Among the many of the programs Okere City, functional adult literacy is part of it. Aero-Kwan functional adult literacy class bring together 100 rural women in Okere to acquire relevant knowledge and skills through a functional adult literacy curriculum. The class is facilitated by Mr. Munu Samson, a renowned and experienced adult educator. Already, the project has started reigniting hope and giving rural women of Okere the opportunity to learn, relearn and unlearn to become more prepared in shaping a better future for themselves, families and community at large.
On the 20th Oct 2022, I had the special privilege of attending Aero-Kwan’s FAL session having joined Okere City as an intern. Having recently completed my bachelor’s degree in adult and community education from Kyambogo University recently, it was enthralling to experience a FAL class in practice at Okere City. Functional adult literacy class at Okere City normally starts at 2pm daytime and runs for 2 hours. On Saturday it was delayed bit since the facilitator had not arrived but learners had already assembled at the community ground waiting for the facilitator. Class stated at around 2:38 pm that day with about 20 participants in attendance. I immediately had to seek clarification and followed the learners in class for the session to start. I was introduced in the literacy class by Mr. Munu Samson the lead instructor of the functional adult literacy class and learners warmly welcomed me into their class. I had to introduce myself as a student who has been pursuing my bachelor’s degree of adult and community education at Kyambogo University in Kampala. I was welcomed and the chief executive officer, Mr. Ojok Okello joined us in the literacy class.
Learning proceeded on well, with correction of the previous numeracy of the functional adult literacy class. Learners were excited about their results and corrections were made. Since the class had begun late and a new facilitator was in it did not continue on with the days learning. Learners shared their experience in the previous trip they had to Kampala representing the Aero-Kwan members. Their experience was amazing and exciting. The learners wanted to learn English in their functional adult literacy class since they had a bad experience interacting with people while in Kampala. Another exciting experience about their trip to Kampala was crossing the road and asking for toilets. This was a nice but also a learning experience for them. The Chief executive officer gave a brief report on what they learners got from their trip to Kampala. He mentioned that they gave them (learners/participants) gift of one million shilling and a cell phone to communicate. He also told them that another trip to Kampala will shall be held in December 2022 where they shall be part of a theatrical production at the National Theatre in Kampala. The functional adult literacy instructor also said their will a trip to Bar-Alegi Farm to learn about modern agricultural practices.
I was given an opportunity to talk to the class and I advised that in literacy there are stages to follow before integrating English class into its component. We follow the UNESCO Literacy assessment and monitoring program scale (LAMP) scale. This scale is designed to provide adult literacy practitioners from with the information required to effectively plan and implement literacy programs. I thanked them and Mr. Ojok for this great initiative which is very organized and well-managed. I have never seen a literacy program organized like this in my entire life as a professional adult educator. Prayers were made and we went outside for music practice. After the practice, participants/learners converged at Guum's Kitchen and took tea and chapatti. They later on departed at will and some remained at the community center.
Here are some of my findings when I attended the Aero -Kwan FAL Class;
· The functional adult literacy instructor for the adult literacy class is good and has got vast experience in the field. I interacted with him after the literacy class and found out that he has experience in what he is doing. So by this I highly recommend him for the great job he’s doing.
· Mode of facilitation of the functional adult literacy class is participatory. Learners are actively involved in the classes and this is good for any literacy class world over. For functional adult literacy program to be sustainable, learners should be actively involved before, during and after the learning process. This promotes the ownership and love for the program hence ensuring its sustainability.
· Learners at Okere impressed me and I guess anyone who will ever visit us here. Learners were organized and in uniform. This shows the level of organization from the program implementers and even the leaners themselves. Everyone was on time and on their uniform except a few ones who personally I don’t know why they never had uniform on them. This shows the level of organization in this program unlike other similar programs like this that have visited.
· Documentation of attendance of learners by the program instructor is amazing. The instructor Mr. Munu Samson has a record for all those who have successfully attended the functional adult literacy class. This is so important has it helps keep the project in check and also helps to weed out unserious leaners from the functional adult literacy class. By documentation, it also helps in proper planning and assessment of learners in literacy class.
· The venue for the training is conducive and nice. In other literacy projects have visited as an adult educator, Okere City stands out. Venues or learning centers have visited overtime in different places across Uganda is not appealing but for, Okere City is just amazing. Learners sit in an organized as was the case with the Saturday class.
· Gender participation in the adult literacy class is worrying. Majority of the learners at the Aero-Kwan functional adult literacy class are women. This is worrying because illiteracy level cuts cross the society without caring whether you are a man or woman.by this we should find out ways to attract all genders in the programs that illiteracy is wiped out of Okere City.
· Age of the learners/ participants in the literacy class of Aero-Kwan is also worrying. Yes, the learners/participants in the class tend to be old people of 40 and above and few representation of the youth. According to the constitution of Uganda, an adult is a person above 18 years of age and majority of them I normally see them in the village square. We should find out a way of attracting them to the literacy program and help equip them with skills that will help wipe illiteracy and poverty in Okere City.
· Mode of assessment is okay but we should make it more practical. For example, we know adults have past experiences in the formal school system were assessments are exam based. This embarrasses them when they fail in adult classes and let some drop out again from this non formal education program which is very good for social transformation.
What are some of the opportunities for the success of the Aero-Kwan FAL Class?
· There is a motivated cadre of vibrant women interested in the program. They come on time as witnessed on Saturday and this shows the level of commitment they have for leaning and improving their levels of literacy in the community.
· There is also a good and serene environment around the Okere city which makes learning more attractive and conducive for all. At Okere City, there is a well-organized community learning center which is good in the process of facilitating programs for this adult class. Learners need to be taken back to their previous learning center and make it permanent for them unlike the formal classes for young children which I don’t recommend. Adult learners are those people with previous experience of learning who might have had bad experience in learning previously. They should be left to study in a free environment that enables them to interact freely. Other people might fear participating in those centers which have a setting for a formal class. Some can decide to sit behind and not talk and this is bad for the sustainability of any literacy class.
· Learners/participants are motivated by giving them tea after class. This motivates them to actively participate and come back again for the next literacy class. By this, program implementers (Okere city) recognize efforts by this adults in the community. Since adult learners want recognition, this encourages them to continuously attend this classes in the community.
Recommendations for the success of the program.
The followings are the recommendations I will make for the constant improvement of the Aero-Kwan functional adult literacy class;
· A more comprehensive curriculum should be designed for more systematic and organized implementation and facilitation of the literacy class at Aero-Kwan functional adult literacy program classes.
· Documentation and a more robust system needs to be designed to keep records of progress of leaning and number of learners. We should be able to migrate from paper based kind of record keeping to a more a digital one. I know all this is possible with the input of all us involved in the program.
· Gender disparity in the literacy class needs to be addressed. I can help design a needs assessment study to find out why men are not interested in the literacy project yet there is high level of literacy in the community. This will help improve on areas of weakness
· Literacy classes need to be taken back to the previous venue where it used to be conducted from. It’s the most recommended and innovative venue for any literacy program unlike the formal school classroom where it was organized last Saturday.
· In the near future, literacy class needs to be integrated with livelihoods and business skills, and social skills growth and prosperity of our community.
The program was successful and since it’s my first time attending the Aero-Kwan literacy class, I anticipate a bright future and success for this program and the entire Okere City. I still have a lot to learn and make more professional recommendations in near future.
This report has been compiled by Mr. Olila Steven, a volunteer facilitator and a professional adult educator trained at Kyambogo University.