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Creating a “Literate” Environment: Hidden Dimensions and Policy Implications Peter Easton Florida State University WG/NFE.

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Presentation on theme: "Creating a “Literate” Environment: Hidden Dimensions and Policy Implications Peter Easton Florida State University WG/NFE."— Presentation transcript:

1 Creating a “Literate” Environment: Hidden Dimensions and Policy Implications Peter Easton Florida State University WG/NFE

2 Methodology and organization of the study Synthesis of two previous research efforts (Club du Sahel and World Bank), 40 years of personal experience, and a review of related literature Approach: Rely on lived experience to the extent possible, seek local frames for conceptualization. Jiri mèn o mèn ji la, a te se ka ke bama ye. But the devil too can quote scripture. Organization: Anatomy of a literate environment Analysis of “hidden” dimensions Case examples Recommendations References: See complete document

3 What do we mean by a “literate” environment? Planning and Resource Provision Participation and Learning Application and Impact

4 A short history of “post-literacy” Lessons from the origin of literacy in the ancient fertile crescent Early UNESCO approaches: literacy as holy water Discovery of the “post- literacy” problem, a useful misnomer Drawing the lessons: Implement post-literacy before literacy.

5 Dimensions of a literate environment: The well- and the less well-recognized A. Educational aspects 1. Reading material 2. Continuing education a) Linkages to formal schooling b) Access to further training and lifelong learning B. Socio-economic aspects 1. Assumption of new responsibility in existing institutions 2. Creation of new businesses and associations

6 Drilling down to the hidden dimensions Socio-economic connections often lie outside the comfort zone of educators First clues from history: the challenges of management responsibility. Use current field experience to better explicate the connections. The key issue is the articulation between literacy and its social, economic and political uses. And we need an understanding applicable to regions where “modern labor markets” are very scarce.

7 Dovetailing literacy and its applications in rural Africa: The example of agricultural marketing The dynamics of progressive self- management of commercial crop markets in the Sahel. The role of literacy and nonformal education The skills required of peasant managers … and of literacy educators!

8 In cr ea si ng le ve ls of te ch ni ca l ski ll re qu ire d SKILLREQUIREMENTSSKILLREQUIREMENTS JOB ANALYSISLESSON PLANPOLICY ADJUSTMENTS LevelTechnical or social function Actual duties required Particular KSA needed Training entailed Staffing adjustment Policy changes I Weigher, Recorder Read scales, record sales Numeracy: reading, writing numbers to 1000 Level 1 numeracy (3 weeks) Train agency staff for monitoring Develop salary scales II Inventory clerk Keep stock accounting + Addition, subtraction Level 2 numeracy (6 weeks) Same III Assistant secretary Keep membership lists and records Basic literacy: read, write words Level 1 literacy (4 weeks) Etc. Complete legalization of association IV Assistant accountant Help keep financial accounting Complex addition- subtraction + simple multipl., div. Level 3 numeracy (12 weeks) Etc. Develop fund transfer merchanism V Executive staff Level 3 reading- writing Establish, read minutes and correspond. Level 2-3 literacy (8-12 weeks) Etc.Same D E S I G N R E Q U I R E M E N T S Dovetailing Literacy and Its Applications

9 A few things to note 1. Consequences for the learner a) Alternation between learning and application b) Increasing power and responsibility at each level 2. Consequences for the literacy agent a) Learning to see a development activity as a lesson plan b) Working out the authorizations, which all lie in other realms of development c) Literacy may not start with… literacy! 3. Consequences for the educational planner a) Learn to prospect new development domains where this kind of collaboration can take place. b) Discover to what degree the same type of approach is applicable in other sectors as well.

10 From the technical to the socio-political: Literacy as an instrument of organizational democracy  The problem of management power without accountability –In ba k’ira, me ya ci gawai? –But Kowa ya ba ka fawa, ya so kà yi fince;  A natural constraint: development on a double axis.

11 V IV III II I DCBA Social groups or categories of persons involved Training needed Requisite knowledge and skill Actual technical functions Level of responsi- bility assumed. Axis of progressive democratization

12 GENERAL PUBLIC OF LOCALITY TECHNICALSKILLTECHNICALSKILL Figure 1: Levels of technical capacity required in a democratic organization III. THE ENTIRE BODY OF STAKEHOLDERS II. POTENTIAL REPLACEMENT STAFF (AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS ) I. CURRENT STAFF Axis of monitoringAxis of accountability BUILDING ON A SOLID AND DEMOCRATIC BASE

13 From the socio-political to the economic: Managing, accumulating and reinvesting resources Remember: literacy was arguably invented as a tool for resource management. And similar contexts are often those in which it is most immediately useful for rural -- and informal sector -- development: E.g., micro-finance, marketing, new business start-up. The more so as, in situations of scarcity, resources must be somehow “collectivized” and managed. And that requires good accounting, management and communication.

14 So… a critical means for building civil society Combining technical, socio-political and financial dimensions approximates the formula for developing civil society at the local level …and for attaining sustainable development. As long as we don’t forget the “intellectual” and learning dimension that serves as glue and the cultural dimension on which all is based. Whence the notion of “five-fold capitalization” used in the PADLOS-Education Study:

15 PHYSICAL CAPITAL (Natural and Built Environment) Sustainable Development

16 Implementation How likely are literacy programs to accomplish all of this? Not very. Happily they don’t have to. Other resources: The decentralization movement across development sectors: its possibilities and limitations. The challenge of “local capacity building” But they – and their counterparts – do have to transform their own attitudes and practices: Overcoming the silo mentality in socio-economic development. Getting out of the “education box” in literacy and formal education. Significance for EFA: Education By All

17 Two morality tales from the field The “PADLOS-Education Study” ( ) A study carried out under the aegis of the CILSS and the Club du Sahel (OECD). Devoted to examining the issue of literacy-usage articulations from the other end: identify sites where local actors have taken over direction of development activities and then determine how they acquired the necessary knowledge, skills and aptitudes. Evaluating and reforming adult education policy at the World Bank Initially undertaken under the aegis of the Bank’s Human Development Network. Resistance to envisaging the intersectoral linkages required for effective local capacity building leads to termination of activity.

18 Concluding reflections on a “literate environment” Many important components but two critical axes: (a) continuing education and (b) local socio-economic development Educators feel most at home with A; yet arguably B is the most fundamental, for it is what durably creates written material and new training opportunities. “B” is partly dependent in turn on socio-political and economic policy, nationally and internationally: You can’t manage nothing. But not entirely: Pedagogies of empowerment and conscientization can lead people to create collective capital where there was none before and to establish – or take over – some of their own fields of application. However, to count on this – and perhaps even to preach it – would be hypocritical for those, like ourselves, close enough to the seats of power to lobby for new alliances between literacy and its fields of application and to work at hammering out policies that capitalize on literacy.

19 A central policy recommendation: Connect literacy with its socio-economic applications – both pedagogically and structurally Experiment, perfect, evaluate and then publicize much more broadly a variety of inter-sectoral alliances between literacy programs and other development sectors devoted to --  local capacity building,  the assumption of new managerial powers by local actors,  the transfer and accumulation of new resources at the field level; and,  as possible, the reinforcement of related – and democratically constituted -- civil society institutions.

20 A parting thought Sàls làgm koabgà ti kùri ké bake. A hundred slips will not prevent the turtle from getting to the water’s edge. Proverb Mooré / Burkina Faso For further information: Peter B. Easton 114H STB, College of Education Florida State University Tallahassee, FL USA Tel. (1) (850)


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