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Literacy Program

 Literacy is only a potential tool that can be used for a variety of economic, social, political, and cultural purposes

Adult Literacy

Adult Literacy in the Third World

Today, nearly 1 billion adults are totally illiterate; the large majority are women.


Varying and vague definitions of literacy abound in the literature and in practice. Literacy is only a potential tool that can be used for a variety of economic, social, political, and cultural purposes.


Three principal state objectives for launching literacy programs may be sociopolitical, economic, and demand-meeting. National non-governmental organizations often play an important role in the organization and teaching of adult literacy.


Factors that explain low attendance and weak individual motivation are conditions of poverty in rural areas, lack of self-confidence, disillusionment, discouraging teaching methods, and lack of easy and useful reading material.


Literacy strategies with major influence in developing countries are the following approaches: fundamental education, selective-intensive functional, conscientization, and mass campaign.


Other literacy programs may differ from or borrow from the aforementioned approaches and may focus on popular education, one-shot campaigns to eradicate illiteracy, eradication of illiteracy by a series of campaigns, general literacy programs, and/or selective small-scale programs.


Post-literacy is important for motivation, for consolidating literacy, and for preventing relapse into illiteracy. A process of social change and mobilization is necessary to sustain women's participation. Crucial research areas include the impact and use of literacy, learning literacy in a second language, contents and methods, dropout, quality versus quantity, sponsorship, and organization of literacy. 


Our literacy strategies folly the approaches of fundamental education, selective-intensive functional, conscientization, and mass campaign to effect change in a non-violent way.



A structure in a medical compound in the Nuba mountains damaged by a bomb dropped on their location.​

Empowerment and Civic Participation

In addition to the traditional education system targeting children and youth, one potentially important vehicle to improve literacy and numeracy skills is adult literacy programs (ALPs).


In many developing countries, however, these programs do not seem to achieve these hoped-for objectives and have therefore received less attention, if not been largely abandoned, in recent years.


But, evidence shows that ALPs do affect other important socioeconomic outcomes such as health, household income, and labor market participation by enhancing participants’ health knowledge and income-generating activities. 


Literacy impacts of ALPs can be high if novel approaches and modern technologies are utilized. ALPs have relatively low demand-side/direct costs and low supply-side/indirect costs. 


There is some, though scarce, evidence of positive effects on labor market participation, consumption/income, and health. 

Literate parents (especially mothers) are more likely to send their children to school and are more engaged in their children’s education. 

Evidence suggests that ALPs increase empowerment and civic participation among program participants. 

Program Modules

The duration of our classes is usually 21 months. Classes meet about two to three times a week (in the evening), for a total of about six hours per week.


Class sizes mostly range from about 20–30 participants per instructor/facilitator. ​


The program consists of three-course modules with 28 topics selected individually for each community—for example: 


Health module. Topics here include family planning, teenage pregnancy, environmental hygiene, immunization, HIV/AIDS, safe motherhood and childcare, drug abuse, traditional medicine, and safe drinking water.


Income Generation/Occupational Skills module. Topics here include cocoa farming, maize cultivation, dry season farming, basket weaving, animal husbandry, bee-keeping, oil palm cultivation, borrowing money for work, hygienic ways of preserving and selling fish, farm extension services, pottery, and soap making.


Civic Awareness module: Topics here include taxation, bushfires, interstate succession law, child labor, chieftaincy, community empowerment, and expensive funerals. 

Designed Solutions and Progress

We partner with various providers in facilitating and running successful classes with high retention rates.


These programs are typically quite similar to the formal classes; in particular, these alternative providers frequently include similar modules (Health, Income Generation/Occupational Skills, and Civic Awareness), as well as similar individual topics from these modules in their programs.


Some even adopted our primers directly for use in their own program. Subsequent results can therefore plausibly be interpreted in the context of our adult literacy program. 


While programs mostly have been found to only moderately improve the literacy (reading/writing) and numeracy skills they were intended to improve (though substantial reading skills have also been found in one case but still only moderate to weak writing and numeracy skills), impacts have been found on several other important outcomes including labor market participation, child mortality, teenage pregnancy, and household expenditures (a proxy for income).


These outcomes may arise through network effects and health knowledge, respectively, as they are certainly not attributable to literacy and/ or numeracy effects—as the latter are mostly found to be fairly modest.


Get Involved

Your support provides opportunities for vulnerable women and young people in war zones and other vulnerable victims of injustice to access clean water as well as hygiene and sanitation programs. 


Join our community by making a one-time donation or, give monthly, or quarterly, or yearly and transform lives of survivors of war and genocide today.


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