According to World Bank adult literacy is when the population that is above 15 years of age can understand basic numeracy and literacy.The adult literacy program is not new in the Malawi context. Due to lack of resources and poor access there are still gaps on the ground. Presently, illiteracy rates in Malawi are reportedly around as high as 25% in urban areas although this figure may admittedly be higher in the rural areas due to lack of access. While the government has attempted to close the gaps, the efforts are slow in other places and the women of Nkhafi now redefine the landscape in this area.
Identifying their need to read and write, the women of Nkhafi initiated a community owned adult literacy program. These self aware women take the CHE framework to a new level, they identified two younger women who will spearhead the basic literacy and numeracy drive. The women leadership approached the Catholic Church who agreed to offer them classroom space.
“We are going to buy our own books and pens. We will make blackboard out of charcoal. Each woman will contribute towards an incentive package for our two teachers. We are asking you (CHE) for Standard 1 and 2 text books to be used by our teachers,” said Magret Banda. Mrs Banda is keen to become literate and demonstrates that age will not inhibit her from getting the skills she considers essential towards the development of the women in Malawi.
Out of the 42 who attended the session only two could read and write. “Most of us women can not read or write. I failed in business and could not follow antenatal follow-up dates when I was pregnant because I could not read what was written on my health passport book. Enough is enough! I want to read,” added Mrs Nikolasi.
For the women of Nkhafi community Friday, the 16th May marks a new beginning with the kick-start of their adult literacy initiative. Currently, classes will be conducted twice weekly, Mondays and Fridays from 2 – 4pm.
The women believe that reading and writing are fundamental life skills that can bring change to their lives.
As the journey continues!!!
Photos courtesy of TheHDi.
By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo