Sept 8: International Literacy Day: My Literacy Reflections

Today is International Literacy Day, and in honor of this, it’s time to reflect on literacy…

…schools are full of children and yet every day there are children who do not go to school….

…overcoming adult illiteracy means understanding the power relationships…we say “the power is with the pen”…and yet do we reflect on how that same lack of power affects the illiterate?

…adults learners do not need to start their literacy journey by learning their a,b,c’s but rather they can start with things they understand, like their name…

…if someone cannot read what you write, how will they know you are about to take their home or business…in Accra, landlords will spray paint notices on street-side vendor stalls requesting payment or threatening eviction and yet, can the owners read the notices? Maybe, maybe not….literacy is strongly linked to a person’s rights and their ability to understand those rights.

…even text messaging requires basic reading and writing skills…

…until we have equality of all people, we do not have equality between women and men…

…until we can figure out how to fund effective literacy programs for all we cannot change the world…

…I have friends who cannot read this blog…

…literacy matters…

…what can we all do about it…

…I have an idea

I may need your help…

Talk soon,

A musing Maureen

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Lessons in Literacy

Pamoja Ghana, or Ghana REFLECT Practitioners Network, focuses on literacy and works with the most disadvantaged populations who are often in rural areas.  Over this weekend, I have been reading about the practice of REFLECT and must say that I find it eye opening to consider the concepts presented in the REFLECT material and some of the assumptions, beliefs and cultural norms that I associate with literacy. 

What does literacy mean to you?  Consider your definition.  When you think of literacy, do you think of reading and writing skills, perhaps even numeracy skills, or the broader concept of effective communication skills for everyday matters?  Is reading and writing more valued than other forms of literacy in your culture?

How do power relationships play a role in literacy?  Where power positions exist (and they do) how are all voices heard effectively and equally, particularly the voices of the disadvantaged, or those for whom the written word in documents/signs/etc. is in a language that is not their mother tongue?

Think about the concept of power as it relates to literacy.  What do you associate with power that is also associated with literacy?  Consider two different tool sets : pencil and paper or pen and portfolio….which one would you associate with a more powerful position?  The follow-up question of course is, why do we make that association?

How is literacy different than schooling?  How do adult learners who are exploring literacy feel about being being associated with “going back to school” as compared to ‘learning new skills’ and how do we empower adult learners to avoid the stigmas of illiteracy and give themselves their own power as they explore literacy?

My reading so far….and there is more to read….is enlightening for me and allows me to begin to question some of the assumptions, beliefs, and norms of the culture from which I come. 

I find it all very interesting.