Literacy and Community Development Programme
Country Profile: Ghana
23,000,000 (2007 estimate)
|Poverty (Population living on less than US$1 per day):|
|Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP|
|Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)|
|Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)|
|Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2004)|
|Programme Title||Literacy and Community Development Programme|
|Implementing Organization||Pamoja Ghana|
|Language of Instruction||Local language / mother tongue|
|Programme Partners||ActionAid Ghana (AAG, main) and Rights and Voices Initiative (RAVI)|
Context and Background
Since gaining independence in 1957, Ghana has increasingly prioritized the development of education and the eradication of illiteracy as a strategy of promoting development and social empowerment. Accordingly, over the past five decades, the State has instituted various educational acts, the most fundamental being the Education Act of 1961 and the 1992 Constitution (article 38, sub-section 2) which laid the legal basis for the provision of education as a basic right for all citizens. Additionally, in order to make education more accessible to all in line with its constitutional obligations, the State in partnership with NGOs has also instituted a number of educational programmes such as the Free and Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE, 1995). As a result of these proactive efforts, the primary and secondary school net enrolments and, by extension, the overall literacy rates have grown steadily over the years. For instance, the youth and adult literacy rates are currently estimated to be 80% and 75%, respectively.
Yet, despite Ghana’s educational achievements, illiteracy remains pervasive in the country particularly among women, the poor and in underdeveloped regions. Estimates suggest that about 42% of the adult population is illiterate and about 50% of Ghanaian women are illiterate, compared with 33% of men. Regional rates of illiteracy also differ sharply. For instance, while the rate of illiteracy in the Greater Accra Region and in Ashanti is 21% and 40% respectively, it rises to an alarming 54% in the Brong Ahafo Region and 76% in the three Northern regions. In light of this, Pamoja Ghana – a network of REFLECT Practitioners from 32 local organizations – has instituted the Literacy and Community Development Programme (LCDP) in an effort to combat illiteracy and to promote socio-economic development and empowerment among the poor and underprivileged groups particularly women and youth.
The Literacy and Community Development Programme (LCDP)
The LCDP is an intergenerational, integrated and multilingual literacy and social development programme. It was officially launched by Pamoja Ghana with financial and technical support from Action Aid Ghana (AAG). Since then, Pamoja has established numerous REFLECT learning circles or groups across the entire country and currently, there are about 3,340 active participants. The majority of the active learning circles are in the Northern Regions which, as noted, are not only amongst the poorest but also have some of the highest illiteracy rates in the country. Other paticipating circles are in Brong Ahafo, Eastern Greater Accra and the western Region.
Although the LCDP is an inclusive literacy and socio-economic development programme which targets every adult person (aged 15 years and above) with little or no formal education, specific efforts are however made to target vulnerable and often marginalised social groups such as women, youth, prison inmates, nomads and people living with disabilities. Not surprisingly, the programme is more active in rural than in urban settlements.
As indicated above, the LCDP is an intergenerational integrated literacy and socio-economic development programme. As such, the programme not only facilitates literacy skills development among adults but also provides participants with opportunities to develop practical and sustainable life skills in a wide-range of fields including:
- Health (HIV/AIDS, maternal health, infant mortality, family planning, personal hygiene; sanitation; female genital mutilation; malaria prevention and family nutrition);
- Civic education (leadership training, human rights awareness, human security, democratic governance; conflict management and resolution; gender education including domestic violence, genital mutilation and rape);
- Livelihood skills training/ capacity building (food production and security, income generation and community development);
- Environmental management / conservation.
Aims and Objectives
The programme endeavours to: - Combat illiteracy and poverty in the country particularly among the poor and vulnerable groups such as women and youth; - Empower the poor and vulnerable members of society through literacy and livelihood skills training in order to enable them to identify and find practical and sustainable solutions to the challenges they encounter in daily life as well as to participate fully in community and national development processes; - Promote personal and societal development; - Promote gender equity; - Raise human rights awareness among the poor and vulnerable members of society;Promote social networking and organisation for community development.
Programme Implementation: Approaches and Methodologies
Recruitment and Training of Trainers
Pamoja has recruited and trained about 167 literacy facilitators or trainers who are currently assisting over 3, 340 programme participants/learners. Facilitators were mostly recruited from and assigned learning circles within their localities. Facilitators are normally not paid but are given gifts at the end of each learning or literacy cycle.
Enrolment of learners
Pamoja employs various strategies to enrol participants into the programme, the most critical being community-based advocacy and awareness campaigns aimed at briefing the community about the importance of the REFLECT programme for personal and community development as well as to encourage adults to participate in the REFLECT learning circles based in their communities. In addition, the Network also encourages current programme participants but especially the established REFLECT Literacy Committees to encourage other members of society to join the learning circles or to assist the circles to identify, plan and implement developmental activities in their communities. In so doing, the programme creates opportunities for entire communities to actively participate in commnunity activities regardless of whether or not they formally belong to a REFLECT learning circle.
Teaching-Learning Approaches and Methods
Pamoja has established community-based literacy learning circles or groups. Although the programme does not have a fixed curriculum, teaching-learning materials (these are developed locally in order to capture and address local needs and challenges) or official starting dates, learning circles are expected to meet 2 to 4 times a week for about two to three hours, over the two-year duration of the programme.
Pamoja employs the Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques (REFLECT), a right-based, structured and participatory approach to adult learning and social development that uses Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools and materials such as maps, calendars, matrices and diagrams to assist learners in identifying and solving personal and community development challenges. The REFLECT approach to learning is therefore learner-centred and, as such, rather than lecturing to learners, facilitators are encouraged to assist learners to critically analyse their existential needs and problems. For example, what resources they need to solve the problems, where and how they can get the neccessary resources and, most importantly, to identify the course of action needed to solve the problems or to satisfy their needs. Active group discussions/debates, simulations and question and answer strategies are therefore central to the teaching-learning process (see pictures below). In addition, the facilitator is also trained and encouraged to progressively introduce literacy and numeracy skills training into the learning process by highlighting key words, sentences and numbers that are central and relevant to the learning activities. In so doing, the REFLECT approach enables participants not only to acquire or improve their literacy skills but also to gain life skills necessary for personal and community development.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Pamoja engages both internal and external professionals to monitor and evaluate programme activities and learning outcomes on an ongoing basis. An external evaluation of the programme by Dr. M Tagoe from the Institute of Adult Education (University of Ghana) revealed that [...]. Furthermore, officials from Pamoja also undertakes field visits to review the learning process and programme impact.
Programme Impact and Challenges
The LCDP has had some concrete benefits for both the learners, their families and communities and by extension, the entire nation. Key benefits include:
- Apart from creating opportunities for hundreds of adults and school drop-out children to acquire basic literacy and life skills, the programme has also supported 3 women, 7 girls and 11 boys from 9 communities to enrol in formal education.
- Many learners have become empowered and moved on to hold positions in the district assemblies in their localities. Others have risen to become elders in their various religions as they can now read and write.
- Many of the young people who had been forced out of school due to, for example, poverty, were assisted to continue learning informally under the programme and eventually to re-enrol in the formal education system or to engage in viable community-based developmental activities.
Despite the positive impact of the programme on the lives of ordinary people, the implementation of the programme has been encumbered by practical and technical challenges including:
- Lack of adequate funding: although the programme does not require huge financial investments, the lack of adquate funding has limited Pamoja’s ability to expand the programme as well as to finance community projects that learners have identified as being central to their communities’ development. The latter is often one of the key factors that demotivates learners from continuing to participate in the programme. Financial challenges are likely to worsen because Action Aid Ghana – the main sponsor – has reduced funding for the programme.
- Turn-over of facilitators: generally, the programme has failed to return trained facilitators due to Pamoja and the learning circles’ inability to renumerate them for their services. This has increased programme costs as high-staff turn over has necessitated constant training of new facilitators.
- Low Cost Programme: REFLECT programmes are cheap to implement because they require little expertise in the development of the curriculum and teaching-learning materials which, as noted above, are locally developed by the facilitaor with support from learning circle members;
- The intergration of literacy skills training with life skills training and community development projects is critical in motivating adults to participate in learning activities.
The key indicator of programme sustainability is the fact that communities own the programme and proactively contribute towards its continuity. The programme has also been replicated in other areas. In addition, Pamoja has formulated key strategies to insure the programme’s sustainability. These include:
- Equipping existing REFLECT Circles with the necessary learning resources such as reading and writing materials, lanterns etc;
- Allocate funds to support some identified Action Points of Reflect circles;
- Intensification of fundraising efforts;
- Build alliances with networks in education, health, human rights, governance and policy.
- Ama Achiaa Amankwah, 12 June 2009; Ghana: Pamoja Forum Recognizes Youth And Adult Literacy As Key to Development. http://allafrica.com/stories/200906120491.html
- Aryeetey, E. and Kwakye, E. (2005) Policy case study: Functional Literacy, National Functional Programme (NFLP II) in Ghana, Draft. A paper presented at the Conferences on ‘Addressing Inequalities: Policies for Inclusive development’ organised by the Inter-Regional Inequality Facility 11th -12th July, 2005 at UNECA, Addis Ababa
Pamoja Ghana Reflect Network,
P. O. Box LG 233, Legon,
Phone: (233) 243 212 754
Email contact: User: akotomillicent
Host: (at) yahoo.co.uk; User: pamojaghana
Host: (at) yahoo.co.uk.