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The regional meetings > Sub-Saharan Africa > Cap Verde

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  Literacy paves way into business for adult professionals
By Leila Loupis,
UNESCO Harare
   
    Literacy skills can be quickly lost, if not sufficiently used. In Cap Verde there were a substantial number of young adults passing through the literacy centres who fell back into illiteracy, not having put their new skills to good use, often referred to as "functional illiterates".
   
    "The graduates were optimistic about their new skills and the new possibilities that literacy brought; independence, responsibility and empowerment. However, many found that the literacy skills were lost without having been put to use, and worse, seemed irrelevant within their daily work." says Mr Edouardo Augusto Cardoso, Education Planner and national EFA Coordinator.
   
  Literacy and small business development
   
    Based on these observations, an initiative was developed which aimed to avoid literacy loss by incorporating literacy within the framework of the daily professional routine.
   
 

  The population of young adults from 25 to 35 years was targeted for the project. During the initial phase, participants received the equivalent of basic education training within established adult literacy centres. Having completed this training, they received financial assistance to get a small business off the ground (in the form of an interest-free loan reimbursed by the participant once his or her business is running). For example, this allowed a fisherman to buy a boat motor, a seamstress a sewing machine, and so on.

   
    While carrying out their profession, the participants were required to use basic skills, such as reading and writing to keep track of accounts, budget, debtors, long and short term planning. All efforts were made for them to, not only fully acquire the literacy skills, but also to make use of them in their daily professional lives.
   
  Literacy for economic development
   
    "The experiences revealed that the participants confidently acquired the necessary literacy skills and also used these new skills to improve their professional performance. The project successfully linked efforts in basic education to those providing help to small businesses" states Mr Cardoso. Most importantly, the project revealed the importance of adult literacy in economic development, and for the empowerment of the individual and his community.
   
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