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Food Security in Literacy

Many literacy learners live in conditions of poverty.  Many are hungry, and their families are hungry.  They come to literacy to find a way to improve their living conditions.  

The challenge for literacy educators is to help literacy learners to access food.  The approach may be short-term – arranging for food parcels or a feeding scheme – or longer-term, in which learners produce their own food.  Some educators work on both challenges.

The problem with finding donations of food is that the learners may not develop the drive and self-reliance to grow their own food.  Operation Upgrade believes it is generally better to help literacy learners to start food projects, to help themselves.  These projects may be vegetable-growing, keeping livestock, growing a crop to sell, or co-operative buying to reduce food prices.

Part of a self-help project may be running a savings club or a ‘stokvel’ to raise money for a larger project.  But this should follow a project to provide food.

Some examples of food security projects for literacy groups:

  • Buying and selling second-hand clothes
  • Growing vegetables, in a garden or in a food tunnel
  • Keeping chickens and other livestock
  • Making goods for sale – like leather belts, or making candles
  • Growing crops for eating or for sale
  • Collecting and selling goods like firewood, or coal
A customer buys vegetable seedlings
from a literacy learner

The educator who wants to introduce a food security project must be sure that it will work, that the project will provide the money or the food that people need.



HIV and AIDS and literacy learning

The educators in training on the HIV and AIDS course make a list of the AIDS topics they want to cover in literacy lessons.  Then in groups they plan lessons on the basis outlined above.  After the course they make their own lesson plans that incorporate some of the HIV/AIDS topics.

EMSENI Community Centre

We have set up a community centre in KwaNibela, called Emseni Community Centre. (“Emseni” means Place of Kindness.) We have built two large rondavels there, one to accommodate our staff and visitors, and one for storage.

The UNESCO Confucius Prize

“The UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy was awarded to Operation Upgrade of South Africa, for the “KwaNibela Project”, and continues the Organisation’s 40-year history of commitment and change.  Website Hosted by Pro Hosting Internet Services