Boost for adult literacy in Southern Africa PDF  | Print |  E-mail

For the first time SADC countries have got together to address one of the most urgent social issues in developing Africa – the immediate need for basic literacy for adults. There are over 28 million illiterate adults in SADC countries.  National governments and NGOs are struggling to bring literacy education opportunities to all their people.

Representatives from adult literacy organizations from Southern Africa participated in an exciting information exchange on September 7th-8th, 2010 at the Blue Marlin Hotel in Scottburgh, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  September 8th was also International Literacy Day.

This conference has been a breakthrough in communications between neighbouring countries and it would appear that it should be an annual event from here on. This is the first time that adult literacy practitioners from Malawi, Zimbabwe,  Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa have worked together to share their experiences of adult literacy delivery practices and the challenges to implementing effective and successful adult literacy programmes.  The keynote address was presented by Dr. Lynn Curtis, Vice President of International Programs at ProLiteracy Worldwide (

The Adult Literacy Information Exchange is part of the International Reading Association/Rotary International Partnership.  The partners include Rotary Districts 7950 (Massachusetts/Rhode Island, USA) and 9270 (South Africa), Operation Upgrade (an adult literacy NGO in South Africa), Massachusetts University Reading Educators and Massachusetts Reading Association.

One of the primary objectives of the Adult Literacy Information Exchange was to celebrate International Literacy Day. Another major aim was to discuss successes and challenges in implementing adult literacy programmes.  Each presenter gave an overview of the adult literacy organization and then engaged with the other participants in lively and productive discussions about the key issues in organizing and carrying out their programmes.  Some of the major challenges facing the organizations are sustainable funding; the development of suitable literacy teaching techniques and materials; the preparation and retention of qualified literacy educators; and maintaining the "political will" to support adult literacy and skills training.  A particularly difficult challenge is to improve the understanding of and support for programmes for out-of-school youth, who are not eligible to be in school, but who do not have enough education to hold jobs.  And several country representatives expressed their intention to introduce small business and food security into their literacy programmes: the conference theme “Literacy for Social Change’ was a leading factor

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