Home Jurnal Developing Non-formal Education Programs Based on the 21st Century Competencies for Improving Human Literacy

Developing Non-formal Education Programs Based on the 21st Century Competencies for Improving Human Literacy


Yoyon Suryono
Yogyakarta State University, ysuryo@uny.ac.id
Puji Yanti Fauziah
Yogyakarta State University, pujiyanti@uny.ac.id
Iis Prasetyo
Yogyakarta State University, iis.prasetyo@uny.ac.id


This study aims to reconstruct a model of non-formal education program improvement based on the 21st century competencies in the context of improving the quality of human literacy empirically by utilizing several research findings. This is important to do because so far the findings of some studies in non-formal education in general have not been in the construction of a program development model which is holistically integrated in the framework of the open and cyclical management of program development. The study began with the analysis of the findings of the research on the characteristics and adult learners’ needs, continued with the analysis of the mastery of the 21st century competencies, program planning, and program actualization, and it ended with  the analysis of the result of the program implementation evaluation which, in the future, will become the construction of the model of a non-formal education program based on the 21st century competencies in improving the quality of human literacy, containing the main component consisting of: framework, program planning and developmental model of planning, program development, program and instructional implementation, monitoring and evaluation, as well as a guide to the planning and development of non-formal education programs based on the 21st century competencies.

Keywords: human literacy, non-formal education, 21st century competencies


Non-formal education programs need to be developed bsed on the 21st century competencies and human literacy. The 21st century competencies and new literacy are needed by the society in oreder to be able to adapt themselves to the changes which are caused by the wave of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 which has impacts on, among others, the emergence of digical economy and disruption in the life of the society. One of the positive responses related to the Industrial Revolution 4.0 − the digital economy and disruption in the life of the society − there has been among the society a new awareness of ordering the social system in the format of Society 5.0 which emphasizes the importance of human being as the centre of technology advancement and economic development. Society 5.0 repositions the importance of the harmony among technology advancement, economic development, and social development.

In addition to the aforementioned issues, the importance of the 21st century competencies and new literacy for the society to have is due to the fact that Indonesia’s competitiveness level is still low compared to the other ASEAN countries. In 2017, for instance, Indonesia ranked 36th of 137 countries according to WEP. Meanwhile, the competitiveness of Singapore was at 3, Malaysia 23, and Thailand at 32. Besides, In Indonesia 8.8% of 618,000 university graduates are unemployed according to the data from BPS (2017). It is admitted that Indonesia’s labour force does not have the skill appropriate with the needs of labour market. On the other hand, the labour market needs the workers with multiple skills which are different from the skills developed in university students nowadays. Paray (ILO, 2017) said that Indonesia needs to improve the quality of the labour force competencies with digital technology (Ainun Na’im, 2019).

Conceptually, the above problems can be solved through the mastery of the 21st century competencies and human literacy. Therefore, there is a need to develop a new way of educating the society in order that they master the 21st century competencies and new literacy in the framework of the needed Society 5.0.  As one of the organized educational and part of the national education system, non-formal education has a strategic position to solve the problems through developing non-formal education programs which are based on the 21st century competencies and new literacy. How are those non-formal education programs developed? What are the problems to face, what kinds of non-formal education programs are needed to develop, what are the stages of development needed, and what is the content to be planned in the instruction? This paper analyzes some findings of relevant studies in non-formal education in Indonesia that have been conducted to answer those questions. The result of the reviews is used to develop a model of non-formal education program based on the 21st century competencies and new literacy, which is needed by the society. The intended model of non-formal education program two aspects:   method (the stages) and materials (substance) which are based on the the andragogy learning theory, which is the first vaiable in this analysis, whose steps consists of:  determining the needs and objectives, designing the strategy and resources needed to achieve the learning objectives, implementing the strategy and utilizing the learning resources, and evaluating the learning achievement and the achievement process (Knowles, 1995).

Non-formal education, as the second variable, is the activities outside the school system, organized in two main programs, i.e. standardized programs and non-standardized programs, constructed based on the needs of the local community. Standardized non-formal education programs include early-childhood education, life skills education, literacy education, equality education, women enforcement education, youth education, work internship and skill education, and other education programs which are needed to develop human potentials. Both the standardized non-formal education programs and non-standardized non-formal education programs are conducted and developed by way of program development based on the findings of research and development empirically proved and supported by relevant and valid theories. It is in this context that it is important to construct a model of non-formal education based on the findings of the research which has been conducted (Yoyon Suryono & Entoh Tohani, 2017).

There are many formulations of the 21st century competencies as the third variable, which becomes the content of the non-formal education program development in this paper. Two of them are put forward in World Economic Forum (Ainun Na’im, 2019) and Pearson-Learning Curve Report 2014 (Suyanto, 2019). The formulation of the 21st century competencies used in this analysis is quoted from the formulation in the above mentioned Pearson-Learning Curve Report 2014 which is known as “4-C”, that is creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration, which underlies eight aspects, including leadership, digital literacy, communication, emotional intelligence, entrepreneurship, global citizenship, problem-solving, and team working. The non-formal education program development based on the 21st century competencies in this study refers to the eight aspects of the competencies quoted above.

The concept of new literacy emerged in response to the phenomena of Industrial Revolution 4.0 which demands that veryone has new literacy competence in order to exist in up-to-date life. While the old literacy refers to the ability to read, write, and count, the new literacy refers to data literacy competence, technology literacy, and human literacy. Data literacy is the ability to read, analyze, and use information (big data) in the digital world. Technology literacy is the ability to understand mechanical system, use technology application such as coding, artificial intelligence, and engineering principles. Human literacy is the competence in humanity, cooperation, and designing.  Furthermore, human literacy is described as including the leadership ability, and team work, cultural intelligence – the ability to work in different environments both nationally and internationally−, and entrepreneurship (including social entrepreneurship) as the basic competence that the people must have (Ainun Na’im, 2019). Human literacy is the fourth variable in this study.


Meta-analysis as a new technique to discover consistency and inconsistency in analyzing research findings is used in this study to explore information from the data obtained from research cross-findings. The data used in this analysis are in the form of statistical figures and qualitative data used to find out holistic information. The research findings which are used are classified based on contexts, subject characteristics, research design, and execution. In this research the research finding based on subject characteristics is non-formal education. The stages of the analysis consist of: problem formulation, data collection and evaluation, data analysis and interpretation, and product display (Hedges, Shymansky and Woodworth, 1989). The data analysis was done through coding data sheets to make it easy for the researcher to classify research findings based on the stated criteria, including time of research, theme, method etc. This study is limited to the findings of the research on non-formal education from 2010 to 2018, particularly the research conducted by the department of non-formal education.


  1. Findings

a. Field Problems and Needs

The non-formal education program studied in this paper is limited to the life skills education program as one of the non-formal education programs which is the basis for the implementation of other forms of non-formal education programs.  The findings of the research on life skills are summarized as follows: (1) the life skills education conducted in non-formal education is in the form of vocational education, (2) the program planning which is made does not follow the principles of good planning, (3) the program device and implementation is not really practice-oriented and not yet adequate, (4) the application of learning outcome is low, (4) the business ownership is only about 5% of the participants, (6) less than 5% of the training has effect on the decrease in poverty through income, (7) partnership cooperation of all of the stakeholders in the society is still low, and (8) the training organizers’ responses to the needs for the 21st century competencies are still partial and low (Yoyon Suryono, 2012, 2017, dan 2018).

Two reasons for the findings are that the learning style of the participants of the life skills education is still dominated by being theoretical (64%), activist (18%), reflector (16%), and pragmatic (2%) learning styles and the program organizers still put the emphasis on output  achievement and ignore the achievement of the use and impact expected from the education program; this is related to the implementation of non-formal education programs which are oriented to the absorption of budget from the government (Yoyon Suryono, 2017, Sumarno, 2015).

b. Types of non-formal education

The type of non-formal education in the society, which becomes the focus of this research is life skills education, especially vocational education or skill education which is in the form of the skill in sewing, make-up, culinary, computer, mechanic, drumband instrument, wood souvenir, and the skill to make car and chair covers. Such kinds of life skills are the ones known by the society as life skills education, although they are still limited as vocational education or skill education (Sumarno, 2011, 2012; Yoyon Suryono, 2017).

c. Development stage

Through the research on the implementation of life skills education trainings for poverty reduction in the Special Territory of Yogyakarta, there has been a planning model and  the development of a model of non-formal education programs with some key issues on the planning as follows: (1) what kind of change is expected as the main mission, (2) what output must be produced with clear target groups, new competencies which are expected, and the readiness indicators of the output that will motivate changes, (3) how to produce the expected outputs  which include objectives, learning materials, learning strategies, learning progress assessment, and  (4) the needed inputs, in the form of teachers, learning packages, assessment instruments, and equipment/materials. Meanwhile, some identifiable key issues for developing the model of the programs include (1) the accuracy of the concept as the reference to the development of the conceptual model, (2) the feasibility of the design for developing the model of the program, (3) usage accuracy, (4) the accuracy of the problems and solution, (5) accuracy of the design, and (6) accuracy of use.

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The findings on the key issues on program planning have resulted in the formulation that the main mission of non-formal education programs is eradicating poverty by giving opportunities to increasing income and earning a living; the target is poor groups of people who have  potentials to improve themselves and impact on their community; the trainings are in the forms of making/producing goods, skills at serving others, ability to sell the produced goods/services and to calculate cost/profit, and the ability to manage  the sustainability of their business. The activities which are held are in the form of program planning, providing the resources needed for the program implementation, and utilizing the resources in the program implementation. In terms of program model development, it is known that the accuracy of a program must be consulted to experts, and then there have to be limited piloting and monitoring for improvement, packaging based on the successful piloting and applying the design which proves successful, monitoring its development and making improvement.

For developing the existing non-formal education program in particular, some identifiable problems include: (1) the accuracy of the problems and the solution concepts which must be discussed with the field workers; (2) the accuracy of the design implemented simultaneously with the existing programs, which needs monitoring, discussion, improvement, better implementation with field workers with monitoring/observation and discussion and improvement;  (3) the accuracy of the uses which are formulated in a conclusion which is then followed by the application of the design which proves successful and continuous improvement according to the ongoing implementation process.

Based on the problems and research findings above, the development of the non-formal education program model is conducted following the framework of actions including: (1) education and trainings in the form of life skills education for poverty eradication, (2) planning needs-based non-formal education programs, (3) improving the performance of non-formal education program, and (4) piloting a model of problem-based non-formal education programs. The framework of actions is based on four main components, i.e. developing the ability to work and earn a living, to produce goods and services, to become entrepreneur, and to create opportunities and supports. In terms of content, non-formal education is based on the mastery of skill education which has many different concepts and applied models.

The stages of developing a model of life skills education programs are identified to include: (1) analyzing the area condition by using the SWOT analysis and participatory appraisal techniques; (2) identifying and determining program strategies, target groups, making plans using the  deliberative approach; (3) making technical planning which includes objectives, learning materials, activities, evaluation, and the follow-up; (4) drawing up the budget based on instructional programs and resources. For the program development, the steps and stages are formulated as follows: (1) improving the performance of non-formal education programs, (2) developing a program which is based on the diagnosis of the existing programs.

Non-formal education program development such as the one that has been done is expected to be based on strategic issues revealed through the SWOT analysis to identify the solution and to determine the strategy which is implemented accurately by using action research or research and development which is collaborative, self-reflective, flexible, and cyclical. The content of the action is in the form of integrative productive skill trainings, entrepreneurship education, entrepreneurship, and apprenticeship according to indicators of success used at the evaluation stage. The technical findings related to the action done refers to the objectives, materials, activities, and evaluation in the framework of action research or research and development with the steps consisting of: identifying the problems and enriching skills, giving vocation and entrepreneurship content, developing and finding the ways to review concepts and application, and ending with implementation in real contexts (Sumarno, dkk, 2013).

d. Instruction materials

The big theme used in non-formal education trainings is real life skills education, which is limited to vocational or skill education. There are some other forms of non-formal education trainings which are not standard according to the local needs but they are not part of this study. The instructional materials of vocational or skill education refer to the skills which are developed. There are some general materilas, such as marketing ability and practical production cost calculation.  The indicators of the needed materials are based on the objective of the training in the form of productive competence mastery trainings accompanied with the training in marketing the produced goods and services as the output of the trainings which are conducted. This kind of trainings are conducted in accordance with the government instruction which is related to norformal education programs conducted by the society, especially for the training organizers who have fund from the government.

  1. Discussion

Non-formal education which is based on life skills education has been the government policy since 2010, and therefore non-formal education programs prioritize life skills education although what has been done is limited to vocational skills or competencies. That is why this study found that vocational skills or competencies are developed in non-formal education activities. The second reason is that most life skills education programs get the funds from the government so that it is quite reasonable that what has been developed is life skills or the skills which are in line with the guidance made by the government.

From the findings and needs discussed above, it can be concluded that the competencies of the training program organizers in planning, implementing, and developing life skills education programs and instruction are not very good, viewed from the available resources, training implementation, and the output, as well as the use and impact which should be given after the programs are implemented. Other information which can be obtained in relation to the conclusion is the low competence of those who made the training proposal in writing the proposal on life skills training to the Ministry of Education and Culture which provides funds competitively. This is controversial; on the one hand, the proposal is accepted, on the other, the implementation of the programs is not as expected, especially when viewed from the input, process, output, utility, and impact. In addition, facts show that there are many constraints in the implementation of skill and vocational competence trainings which are of national standard because of variation in the condition and ability to manage non-formal education which is seen as the education which functions to complement, replace, or enrich formal school education.

The findings on the model of program development obtained through action research and research and development presented above is useful for program development and efforts to improve the competencies of program organizers in planning, implementing, and evaluating the programs they propose in order that the life skills they carry out can run well and give good results. Therefore, there needs to be a training in planning and developing programs, which is  held by universities in order that the potentials and competencies of non-formal education in improving human resources can be realized,  especially in the context of human literacy as a part of the 21st century literacy and competencies. In addition to the technical matters, there need to be trainings in academic improvement which can encourage and improve the performance of non-formal education in the field,  in relation to both the teaching competence and context as well as the 21st century competencies related to its various relationships with the advancement of information and communication technology which needs to be responded so that there is a harmony among technology advancement, economic development, and social life order in a variety of formats developed by various countries, including Indonesia in order not to be left behind in the life which is full of disruptions in every walk of life.

The content of the vocational and skill competence trainings needs to be developed into the 21st century competencies and human literacy. Thus, the training materials must be given firstly to training program organizers and must be mastered by university lecturers who are interested in non-formal education. Content in this context is also related to the updating of the teaching competence which is contextual with the 21st century competencies and human literacy. As mentioned earlier, the previous non-formal education target participants of the training were generally adult people who were economically disadvantageous, the current non-formal education target participants should be expanded to include the millennial groups who are potential to be the next generation of this country in the future. Therefore, understanding the characteristics of millennial groups is very important because they have special characteristics which are different from those of other groups.


This study concludes: (1) it is important that non-formal education improve the society’s competence in coping with the disruption era and build the social system like the concept of Society 5.0; (2) the prioritized form of non-formal education is life skills education which is transformed into the 21st century competencies and human literacy; (3) the substance of the 21st century competencies and human literacy conceptually mentioned above need to be trained to the society through program development using the adaptive and applicative steps in social life; and (4) there need to be teaching processes which are creative and innovative in line with the 21st century competencies and human literacy. Therefore, it is suggested that the important role of academicians in non-formal education be in designing various forms of programs and instructions based on the 21st century competencies and human literacy and guarantee the feasibility of the programs and instruction of high quality and satisfies all of the stake holders who are concerned with non-formal education as alternative education that educates the the people.


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