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Ibrahim El-Salahi Pain Relief at The Saatchi Gallery, London

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Why Literacy Matters  Why Community Literacy Works 

Why Literacy Matters 


“Women make up two thirds of those who are unable to read and write in the world. This is a symptom of the fact that girls have been disproportionately excluded from education for generations, but it is also a fundamental injustice against women.” 

“Lack of literacy skills is holding back development and economic growth in the world’s poorest countries.”


“To engage effectively in the marketplace or the public sphere, whether dealing with contracts and title deeds, basic services, government offices, politics or wage slips, you must be able to read and write.”


“Successful adult literacy is all about connectedness – connectedness of literacy to other rights”


“Literacy in short, is the fertilizer needed for development and democracy to take root and grow.  It is the invisible ingredient in any successful strategy for eradicating poverty. Unfortunately, in recent years it has become all too invisible.”


“Multi-country studies show clear connections between literacy levels in a country and both economic output and GDP per capita growth.”

All extracts above from Writing the Wrongs – International Benchmarks on Adult Literacy



Our Community Literacy Expert, Dr. Leila Bashir –  Learn more about her in About and 100 Women Changing the World

Learn more about our literacy work here: Literacy Circles in Action and Community Literacy and REFLECT and Scenes from the Circles

Please consider giving to our life-changing work. Just click on the link below to donate quickly and securely:

 Virgin Money Giving

All Photographs in this blog are copyright Imogen Thurbon and may not be reproduced without written permission.


Ten Reasons Why Community-Based Literacy Programs Work


“This study is the largest ever attempt to systems experience of what works in adult literacy. We analyzed 67 successful literacy programs in 35 countries …….it turns out that we do know what works in adult literacy and there is no great mystery..”

The data below is taken from Writing the Wrongs – International Benchmarks on Adult Literacy


Household surveys show that most of the people living on less than one dollar a day are those who have had little or no access to education and who are unable to read and write. Community literacy programs take a holistic approach to literacy, numeracy and employment skills. 


One of the awareness activities undertaken in our literacy circles 


A literacy circle participant teaching others about numeracy through pattern design for decorative items to be sold locally 



Each extra year of education for mothers is associated with a significant decline in infant mortality and improved child health. Community literacy programs help empower mothers in childcare and general health.



Children with parents (especially mothers) who can read and write stay in school longer and achieve more. Our programs empower mothers, grandmothers and sisters to participate in the education of their children. 

Learn more about the role of older women in literacy in Grandmother’s School


Summary of one of our literacy circle sessions 




Children with illiterate parents are much more likely to die before they are five years old. Our programs provide specialist support for families of our participants suffering or at risk from health problems. 

Jebel Aulia


80% of literacy programs respondents in studies referenced in Writing the Wrongs International Benchmarks on Adult Literacy made a connection to citizenship – references to political literacy, awareness of rights and capacity to engage with external agencies.


Summary of one of our literacy circle activities 


Using games to consolidate literacy skills 


50% of literacy program respondents referenced in Writing the Wrongs – International Benchmarks on Adult Literacy made a direct connection with promoting gender equality or changing gender roles and relations.


Testimony by one of our literacy graduates 

Learn more about gender empowerment in Voices


Discussing disease prevention campaigns in the neighborhood 



The ability to read for pleasure, write letters or keep a journal serve as powerful sources of women’s creativity, cultural interaction as self-empowerment. 

Learn more about the power of personal story telling in literacy in The River of Life




Literacy programs work when the acquisition of reading, writing and numeracy feeds into the development of active citizenship, improved health and livelihoods and gender equality. 


Summary of one of our literacy circles 


Dr.Leila Bashir training literacy workers in creative approaches 

Learn more about how our literacy workers are trained in Training the Trainer



“Literacy programs work when learners are encouraged to see multiple levels of literacy  – always to conceive their learning as ongoing and cumulative – not as a single magic line to cross…” We follow up and support our graduates and are working on bridging programs that will allow them to continue their education or vocational training after graduating. 



 “As little as $150 to $300 per learner, if invested in a well designed literacy program, can not only equip an adult with sustainable reading, writing and numeracy skills but also contribute towards wider empowerment and community development.”


One of our most inspiring and dedicated literacy workers 


This is a literacy blogpost for Women’s Education Partnership

We operate on a shoestring. 

Please consider giving to our life-changing work. Just click on the link below to donate quickly and securely:

 Virgin Money Giving



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