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

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E5E68D8E-ECA2-4274-8AB3-68AD5E4E110AIn title photo, our literacy group analyzing family income and expenditure while learning to read and write the terms they need. 

Making a Difference, Part 1 – Establishing Impact

This is a literacy post for Women’s Education Partnership

fullsizerender-234Above, one of our older participants. The highest levels of illiteracy are found among women over 60 in Sudan. More about the challenges faced by our older learners in Grandmother’s School

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

 Virgin Money Giving

Below, a Women’s Education Partnership literacy graduate writes:


“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. Writing the Wrongs

fullsizerender-33.jpgLiteracy circle al El Fatih

“Successful adult literacy is all about connectedness – connectedness of literacy to other rights”(as above)

This is a literacy post for Women’s Education Partnership

Learn more about our literacy work in Literacy Changes Lives and Windows

img_9725-2Above, a literacy session on health and disease prevention


The Impact of Our Literacy Work, Part 1 of 2

What We Do and Why    How We Work    Defining Our Terms   

In Part 2, I will discuss Our Goals, Our Opportunities and Challenges and Our Financial Accountability  

See At a Glance for Our Scale and Reach 


What We Do and Why




Introduction – Our Presence 

Women’s Education Partnership has exercised quietly committed and continuous humanitarian presence  over more than three decades of profound and often turbulent  political, economic and cultural change in Sudan. Recent historic events in Sudan have only strengthened the need for our continuing role in opening up women’s access to education. 

UN Women identify women’s participation in governance, the integration of gender equality priorities into peace-building initiatives, implementing mechanisms for ending violence against women and women’s economic empowerment as central to Sudan’s future stability.  Our work in a small but important way contributes to those aims.

Learn more here: Women’s Education Partnership – our history.

img_7929Source – Writing the Wrongs 


What We Do 

We provide community-based, development through literacy programs for the most disadvantaged of Sudanese women living in the poorest districts of Khartoum.   While the Sudanese capital enjoys relative prosperity when compared with other regions, it is estimated that a quarter of its population live below the poverty line. The communities we seek out and serve score worst on The International Individual Deprivation Measure  in terms of access to basic sanitary, nutritional and fuel resources.  Learn more in Literacy Circles in Action


Most women in our target communities have fled conflict, climate change-induced resources loss and economic hardship in their homelands  of Darfur and Kordofan.  Learn more about the impact of climate change in Heat and Dust.  Many women formerly dependent on rural  work gravitate to the capital in hope of more secure livelihoods and are in urgent need of urban skillsets, including basic literacy and numeracy, to enable them and their families to flourish. According to UNICEF, 3.2 million people were internally displaced, including 1.9% children in 2016 in Sudan and researchers estimate that 13% of the internally displaced in Khartoum come from Darfur.  The internally displaced are amongst the poorest of the capital and most negatively impacted by illiteracy, poor health and poverty in a country with stark centre versus periphery divides.  Read more about the challenges facing our participants in The River of Life

066F3F3F-5D2C-48E4-9182-D26337F6C14BDiscussing and mapping local infrastructure – Jebel Aulia

The number of our participants who are sole breadwinners is disproportionately high when compared with the one in six (17.3%) national average of households headed by women. Among these households, 44.2 percent are below the poverty line.  Many of our participants seek training in additional income-generating activities as part of their literacy and numeracy program. 

img_7926Source – Writing the Wrongs

fullsizerender-379Jebel Aulia literacy circle wall posters on nutrition  


Why – The Principles Underpinning Our Work 

We recognize that increased literacy among women is a key factor in eradicating crippling poverty, breaking the cycle of intergenerational educational and economic disadvantage and in furthering the empowerment of women. We recognize that women and girls are disproportionately disadvantaged when their right to literacy is denied. And we recognize that with limited time and opportunity to benefit from literacy classes, adult women often remain illiterate – a factor that also accounts significantly for intergenerational illiteracy. Adult Literacy and Women

img_7938Sudan illiteracy rates – National Council for Literacy and Adult Education, Sudan 

img_7937Source – UN/ UNICEF

Our work is therefore informed and guided by UN 2030 Sustainability Goals 1, 4 and 5 (UN Sustainability Goal 1: No Poverty, UN Sustainability Goal: 4 Quality Education and UN Sustainabilty Goal 5 – Gender Equality).

img_7928Poverty and illiteracy – a vicious circle 

Sudan, like most developing countries, sees improving primary school uptake as the key to eradicating illiteracy longterm but this approach overlooks fundamental rights of adult women to education and the positive intergenerational impact that literate mothers have. We recognize as valid Nelly Stromquist’s call for renewed focus on explicit adult literacy for women.

img_7936Source – World Bank 

Early marriage, which many of our participants have experienced firsthand, is also highly correlated with young girls never attending school or abandoning both primary and secondary schooling.  Nguyen and Woden – see more in Educating Girls and Ending Child Marriage: A Priority for Africa World Bank Group 132200-WP-P168381-PUBLIC-11-20-18-Africa-GE-CM-Conference-Edition2

img_7941Sudan -girls-child-marriage

Integrated into our program is open and critical analysis by participants of marriage and other customs so as to break intergenerational cycles of early marriage and illiteracy through attitudinal change.  Learn more in Child Marriage

Below, incorporating human rights awareness into facilitators’ training 



How We Work – Our Literacy Methodology 

The REFLECT development through literacy approach that informs our work enjoys UN recognition as highly effective in delivering practical educational, employment and gender empowerment – learn more about the REFLECT approach, introduced into Sudan in 1998, here: Community Literacy and REFLECT  and in Challenges to Literacy SS57_Thurbon

img_7885Discussing malaria prevention – included in the REFLECT syllabus 

The REFLECT approach draws on community knowledge, participants’ life experience and existing skills and marries participants’ initiatives and needs with the relevant literacy and numeracy input. The dialogue-based approach covers issues such as disease prevention, health and hygiene, income generation, nutrition and community leadership.  See Training the Trainer to learn about our training in practice 

img_7886Crafts for income generation 

We work with and under the guidance of internationally recognized expert in REFLECT and Women’s Community Literacy, Dr. Leila Bashir, founder of the Sudan Pamoja REFLECT Network, member of National Council for Literacy and Adult Education, and strive to provide regular high level  and innovative training and refresher input for our literacy facilitators, in addition to developing and adapting training manuals that meet the needs of our participants.  We work under the auspices of Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission. 

img_8364Dr. Leila Bashir in facilitator training 


We are committed to developing objectively measurable, evidence-based systems of testing the effectiveness our work, based on internationally recognized educational and female empowerment parameters.  We are in the process of extensive, survey-based analysis of our impact, based on attitudinal, social, economic and educational  fields. 

img_7888Extract from monthly literacy report referring to community conflict resolution 

We are committed to developing effective longterm follow-up systems for our literacy graduates to  establish their contribution to their communities in terms of positive change and empowerment, and to support them to continue their education or pursue vocational training after they graduate. 

img_7898Our REFLECT manual, especially adapted to Sudanese cultural norms 


Defining Our Terms

We adopt Naila Kabeer’s definition of empowerment  as “the process by which those who have been denied the ability to make strategic life choices acquire such an ability.”

This enables us to apply a Resources, Agency and Achievements analytical framework to our work – 


Resources – gaining access to material, human, and social resources that enhance people’s ability to exercise choice, including knowledge, attitudes, and preferences.

See Community Literacy and REFLECT and Literacy Circles in Action to learn more about these aspects as applied in our literacy circles

Agency – increasing participation, voice, negotiation, and influence in decision-making about strategic life choices

See Voices to learn more about these aspects in practice in our literacy circles 

Achievements – the meaningful improvements in well-being and life outcomes that result from increasing agency, including health, education, earning opportunities, rights, and political participation.  For more on how we apply these aspects, see Windows,  Bread and Salt and Literacy Changes Lives



See At a Glance – Our Scale and Reach  


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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