Integrated Intergenerational Literacy Project (IILP)

Country Profile: Uganda

Population

30 900 000 (2007 estimate)

Official Language

English and Swahili

Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP

5,3% (2005 estimate)

Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)

66% (2005)

Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)

77% (1995-2004)

Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2004)
  • Total: 67%
  • Male: 77%
  • Female: 58%
Sources

Programme Overview

Programme TitleIntegrated Intergenerational Literacy Project (IILP)
Implementing OrganizationUganda Rural Literacy and Community Development Association (URLCODA)
Language of InstructionEnglish and local languages (depending on the target group)
FundingInternational Reading Association; contributions from members
Date of Inception2004

Introduction

The Integrated Intergenerational Literacy Project (IILP) was initiated in 2003 by the Uganda Rural Literacy and Community Development Association (URLCODA), a community-based NGO which was formed in 2002 in response to the needs of the rural people in Arua district. In 2004, URLCODA was legally registered with the National NGO Board of Uganda and is also an affiliate member of the Reading Association of Uganda (RAU). Currently, URLCODA is implementing an intergenerational literacy programme in the Arua district of north-western Uganda.

URLCODA's vision is to promote the development of a literate, secure, healthy, gender-sensitive and peaceful society that fosters sustainable grassroots development. To this end, URLCODA’s primary aim is to use literacy to promote socio-economic development and transformation in rural areas by addressing core community problems and challenges such as:

In order to empower rural communities and achieve these goals, it was necessary to foster literacy skills across all age-groups, while paying particular attention to socially disadvantaged and vulnerable groups such as non-literate women and men, HIV-positive people, out-of-school youth, orphans, vulnerable children and primary school pupils with poor literacy skills. Hence, the Integrated Intergenerational Literacy Project (IILP) was conceived for the key purpose of promoting intergenerational literacy skills and socio-economic development.

Background and Context

In recent years, the government of Uganda has made concerted attempts to reduce the levels of illiteracy among its population through Universal Primary Education (UPE) for children and Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) for adults and out-of-school youth. However, the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of these programmes has been undermined by a lack of adequate resources, an acute shortage of trained manpower, a severe lack of educational and other instructional materials, a shortage of learning spaces and insufficient motivation for teachers and literacy facilitators due to poor working conditions. As a result, many needy people have failed to benefit from the UPE and FAL programmes, and the situation remains particularly dire for disadvantaged rural communities whose access to educational amenities such as libraries, proper educational infrastructure (buildings) and teachers continues to be limited. The situation is further aggravated by the ongoing armed conflict in northern Uganda.

As a result, the rural areas that are home to 80% of Uganda’s population continue to suffer from high rates of illiteracy, poor health conditions and poverty. According to recent studies, 30 to 40% of Uganda's adult population is non-literate; the HIV infection rate stands at 6.2%; 30 to 38% of children living in rural areas drop out of school; and 35 to 38% of the population live below the poverty line.

The situation is even worse among the war-affected people of northern Uganda, including Arua district. A 2005 report on the socio-economic conditions in the district revealed that just 41% of those aged 6 to 24 eligible to attend school actually do so, while 3% are temporarily out of school, 28% have left school altogether and a further 28% have never attended school. Of the 135,000 children who had dropped out of school at the time of the study, 68% were girls and 32% were boys – a clear indication that girls’ educational opportunities continue to be more limited than boys’.

In addition, the study further revealed that the quality of education in Arua district, as in other rural districts, is adversely affected by a severe lack of resources and professional teachers, as well as high student-to-teacher ratios and large class sizes. As a result, most children graduate from the primary school level without having mastered basic literacy and numeracy skills, and many of them fail to proceed to secondary level. Similarly, the few adult literacy centres that exist in the rural areas face severe resource and manpower shortages, making the provision of efficient and effective literacy instruction extremely problematic. It was in response to these challenges and gaps in the rural education sector that IILP was conceived. IILP is currently the only literacy programme in the district and has attracted over 300 children and 500 adult learners. To date, the project has established a total of 15 intergenerational literacy learning centres in Arua district.

Project Objectives

As noted above, URLCODA’s main objective is to foster literacy skills as a means of empowering rural communities and promoting socio-economic development and transformation. The underlying principle is therefore to promote literacy for sustainable local development. Hence, the IILP aims to:

Approaches and Methodologies

The main focus of the project is to provide intergenerational literacy education that boosts people’s ability to respond to the challenges confronting their communities. The aim is to build the literacy skills of all people, irrespective of age or economic status, so that each member of society can make a meaningful contribution to the process of social transformation. To this end, the IILP employs a unique approach which integrates livelihoods and life skills training into literacy learning, focusing on:

Formal literacy classes are conducted twice a week from 2 to 6 p.m. Each literacy centre has an average of 50 - 80 learners and 3 volunteer educators at any given time. Most of the volunteer educators are primary school teachers or medical personnel who are recruited and trained in adult education by URLCODA. The educators are encouraged to employ a variety of teaching methods in order to motivate and capture the attention of learners. Key methods include: lectures; focus group discussions and debates; role play and field exchange visits which allow learners to learn from each others' experiences. In addition, informal literacy campaigns are also conducted by means of public lectures in churches, trading centres and market places, as well as through literacy based health competitions or peace-building activities.

Innovative strategies are being employed to increase the number of volunteer educators. For example, current volunteers are now developing a concept known as Virtual Rural Community Healthcare Volunteers (VRCHV) to handle community health literacy week activities. This approach will require just one person to be based at the centre, while the others can be accessed using a variety of ICTs.

Furthermore, URLCODA is working to improve the outreach and effectiveness of IILP through close collaboration with governmental and non-governmental organizations in the field of community development. One such organization is the Uganda Programme for Human and Holistic Development (UPHOLD) that facilitates dialogue and consensus-building between families, communities, teachers and other stakeholders. Similarly, URLCODA has developed a good partnership with the local government, non-governmental organizations and a missionary hospital in Arua and works with them on the implementation of community health literacy week activities. Such partnerships have proved to be an efficient and cost-effective means of providing health services and literacy education to a large proportion of the rural population.

Project Impact and Challenges

Impact and Achievements

The following lists a number of the project’s achievements:

Adult Class

Adult Class

Book Launch

Book Launch

Challenges

Despite the successes noted above, the effective implementation of this project is hampered by a number of challenges, which include:

Lessons Learned

Sustainability

In an attempt to address the challenges posed by a lack of adequate funding, URLCODA has established a grinding mill and poultry projects. The vision is to plough the income generated from these project into IILP in order to ensure its long-term sustainability.

Learners are also being encouraged and assisted to form loan and savings club, both to boost their livelihood skills and as a means of attracting and retaining more literacy learners. As membership grows, it is hoped that the members will contribute to the production of learning materials.

References

Contact

Willy Ngaka
URLCODA
P. O. Box 3069
Kampala/Uganda

or

P. O. Box 1000
Arua/Uganda
E-mail: wngaka (at) yahoo.co.uk
or urlcoda (at) yahoo.co.uk

Last update: 30 June 2011