of the village chiefs
  • at district level by the respective district education officers
  • at national level by the NFCED.

The Division mainly depends on the quarterly progress reports submitted by the NFE centres through the district education officers as well as field visits made by the programme officers. As for outcome evaluation, because most of the NFE’s programme activities are supported by international agencies, it is measured, recorded and submitted to funding agencies. The outcome evaluation is conducted by the Planning and Monitoring System (PlaMS), and the line Ministry submits reports to the Government – Gross National Commission.

An impact assessment on NFE programmes was carried out in 2008, and the findings were shared among the stakeholders. The stakeholders at community, district and national levels, are currently taking action on the recommendations arising from the assessment. The impact assessment report is available.