IN FIVE MONTHS OF LEARNING LITERACY TRAINEES PRESERVE WITH THEIR LEARNING
The Rights and Rice Foundation team in the north of Liberiahave reported that literacy learners in 10 communities, with 300 learners haveshown great enthusiasm and motivation. After almost five months of their elevenmonths training course, attendance rate is reported to be around 90%. This is significant for number of reasons.Firstly the participants are all women, who have never had the opportunity toattend any formal or non-formal school. Secondly they are hard working mothers,grandmothers and women who have to work very hard in the field, along withtheir male counterparts to provide for their families. Thirdly and in spite oftheir very busy schedule, the women are determined to complete their trainingcourse.
The training is done on average three days a week withparticipants choosing their own time table, usually two hours a day. Usually the training takes place at the endof a hard working day for the women. Their eagerness to learn, using keroseneand portable solar lamps during sessions is exemplary.
Such enthusiasm among women comes against the backgroundthat women have for a long time being denied access to education on culturaland other grounds. They see thisopportunity as a once in a life time and are intent to take full advantage ofit.
Rights and Rice Foundation is grateful for the support ofour donors and can assure that by your various donations you are transforminglives of people who were otherwise marginalized, lack access to information andopportunities and who are now taking their rightful place in building Liberia’syoung democracy.
Report by James M. Yarsiah
Project Leader, Liberia
December 26, 2012
Madame Musu Konneh is a member of a literacy session started in May in Vaye Town, Gbarpolu County, one of 9 community sessions recently initiated in this area of Liberia. The program has as its aim to empower potential women leaders who have been constrained to play leadership roles, owing in part to the fact that they do not speak or write English. It is also within the context of the RRF’s program of getting citizens to become active in the dialogue on how natural resource governance takes place. Musu is the Vice Chair of the community’s Project Management Committee, a group put together by residents to advocate lobbying for additional resources to realize their development goals and achieve greater benefits from the extraction of natural resources in their areas.
In her paraphrased words, Musu told our staff members during a recent training program, with regards to the success she has made in the literacy numeracy training: ‘This program has helped me greatly. Before the program with RRF, I was unable to stand and even speak in front of people, but today I am able to spell and write my name correctly. Today I can talk during our town hall meeting because of this program. This program is too good to us, I am now able to talk to my Representative (law maker from the area) for our people. My children and grandchildren are so proud of me; I am very proud of myself.’ Madame Musu continued, ‘All the training we have received is helping us now in the town, which is to make us work together in the district, and we want this program to go to all parts of the county.’
Madame Musu Konneh is one of over 100 women who are enrolled in the RRF program of basic literacy, numeracy and empowerment for women leaders in the area. There are many other women like her who are so proud and feel glad that they can benefit from the program.
With more support from our donors many more women, who had not had the opportunity to enroll in formal or non formal education programs before can develop confidence in themselves, advocate for the cause of women and children and dialogue with policy makers for increased development for their areas.
Rights and Rice Foundation
TAKING ON OWNERSHIP OF THE LITERACY SESSION BY COMMUNITY DWELLERS
In Foya District, Lofa County, Rights and Rice Foundation has implemented two years of functional adult literacy program in twenty communities with women who did not have any formal education, participating in the program.
In April 2012, a team of field staffs from Rights and Rice Foundation (RRF) visited five of the project communities of Foya District as means of making follow up on community initiatives for sustainability measures of the program. The team encountered a literacy session in Bakamba during the evening hours. This evening session had fifteen women, six of which are beneficiaries of the first literacy project while nine are new to the session. According to the Volunteer Facilitator, Mr. Augustine Tamba, the session was established in February 2012 supported by the entire community to continue the initiatives to help other women who did not have the opportunity to be a part of the first nine months project.
The evening session lasted for one day and ran for one hour thirty minutes day, compared to the regular two hours minimum a day for three days a week. This according to the Chair lady of the community, Ma Finda Saah, is due to the lack of kerosene, lighting system and stipend for the facilitator. This session is completely supported by the community. There are no pre-printed text books for the learners but the lessons suggested by the learners, were based on what they want to learn and practice that could be applied immediately to their life situations. Some of these lessons suggested by learners included the correct spelling for the names of their children, husbands' full name, community name, names of service providers and service delivery centers, names of vegetables produced household cooking utensils, two to three place multiplications, and two place addition and so on. These lessons are drawn from general discussions during the sessions about learners' domestic issues, farming activities and daily life situation.
One recommendation from the session was to help the volunteer facilitator with additional life skills training that would improve his skills and make the sessions more interesting for learners as well as the facilitator himself. Moreover, the learners stressed the need for assistance from donors in materials such as lamps and kerosene, to do the entire course.
The RRF team thanked the entire community especially the volunteer facilitator and the learning community for the initiatives of starting their own literacy sessions. The Team encouraged the community to continue their support for the literacy learners.
The significance of this community session is that it underlines the eagerness of the residents, women in particular, to get exposed to education. Most women historically in Liberia have been left far behind in education due primarily to cultural reasons which favored education of the boy child, while the girl child remained with the mother at home
LITERACY AND NUMERACY TRAINING CONTINUES TO RESTORE DIGNITY AND SELF RESPECT TO MANY LIBERIAN WOMEN
“In the just finished elections, I voted with a check mark using ink pen in the ballot box without any one helping me, as it happened before.”
Mrs. Kumba Fayiah, 37 years old literacy beneficiary, is a resident of Koindu Pormbor in Foya Statutory District Lofa County, Liberia. During the participant assessment survey Kumba Fayiah informed project staff that because she was illiteracy condition she faced several problems such from how to purchase correct sizes of footwear school requirement for her two children (3 girls & 2 boys) in the local market. She also had difficulty operate her cell phone, since she did not the English alphabets and numbers, all in English. Lastly she mentioned whenever she went to a training program she had to use her finger thumb to sign, while many of the other participants use their pens. This situation, Kumba said, brought shame to her as a mother in the home. With this situation Mrs. Kumba Fayiah registered for the literacy and numeracy program run by Rights and Rice Foundation in May 2010, and completed the nine months training program early 2011, a long time dream being fulfilled.
Later on in 2011, our team met Madam Kumba Fayiah when they visited her community during the Liberia general and presidential elections during a civic education tour. When they inquired from Madame Fayiah as to how she was doing, she responded enthusiastically:
“Oh I’m very happy to see you people here who helped us to know small thing about book (education); to say the truth what I learned really is helping me in my home. Now I can write my children sizes in my note book to help me remember them in the future. You see how I get sense, so I took my note book and went in the market and bought everything I wanted to buy according to the right sizes. When I came back home, I presented the materials; each of my children was so surprise and happy to see their footwear neat with the right sizes; they were running around the house in joy telling friends that our mother can now read and write. My husband was also happy; I feel proud and happy.”
“In the just finished elections, I voted with a check mark using a pen in the ballot box and not my finger thumb, without any one helping me, as it happened before. Because I can write numbers and my name well, I’m also benefiting from BRAC-Liberia micro-finance program, which gave me a small loan to do my business. Thank you yea (very much).”
Rights and Rice Foundation is proud to be part of the transformation taking place in the individual lives and communities in which we work. Literacy for dignity, respect and democracy is truly working in Liberia. We thank each of our donors, and would like to encourage you during these Christmas and New Year Holidays, to donate to this worthwhile project in Liberia.
Learners begin sustainability activities
In January 2011 Rights and Rice Foundation witnessed the graduation of close to 600 women learners in literacy and numeracy from 2009 and 2010 learning cycles. The women are literacy participants from 20 communities who have never been exposed to formal schooling. The graduates are now able to write their names, write numbers up to 100, attend to their medical needs, better manage their small businesses and moreover they are now informed about their civic rights and responsibilities and are now voting in elections in a more informed manner.
Due to the success of the first and second rounds of the training program, 15 of the communities have decided to undertake their own projects which will help to fund raise and help finance part of their training costs including training workbooks, and cover part of the remuneration for their training facilitators. This assistance will help other women to enroll in the program who did not take part in the first or second cycles. The current graduates will also further their learning.
With the support of our donors, we are truly witnessing the transformation of the roles of rural women from just serving as housewives and are now actively involved as agents for positive change in their communities. They are now active participants in their communities taking major decisions, with their male counterparts, on the issues which affect their lives.
Rights and Rice Foundation will undertake training programs for the community learners in the areas of small business and group management, as well as technical skills training in the various projects such as vegetable, rice, root and tuber production which proceeds they will market and save money for their learning programs. We are very encouraged by this initiative of the learners and will appreciate the support from our donors to augment the efforts of communities in helping to expand and replicate the success being recorded.
Prepared by Rights and Rice Foundation, Liberia - October 2011
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