Literacy for Social Change (The Integration of Literacy and Action) - What could it mean for you? January 19 - 23, 2008

Dear Colleagues:

Join the Adult Literacy Professional Development Discussion List to explore the role of literacy in international social change initiatives and what it could mean for you in your community. Literacy for Social Change is the term ProLiteracy uses to describe its approach to basic education and literacy in more than 50 developing countries worldwide. Lynn Curtis, Vice President of International Programs at ProLiteracy, will be our guest. Author of Literacy for Social Change and several literacy and action manuals used in developing countries, Dr. Curtis directs the international work of ProLiteracy.

Visit ProLiteracy's International Literacy for Social Change Training Project Web page to view over 100 resources to support literacy for social change and to take free online courses - Overcoming Poverty Through Action-based Literacy or Literacy for Social Change.

Literacy for Social Change International Training Project Web page.

This is the second discussion in a miniseries on Literacy for Social Change. The first in the series explored Student Involvement and Critical Thinking in Adult Literacy.



About the Discussion

Literacy for Social Change (The Integration of Literacy and Action) - What could it mean for you?

Literacy for Social Change is the term ProLiteracy uses to describe its approach to basic education and literacy in more than 50 developing countries worldwide. It is a methodology that integrates four critical components-fundamental skills, critical thinking, cultural expression and learner-initiated action. In practice, this integration involves a wide range of educational programs combined with an equally diverse spectrum of community change projects.

In Moshi, Tanzania, literacy classes emphasize the vocabulary and information to start a small business and as part of the curriculum, all learners initiate and expand their own businesses. In Madurai, India, women confront the forces of gender violence through a learning and action program they call "Literacy to Eradicate Female Infanticide." In Calamar, Colombia, literacy learners discussed health vocabulary and as a class project, built and managed a village health clinic.

In thousands of similar classes worldwide, facilitators organize learners to practice and apply their emerging literacy skills in such life changing projects as building and running schools for their children, preventing and treating AIDS, constructing latrines, drilling clean water wells, combating malaria, creating aquaculture ponds, planting community gardens, documenting citizenship, fighting domestic abuse and a host of other applications. Many of these literacy programs not only develop local community applications, but also participate actively in advocacy effort to influence policy, legislation and practices on a community, district and even national level.

Could or should this approach be applied in your community?

Some observers in the United States and other industrialized nations question the practicality of this method in developed settings where health, income, schools and community infrastructure are already in place. They often site the many rules and restrictions that would inhibit such programs. Others champion this approach and are in fact making it happen in their communities. Have you encountered or worked with a literacy for social change program? What barriers or drawbacks do you think are associated with this type of programming? What benefits do you think might be realized through integrating literacy, community action and advocacy? What problems? Could or should there be legislation or funding to advance literacy for social change? Should literacy be mixed with the inherently political process of community change?

Feel free to share your thoughts, experiences, perspectives and questions about this compelling topic. For more insight and information about Literacy for Social Change, you may want to sample one of two free and very brief online courses from ProLiteracy.



Discussion Resources

Enroll in ProLiteracy's free self-paced courses: Overcoming Poverty Through Action-based Literacy or Literacy for Social Change.

Literacy for Social Change International Training Project Web Site

Related Link:
Education for All (EFA) Movement



About Our Guest

Lynn Curtis, Ph.D.-Vice President of International Programs, ProLiteracy
For more than 3 decades, Lynn Curtis, Vice President of International Programs for ProLiteracy, has served in consulting and leadership roles to advance grassroots learning and development among high need populations in 65 developing countries and the United States.

Dr. Curtis is an international authority on literacy and community development in less-developed nations. He is author of the guidebooks Literacy for Social Change, Picturing Change, and manuals in the Literacy Solutions series - Literacy in Action, How to Start and Grow Your Own Business, Good Health Begins at Home, Overcoming AIDS, Overcoming Diseases in Your Community, Literacy in Action and Earth Connections.

Dr. Curtis spearheaded ProLiteracy Worldwide's expansion from seven countries in 1986 to 65 countries in 2008. He provided the leadership to initiate and implement the global Women In Literacy initiative to reach 1.1 million women through literacy and action during the decade of the nineties. His pioneering experience in developing the FAMA and Literacy Solutions training systems provided the basis for program expansion, overseas intern placement and multi-national agency collaborations. Since 2000 he has successfully enabled venture-philanthropist donor activists to launch high impact, multi nation programs of learning and community development including the Learning-based Micro-Finance and Enterprise Initiative, the Africa Learning and AIDS Initiative, the Literacy, Women and Human Rights Initiative and the International Family Literacy Initiative.




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