Uganda has made remarkable progress in education and literacy over the years. Accordingly, adult literacy rate in Uganda currently states at 72%. This has been achieved through various primary and vocational education and adult literacy programmes geared towards ensuring all Ugandans are provided with learning opportunities. Despite these efforts, a sizeable proportion of our population are still non-literate. Adult illiteracy rate for population aged 10 years and above was 28 percent (male 23 percent and female 32 percent) in 2014. This shows that over 6.3 million women and men were illiterate. There were more non-literate population in rural areas (32 percent) than urban areas with 15 percent. In Otuke District, 72% of the adults are illiterate. In Okere village, up to 92% of the adult women cannot read and write. The situation is aggravated by limited skills to support livelihoods at household level.
In 1976, UNESCO said that "adult education denotes the entire body of organized educational processes, whatever the content, level and method, whether formal or otherwise, whether they prolong or replace the initial schools, colleges, and universities, as well as an apprenticeship, whereby persons regarded as adults by the societies to which they belong develop their abilities, enrich their knowledge, improve their technical or professional qualifications or turn them in a new direction and bring about improved changes in their attitudes or behavior in the twofold perspective of full personal development and participation in balanced and independent social, economic and cultural development."
In Uganda, the field is referred to as adult and community education, but elsewhere in the world, it is also known by a number of concepts, which include: out of school education (comprising both the non-formal and informal education), lifelong education, recurrent education, community education, social education and there are those countries who refer to it as education and lifelong learning. The field is considered important in nation building both in the developed and the developing world.
Adult education is indeed a catalyst for Uganda to achieve its development agenda. Adult education is an integral part of a holistic education system. Lifelong learning is recommended as it can lead to a learned society, that is able to lean, relearn and unlearn, thus leading to an enlightened citizenry and or populace, which of course understands individual and institutional growth and development through enhanced knowledge and skills obtained from its implementation in the society.
In Uganda, legally a person is termed to be an adult when he or she clocks the age of 18 years. Here at Okere City, we have majority of young and old people who are adults and lack the basic knowledge of effectively participating in their community. This is why the Aero-Kwan functional adult education program was started to address this vice in the community
At Aero Kwan functional adult education program, majority of learners are women who has embraced the learning program in their community. I have engaged with them for the few moments that have shared with the on why they participate in the program. It was a mixed feeling when I engaged them on reasons why they enrolled in the program.
Mr. Otim Geoffrey, one of the leaners in the program mentioned that the reason for his enrollment in the program is that he didn’t get chance to access formal school system during his childhood days. He mentioned that during his youth full times there were a lot of instability in greater North Otuke District in particular and so they were all in the IDP camps and running away from rebels. I didn’t get chance to access formal school system during my time as child and so Aero-kwan functional adult literacy program gives me a platform to access knowledge of reading and writing which can help me function well in my community. He also mentioned their home there were many children so the father could have the capacity to pay them all school fees and so he resorted to keeping their animals (cows) this shows you the community were Okere City project operates.
Another learner Mrs. Angom Hellen aged 49 from AkwalaKwala Village, Okere Parish had a short response when I engaged her on the reasons why she didn’t have access to school and what motivated her to join the functional adult literacy program here at Okere community development project. She mentioned these “ my parents didn’t send me to school because I was supposed to cook for my people at home” and for the reasons why she enrolled for the functional literacy program here at Okere Community development project was “to learn how to read and write so as to improve her business”
Mrs. Ajok Caroline,29 one of the learner mentioned that she was not taken to school by his father and so she stopped in primary three level of education back here in Okere City and so she had to get married of and left studies just like that. The functional adult literacy program here at Okere community development project gave her a chance to realize her dreams of getting education though in her old years.
Mrs. Adongo Lilly a leaner at the Okere City functional adult education center had so say the following “My father died when I was still young and I didn’t get access to education just like any normal child” she mentioned the reason why she enrolled in the program here as follows “I wanted to learn how to read and write an make basic calculation’s for my business “
Mr. Munu Samson, a renowned functional adult literacy instructor had to mention the following reasons as to why majority of people here had not got and accessed the basic education in their child hood days. He mentioned the following reasons “political instabilities in the greater north which disrupted the school system here those days for example the lord’s resistance movement armed insurgency which made people run in IDP camps in Lira and other safe places by then. The Karamojong cattle rustling among others. Also, he mentioned that distance of schools and its being few in the community made leaners not to access basic school in their time but thanks to government efforts there are now a number of schools here Adwari Sub County and Okere parish in particular were the current generation can have access to school. By then they had only one school called Aliwang Primary School and Adwari P7 School in the whole of Adwari Subcounty. Mr Munu also mentioned that other factors like poverty, hunger , early marriages and low levels of literacy among the populace who don’t value education contributed greatly to the low levels of literacy among people here at Adwari Sub county and Okere parish in particular.
From the above submission, this implies that the community is passionate about leaning and improving on their livelihood to really function well in their society and adult education bridges the gap of illiteracy which is a hindrance for development in our 21st century Uganda and world.
Indeed, with massive investment in adult education, more chances will be created for the vast majority of men and women in our society who missed a chance of accessing formal learning process in their community. As mentioned above, people have got challenges in accessing education but offering them a second chance of education, this people will access the knowledge and skills which will enable them function well in the knowledge based economy of 21st century. Unlike other adult education programs. We want Okere City to be a model functional adult education program for Otuke District, Uganda, Africa and World at large as we strive to achieve our goal of having a literate populace in Okere City.