Flexibility in adult literacy programmes: Lessons learnt from Botswana

Type Journal Article - Language Matters: Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa
Title Flexibility in adult literacy programmes: Lessons learnt from Botswana
Volume 35
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2004
Page numbers 390-406
URL http://www.cees.mak.ac.ug/sites/default/files/LANGV352-George.pdf#page=50
Literacy programmes must be designed with the learners' needs, lifestyle and culture
in mind. When assumptions about learners are inaccurate, or when all learners are
assumed to be similar, the literacy programme may face challenges that seem
insurmountable. Many aspects of the Tswana adult literacy programme in Botswana
are based on accurate assumptions about learners who live in villages. However,
many pre-literates in Botswana live in rural areas outside of villages. The needs,
lifestyle and culture of these pre-literates are different from those of village residents.
Aspects of the Tswana literacy programme that work well in villages sometimes
prevent the spread of literacy in more rural areas. Some simple programme
alterations, which take into account the needs of the more rural learners, have
enabled learners in one rural area to become literate. Such programme alterations
included, inter alia, the creative use of resources, the inclusion of activities to build
pre-literacy skills, adapting to social and cultural norms, taking dialect variation and
varying language ability into account, and empowering learners and their schoolchildren
to share knowledge with others.

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