Functional Adult Literacy: “I Now Read, Speak Some French!”

Introduced as part of the EcoNorCam project located in and around Benue National Park in the North Region, an increasing number of illiterate women are now changing the narrative. By taking advantage of the opportunity.

“I didn’t know anything before. I could not speak nor write any French. Then FODER encouraged us to go for adult literacy classes, explaining that without being able to read and write, we will not manage our activities well. I took the challenge and enrolled last academic year. I did fairly well in Mathematics, but French has been my greatest challenge,” says Aissatou, almost 40. A mother of four.

Aissatou’s Defining Moment!
It was indeed a moment Aissatou felt most proud of herself! “I opted to attend literacy classes so as to open up my understanding of the world,” Aissatou tells Cameroon Tribune with a grin. Though I found dictation a little bit difficult,” she confesses. 

Feat Indeed!
Aisasatou’s “great” achievement could easily be read on her face on September 26, 2023. In her village, Dobga, in Tchollire Subdivision in Benue Division of the North Region. Aissatou had just performed the feat of writing and reading a two-paragraph welcome address. To a visiting delegation of Forêts et Développement Rural, FODER association on a monitoring and evaluation mission of the project, Ecosysteme du Nord Cameroun, EcoNorCam: Vers une approche intégrée du paysage.

Four Pilot Centres, To Begin With 
Only a few months back, Aissatou had no knowledge of French - spoken or written. Thus, the reason for her great excitement and joy. The functional adult literacy classes organized by FODER and the Ministry of Basic Education, MINEDUB under the EcoNorCam project began in January 2023 in four pilot centres in Benue Division. All centres are located around Benue National Park, the project area as part of the FODER-managed component of EcoNorCam. Classes held three times a week, each lasting two hours.

I Couldn’t Write My Name Before!
“When I began classes, I couldn’t write my name! But today, I am proud to say I am able not only to write my name, but to also speak some French!” said Siratou, the Secretary of Dobga farmers’ group assisted by FODER. 

First Time Ever In Dobga
“Last academic year, we had 28 learners - 27 women and a man. Of the number, five had never been to school. While others actually began elementary school, but dropped out in the early years. At the end, 16 sat the examination, with 14 passing - giving a percentage pass of 83.33 per cent. To my knowledge, it was the first time to organise adult literacy classes in Dobga village,” explained Vounssou Justin, a teacher with Government School, Dobga and teacher of Level 1 adult literacy classes in the same village. “It was a little bit difficult for learners at the beginning. But halfway through the academic year, we took note of the weaknesses and addressed them,” Vounssou assured.  

Selected As Community Health Volunteers  
“Out of the seven women who were in Level III, six were enrolled as Community Health Volunteers in Na’ari village,” Ngomna Martin, Head Teacher of Government School, Na’ari announced with a grin of fulfilment. “The women were selected because of their basic literacy ability. The knowledge learners acquired has also helped them in running their businesses. Adult literacy classes are important. If we keep up the momentum, the classes will help learners in different aspects of life. Literary classes have enabled learners to open up to the world. We are so grateful to EcoNorCam project and FODER for the initiative,” Ngomna said. 

In Collaboration With MINEDUB
“Last academic year we introduced adult literacy classes in four schools as part of capacity-building and training. This was at the request of female project beneficiaries. The programme is carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic Education. The adult literacy centres are in Na’ari in Lagdo Subdivision; Dobga and Banda in Tchollire Subdivision, and Mboukma in Rey Bouba Subdivision. Through the classes, we assist learners to read and write in order to better manage their groups, group resources and personal finances,” Bonné Guisatta, the Head of EcoNorCam project FODER’s component, disclosed.

70 Per cent Pass
“In the first year of the classes (2022-2023 academic year), we had an enrolment of 137 women and a man, giving a total of 138 learners. In the end-of-year examinations, learners scored about 70 per cent pass. We are preparing another academic year by October 10, 2023,” Guisatta told Cameroon Tribune.   

Big Progress Made                            
“Big progress has been made. In March 2023 when we last visited, functional adult literacy classes had begun only three months back. One of the constraints in the North Region, especially in the project zone, was the very high level of illiteracy amongst female project beneficiaries. This made it difficult for them to appropriate project practices,” said Laurence Wete Soh, the head of FODER monitoring and evaluation mission to EcoNorCam project.



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