John Oxenham / Abdoul Hamid Diallo / Anne Ruhweza Katahoire / Anna Petkova-Mwangi / Oumar Sall

The IIZ/DVV was invited by the World Bank to undertake a document study on two (2) strategies to promote literacy and training for livelihood skills:

  • Literacy instruction incorporating livelihood skills,
  • Livelihood skills training incorporating literacy instruction.

In other words, one of these strategies is to use literacy programmes to help learners to make their livelihood skills more productive.

The other strategy is to make use of vocational training programmes - agricultural extension, micro enterprises - by incorporating relevant aspects of reading, writing and mathematics.

The research team, headed by Dr John Oxenham, consultant in chief, examined four (4) African countries in detail, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal and Guinea, and sifted the documentation held by a number of bilateral and multilateral organizations.

Our aim was to assess whether this type of incorporation can:

  • increase the effectiveness of programmes by improving students’ loyalty and achievements, and
  • encourage use of the skills acquired both to raise the productivity of their livelihood skills and to open up access to wider information so as to improve their well-being.

This invitation grew out of the World Bank evaluation of technical and vocational education policy in Africa. The Bank wished to look at the issue from the perspective of Education for All and lifelong learning, rather than solely that of schools, colleges, technical institutes and universities.

The complete report is being published in the Human Development Working Papers Series by the Africa Region of the World Bank. It can be requested at afrhdseries@worldbank.org. It will also be available electronically from the World Bank. In the Bank’s programme of work the study is one of a series of studies in the Africa Region on how best to support countries that wish to invest in vocational skills develop­ment. It also supplements earlier studies published recently on Adult Basic Education. More information on these studies is found at the Bank’s Adult Outreach Education website www1.worldbank.org/education/adultoutreach/publication.htm. The financial contribution of the Norwegian Education Trust Fund for Africa to these studies is much ­appreciated. Because of the size of the bibliography and the large number of references, we have only listed those relevant to the passages which we have published.

Skills and Literacy Training for Better Livelihoods

A Review of Approaches and Experiences

Foreword

In April 2000, the delegates at the World Education Forum in Senegal collectively drew up the Dakar Framework for Action, in which they committed themselves to do everything possible to

  • achieve a 50 percent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults
  • improve and ensure excellence in all aspects of the quality of education, so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.

The World Bank was one of the key players in the preparation and implementation of the Forum, along with UNESCO, UNICEF and the ILO, among other concerned UN organizations. Our Institute was involved in the preparatory process in Germany and participated in Dakar as one of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in education and development. For us, this marked another milestone in our almost four decades of continuous support for adult literacy with partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

When the Human Development Sector of the Africa Region of the World Bank asked whether we would be interested in managing a study of literacy and livelihoods, we could not but immediately agree on both the importance of the research and our readiness to support it. We considered it a great opportunity to inject fresh information and ideas into the discussion of approaches to improving literacy interventions in practice and theory, whether from our own many projects and publications or from the programs and documents of others. Over the years, our partners have again and again debated with us questions such as “Does literacy come first and development follow?” or “How much literacy is needed as a prerequisite to development?” or “How can both be integrated?” The issue of the relationship between literacy, skills training and livelihoods widens this quest for improved developmental outcomes. We think that the title “Strengthening Livelihoods with Literacy” adequately reflects the findings of the study. It is at the same time a programmatic title for future literacy endeavours by governments, NGOs, co-operating agencies, and the participants themselves.

It is our feeling that the study team has done an excellent job. At the beginning of the study, a workshop including the four authors of the country cases, the lead researcher and members of our staff, created a clear common understanding of the questions and a plan of work. At another workshop at the end, the five draft reports were reviewed and a set of common conclusions was formulated. What you have in front of you is the team’s product.

We would like to thank the study team and all those who supported their work. There were indeed many! We see the study as an important contribution to fulfilling our commitment to literacy learners and their providers, and to high quality education for all.

Prof.(H) Dr. Heribert Hinzen
Director, IIZ/DVV

Henner Hildebrand
Task Manager, IIZ/DVV

 

Acknowledgements

The first acknowledgements must go to the Africa Region of the World Bank and to the Government of Norway. By initiating and financing this study, they are helping to enrich a field that has not generated the attention and high quality evaluation and research that the rhetoric of poverty reduction, education for all, and lifelong education might have led the world to expect. The next salute goes to Dr. Josef Mueller, formerly of the German Foundation for International Development, now an independent consultant, for his Trojan work in collecting and annotating materials from a number of organizations in Germany and elsewhere.

The study itself depended to a large extent on documents that are not in the public domain. Most of them had to be identified, located, and retrieved from the files and archives of many organizations in many countries. That meant that many people had to make the time and take the trouble to suggest what work might repay attention, what documentation might be available, and where it might be found. Many also assisted in obtaining the documents, although laying hands on them was not always easy or always successful. The study team is heavily indebted to them all in the four countries of intensive study, Guinea, Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda, and in the headquarters of many bilateral, multilateral, and non-governmental agencies in Europe and North America. The full list of them is lengthy. Here, only the names of their organizations will appear.

The study is indebted also to 13 friends who, despite heavy work programs of their own, troubled to comment rapidly and extensively on the first draft of this paper: Terry Allsop, Julia Betts, Dipta Bhog, Harbans Bhola, Michael Brophy, John Comings, Pat Davis, Heribert Hinzen, Richard Johanson, Jon Lauglo, Josef Mueller, Helen Sherpa and Chij Shrestha. We hope that they judge their advice has been satisfactorily taken in this revised text.

The study team expresses its deep gratitude to all its helpers and supporters and hopes that this product will help them feel that their time and effort were well spent. All responsibility for any misreporting, misunderstanding or misinterpretation that appears in the report lies with the team...

1 Executive summary

From the perspective of vocational education within the purview of lifelong education for all, this report aims to use available documentary accounts to compare and assess the effectiveness of two types of education and training programs for poor adults: (a) programs that have attempted to incorporate training for livelihood skills into mainly literacy instruction, and (b) programs that have incorporated literacy instruction into training for mainly livelihood skills. The comparison should help answer four questions about such efforts:

  1. What approaches have been used?
  2. What are the documented outcomes and impacts of these approaches?
  3. What are the lessons regarding management, implementation, and resource requirements?
  4. What approaches are likely to be most effective under conditions prevailing in Sub-Saharan Africa, and what are the pitfalls to avoid?

Sources of Information

Because there is little published literature on the four questions, this report has had to rely largely on documentation internal to many organizations located in four countries of Africa, as well as in Western Europe and North America. However, in Guinea, Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda, brief field observations and interviews with interested parties have supplemented the documentation.

Much of the helpful documentation came from organizations that are in principle more concerned with employment and livelihoods than with education, but that find training in literacy and numeracy to be essential for their own purposes. Examples are FAO, IFAD, ILO and nongovern­mental organizations (NGOs) that strive for holistic development. Unfortunately, we must emphasize that the nature of the available ­evidence makes the conclusions and recommendations of the study only tentative. They are more in the nature of reasonable hypotheses than incontrovertible facts.

Also, it is the case that the documentation did not yield satisfactory responses to Question 3 on management, implementation, and resource requirements. Neither did it further any discussion of the crucial issues of organizational and institutional development. The report shows that, without the construction of effective organizations and sound institutional norms, very poor people will not be enabled to use literacy to make their livelihoods more productive.

Approach to Study

The study’s basic task was to examine two broad approaches to combining livelihood training with literacy instruction. One approach is to enrich a livelihood-led program with components in calculating, writing, and reading. The other is to enrich a literacy-led program with training for one or more livelihoods. Within these two approaches, a framework developed by Rogers (1997) that distinguishes five sub-categories, proved useful to the study. They are:

  1. Literacy as a prerequisite or in preparation for training in livelihood or income-generation activities. That is, training in a livelihood is the longer term aim, but people are encouraged not to start training in a livelihood, until they have first mastered reading, writing, and calculating sufficiently to cope with the livelihood’s operating and development requirements. There is a planned progression between the two.
  2. Literacy followed by separate livelihood or income-generation activities. Here, learning literacy is regarded as a self-standing and worthwhile aim in itself and is undertaken first. Thereafter, training is offered in either livelihoods or some form of income-generating activity. There are no systematic connections between the two components.
  3. Livelihood training or income-generation activities leading to literacy. In this sub-category, groups start out learning to develop a business but come to recognize that their progress will be frustrated, unless they learn to calculate more comprehensively, record their incomes and outgoings and read their records. The content of the literacy and numeracy grows out of the livelihood and income­generation.
  4. Livelihood and income-generation activities and literacy integrated. In this sub-category, training in a livelihood and instruction in literacy and numeracy begin simultaneously, often with the content of the literacy derived from or influenced by the livelihood.
  5. Literacy and livelihood and income-generation activities taking place in parallel but separately. Programs in this sub-category recognize the importance of both components, start both simultaneously, but omit to develop any systematic connections between them.

The first two sub-categories fall within literacy-led programs, the third and fourth fall within livelihood-led programs, while the type of programs of the fifth sub-category would depend on their origins and emphasis.

Findings in Summary

The report yielded 17 findings.

  1. In all the countries studied, the diversity of possibilities for improving established livelihoods and developing new ones appears so wide as to demand extreme flexibility, imagination, and resourcefulness.
  2. All the programs examined dealt with very poor people, mostly rural and mostly women.
  3. Examples of effective efforts were found in each of the five program sub-categories. Success in both sets of immediate objectives is likely if two conditions are satisfied: first, the program is well run with competent, reliable, and adequately supported instructors and, second, the program is well adapted to the interests and conditions of its participants. Data were not available on the impacts of livelihood training on production, productivity, and standards of living. However, there was virtual unanimity in both individual and focus group discussions that people who had completed literacy courses tended to be more confident and more willing to take initiatives in developing their livelihoods or in taking an active interest in the operations of their cooperatives. Claims by successful learners that they were now following more productive agricultural or livestock practices were common, as were claims that people felt they could no longer be easily cheated, when they bought inputs or sold produce. These psychosocial aspects are not normally considered in designing vocational education policies. Nonetheless, as they do impinge on the productivity of current livelihoods and on the willingness to seek opportunities to develop new livelihoods, they should be taken into account as desirable and likely effects of literacy training.
  4. Education and training programs for very poor adults need to offer very clear, concrete and immediate reasons to justify enrolment and ensure perseverance.
  5. Programs that start from livelihood skills seem to stand a stronger chance of success. They can, after all, demonstrate an immediate reason for learning.
  6. Organizations that are more concerned with livelihoods and ­other aspects of development seem to be better at designing and delivering effective combinations of livelihoods and literacy than organizations that are more focused on education. Projects run by NGOs that integrate development and literacy appear most effective. The implication is that policy for vocational/livelihood education with literacy should consider operating through agencies, both governmental and non-governmental, that work with people in their actual livelihoods and employment.
  7. NGOs seem to be more flexible than governmental agencies in responding to local and changing needs. Policy-makers for vocational/livelihood education should consider both (a) stronger alliances with NGOs and (b) forms of governmental organization that would allow local offices the kind of wide but accountable discretion that would enable them to develop the required flexibility.
  8. Deriving literacy/numeracy content from livelihood skills and integrating it with the livelihood training from the very start seems more promising than either running the two components in parallel with each other or using standard literacy materials to prepare people to train for livelihoods.
  9. Livelihood-plus-literacy/numeracy programs can greatly improve their chances of success, if they incorporate training in savings, credit, and business management, along with actual access to credit.
  10. Chances of success are even greater in a program that works with established groups of people who share a common purpose, rather than with individual applicants. In the absence of such groups, it would probably still be better to take the time to identify promising common purposes and to work on forming new purpose-driven groups than to resign the program to unconnected individuals.
  11. Early evaluations of the Somaliland Education Initiative for Girls and Young Men (SEIGYM) use of vouchers to buy their training are very favorable. Further observation of the initiative seems desirable, particularly regarding its suitability for established groups.
  12. Experience seems to have produced a strengthening consensus that programs that are well negotiated with their prospective learners in association with local authorities and leaders are likely to be more effective than programs that are simply put on offer.
  13. While differing levels of proficiency in different livelihoods require different periods of learning, the minimum period needed by a really illiterate person with normal learning abilities to attain a degree of literacy and numeracy sufficient to support advancement in a livelihood seems to be some 360 hours of instruction and practice.
  14. The broad experience of income-generating projects suggests that arranging for both livelihood specialists and literacy instructors is more prudent than relying on literacy instructors to undertake livelihood instruction or income-generating activities in addition to teaching literacy and numeracy. The broad trend appears to be to treat literacy instructors on a similar basis to livelihood specialists and to pay them for their efforts.
  15. On the important issue of financial resources, data on costs were largely absent, so that the study can offer no guidance on the issue. The only observations possible are that (a) the costs of programs that combine livelihood, business, and literacy skills are likely to be higher than those of simple literacy programs; and (b) even so, the costs would not be inordinate.
  16. To achieve financial sustainability, poor countries would need an alliance of government, non-governmental and community organizations, and people of goodwill and energy to set up (a) a mechanism to mobilize local voluntary supplements to fiscal provisions, (b) long-term consortiums with external donors, and (c) support from international lenders.
  17. Going to scale would require capacity-building, decentralization, gradualism and underpinning by local infrastructure, natural and other resources, norms, and institutions.

Recommendations in Summary

Overall, the evidence suggests that it would be worthwhile for vo­cational or livelihood education policy-makers to develop livelihood training with literacy/numeracy instruction for very poor, non-literate people, who tend to be mostly women, and, in Sub-Saharan Africa, mostly rural. The ten recommendations below give guidance on how this could be done. Justifications and further discussion are given in Chapter 8.

  1. Vocational education policy should provide for assessments of what would be needed in particular localities to ensure an environment that would enable training in particular livelihoods actually to result in higher productivity, incomes and well-being.
  2. Vocational education policy should pursue a strategy of decentralization and capacity-nurturing that will permit resourceful responses to local actual and potential patterns of livelihood.
  3. Vocational education policy should provide for courses that combine savings and credit training with negotiated livelihood content and literacy/numeracy content derived from, but not limited to, the vocabulary of the livelihood. As a tool to strengthen the negotiating power of prospective learners, the experience of SEIGYM (the Somaliland Education Initiative for Girls and Young Men) warrants monitoring.
  4. The fourth recommendation is twofold. First, to ensure that the “average” adult learner masters literacy and numeracy well enough to use them in support and development of a livelihood, the literacy component of a livelihood course should offer at least 360 hours of instruction and practice (the livelihood and business components will of course require additional appropriate time). Second, to help optimize perseverance, completion, and retention of learning, the course should be offered in a single session or term, if at all practicable.
  5. The fifth recommendation is again twofold. First, vocational education policy should provide for two cadres of instructors - livelihood instructors and literacy instructors. While neither should be a permanent cadre, their patterns of recruitment, training and support can differ from each other. Second, both cadres should be remunerated for the instruction they give.
  6. Vocational education policy for non-literate poor adults should promote active, participatory, and interactive forms of instruction and learning in both livelihood and literacy components of training.
  7. Vocational education policy-makers should support further research on the issue of costs.
  8. Countries should form local alliances of government, non-governmental and community agencies and energetic people of good will to (a) raise local fiscal and voluntary financing, (b) form appropriate consortiums with external donors and (c) attract resources from international lenders.
  9. Strategies of capacity-building, decentralization and gradualism should govern the process of going to scale, with due attention to local infrastructure, natural and other resources, norms, and institutions.
  10. Any review of vocational educational policy should exert itself to identify, locate, and capitalize on the empirical experience and expertise that those organizations have accumulated, and make it more readily accessible than this study has found it.

2 Prologue

Before discussing the main study, a simple background note is desirable to clarify three points: the current linking of livelihoods with literacy, what is meant by livelihoods, and what is meant by literacy.

Livelihoods and Literacy

This section offers a historical or evolutionary perspective on the relationships between livelihoods and literacy. Adult educators have accepted for at least the past half century that the skills of literacy are not ends in themselves but need to serve some purpose and practice that is important to their users. The attempts to tie them closely to and even derive them from livelihoods began at least three decades ago with ­UNESCO’s pioneering attempt to integrate literacy and livelihoods in its Experimental World Literacy Programme, after the Teheran Conference in 1965. That is when the term “functional literacy” came into currency. So successful was the idea of such integration, that, even with the rise and rapid spread of Paolo Freire’s “conscientization” a few years later, it would be difficult to locate a contemporary or recent literacy course that did not claim to be functional, even if it did not claim to prepare its participants for a livelihood. In Kenya (Mwangi 2001) as early as 1969, literacy instructors were expected to assist their classes set up income-generating projects and to invite technical officers in to help deepen knowledge, understanding, and skills. In Guinea, livelihoods and literacy are now so closely entwined that it is no longer realistic to speak of two approaches there (Diallo 2001). Uganda’s national program is known simply as FAL, Functional Adult Literacy Program, while Ghana’s is the Literacy and Functional Skills Program.

For their part, vocational educators have long accepted that, without a sufficient mastery of reading, writing, and calculation, learners cannot take more than limited advantage of possibilities to enhance their knowledge, skills, and capacities. For example, FAO (1980) had this to say: “Thus, the concept that the stepping up of farm production by new technology must have training and literacy as part and parcel of the development process, and conversely, that training and literacy as an isolated process are of little avail in a developing society, is now well established.” More recently, ILO, working in Nigeria on income-generating activities for women in health development, reported, “functional literacy should be included... to increase the impact of training in new skills and technologies” (p. iii) and “In parallel... training in record/book-keeping, accounting, costing, pricing ...” (p. 5) (ILO 1994 [B]). Similarly, a multi-country study on the benefits of training for women observed: “While many of the women showed a great capacity for mental calculations and some an astute business sense, they remain relatively power­less in the world of business if they have no written records” (Leach et al., 2000, p.109).

From a somewhat wider perspective, some quotes from Easton (1998) are pertinent and reinforcing:

“Without introducing the technology of writing and effective literacy - in whatever language or script it may be, and acquired by any available type of education - training and assumption of new development functions both tend to remain stuck at the most rudimentary level of technical skill and the most incomplete forms of participation” (p. xix). “The training necessary to support self-governance initiatives is not, of course, limited to literacy instruction - far from it. But if the ‘tool of writing’ constitutes a threshold of effectiveness in the management of local institutions, mastery of this code is equally important as a means of magnifying the scope and the impact of the training” (p. xxiii).

In a balanced review of educational research in West and Central Africa, Maclure (1997, pp. 86-87) points, on the one hand, to the evidence that nonformal literacy training is strongly linked to improvements in several domains, including agricultural production and other revenue-generating skills, as well as enhanced managerial skills among members of agricultural cooperatives. On the other hand, he notes the frequency with which literacy and other training for poor, unschooled adults disappoint their sponsors and beneficiaries through poor implementation.

What has prompted the current study is the need to assess what seem to be the most effective strategies and methods for ensuring that the skills of literacy and numeracy do support the struggles of the very poor to develop livelihoods sufficient to lift themselves out of poverty.

Defining Livelihoods and Income-generating Activities

Livelihood: Because this report is contributing in the first instance to a review of vocational and technical education, it treats the term “livelihood” in its traditional, restricted sense of simply making a living, rather than in the recently expanded senses initiated by researchers at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex1, and adapted by some bilateral and multilateral agencies and international non-governmental organizations. More specifically, “livelihood“ in this report restricts itself to the knowledge, skills, and methods used to produce or obtain the food, water, clothing and shelter necessary for survival and well-being, whether the economy is subsistence, monetized, or a mixture of both. “Livelihood“ seems more appropriate than either “employment“ or “income-generating activities“, because the majority of people in Africa who participate in programs with literacy components derive their living mainly from subsistence agriculture, and often from the exchange of goods and services, rather than from earning wages or salaries. A livelihood can include more than one set of knowledge, skills, and methods. For instance, in an agrarian economy, a woman may earn her family’s livelihood by combining subsistence agriculture and horticulture on a small plot of land with remunerated labor on a neighbor’s land and with selling some of her produce as processed food in a local market.

Income-generating activities: Because most economies are now monetized, the terms “income-generating activities” and “income-generating projects” occur frequently in discussions of literacy projects and programs. They are not synonymous with “livelihood”, for the available literature suggests that they often - but do not always - generate only small incomes to supplement main livelihoods. Further, the literature gives the impression that, in most instances, income-generating activities do not involve much systematic training, in ways that courses of vocational and technical education would. Instead, a learning group usually seems to undertake an activity that is common, well known and established in the neighbourhood and for which little additional instruction is given.

In the main, then, this report will prefer the term “livelihood” rather than “income-generating activities”. A report on a project in Egypt makes this important distinction:

“Quite often the needs assessment identified the need for income-generation opportunities of which vocational training might be a part... An additional challenge is not to confuse income-generation with vocational training. Both are often important, but people developing vocational skills often need further support (such as with credit schemes and marketing) to be able to generate income” (UKDFID 1999[b] para. 8.4.3 and 8.4.8).

In short, livelihoods and livelihood/occupational training are not quite synonymous with income-generating activities, even if the latter do require some training.

Clarifying Literacy and Numeracy

At the most basic level, literacy entails simply the skills of (a) recording information of some kind in some code understood by the person making the record and possibly by other persons in some more or less permanent form and (b) decoding the information so recorded. That is the essence of writing and reading. Similarly, numeracy is the skill of using and recording numbers and numerical operations for a variety of purposes. During the past 5,000 years or so, the human race has developed these skills into systems that reach far beyond the simple recording of information. The systems now range from personal signatures through to the mazes of legal documents and higher mathematics. In this, they entail ranges of skills, usages, customs, and conventions in both recording and decoding information, which are conditioned by the particular contexts where they occur. These ranges and varieties have made defining literacy and numeracy in operational terms more than just difficult: UNESCO has been struggling with the task for half a century and has still not been able to bring its member states to a consensus. Each member operates its own definition for its own purposes.

The attainment of virtually universal primary schooling in the industrialized countries initially led to defining permanent or sufficient literacy operationally as the equivalent of four years of primary schooling. The tendency to use schooling as the standard against which to measure attainments in literacy persisted for some while, despite its increasing inadequacy in the face of shifting average attainments at different levels of schooling in different countries.

In the light of the flux and because it examines situations in a variety of countries and cultures, this study uses no definition of literacy or numeracy. It simply uses the words in whatever sense was used by the program under study. However, as will be seen in Chapter 7 under “Synthesis of findings from the two strategies,” the study does attempt to estimate the minimum amount of instruction and practice a person needs to acquire sufficient skill in writing, reading, and calculating to be able to go on to obtaining and exchanging new and possibly complex information to improve the productivity of her or his livelihood. The discussion makes it clear that no hard and fast rule can be laid down. All that is offered is what might be a safe minimum.

3 Objectives of the Study

According to this study’s terms of reference, its main objective is “to derive lessons from programs that have included livelihood skills as part of literacy education and programs that have included literacy skills as part of livelihood training. The final report should provide answers to the following questions:

  • What approaches have been used?
  • What are the documented outcomes and impacts of these approaches?
  • What are the lessons regarding management, implementation and resource requirements?
  • What approaches are likely to be most effective under conditions prevailing in sub-Saharan Africa, and what are the pitfalls to avoid?”

The fourth question makes clear that the study aims to contribute to policy and practice mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa. ...

7 Synthesis of Findings from the Two Strategies

It is important to remember that the evidence reviewed is not particularly strong, so any inferences necessarily lack a solid empirical base and analytical rigor. Like the “Critical Assessment of the Experimental World Literacy Programme,” this study was compelled to offer its findings more as plausible hypotheses than as proven facts. That said, this section broadly aims to provide more grist for the debate on how best to operationalise the concept of lifelong education within a frame of education for all, where “all” includes unschooled and non-literate adults.

  1. Conditions of effectiveness - The first observation is obvious and almost banal: examples from all five sub-categories of program signal that, whether a program starts from literacy/numeracy and includes some livelihood training, or starts with livelihood objectives and includes literacy/numeracy, it is likely to be successful in both sets of its immediate objectives if it is well adapted to the interests and conditions of its participants and - equally important - well run. “Quality of the teaching - this was a major factor for the success of a class” (Crapper et al. 1996, p. 79). That said, the cases of ADRA in Uganda and SODEFITEX in Senegal warn that even the best-run programs will suffer some inefficiency in terms of irregular attendance and dropout. Further, the longer-run outcomes will not always fulfil all the hopes of the planners and implementers, as shown by the following report on what had been judged a successful project: From Thailand: “The Local Industrial and Development Center trained 651 villagers in marketing, cost analysis, packaging, export preparation. But the evaluation of 96 graduates found only 27% actually using skills for business, 17% for household purposes, 56% not using the skills at all” (Itty 1991, p. 48). Concordant with the Thai experience are the findings of the two IIEP studies of 1989 and 1990 in Kenya and Tanzania and the 1999 evaluation in Uganda (Carron et al. 1989, Carr-Hill 1991, Okech et al., 2000). All showed that the knowledge learned by many participants had not changed their attitudes and that even changes in attitude had not necessarily led to changes in behavior. This merely repeats the earlier warning not to place too heavy a burden of expectations on education and training programs.2
  2. Motivation - The second observation, again almost banal, is that education and training programs for very poor adults would be wise to offer very clear, concrete, and immediate reasons3 to justify enrollment and ensure perseverance, as the following, very typical quote from Ghana confirms: “We have also seen how important incentives and income-generation activities are for both learners, facilitators and the community as a whole to embrace the program” (Adu-Gyamfi et al. 1996). A more recent experience in Egypt offers further confirmation in its evaluation report: “Many illiterate people do not attend literacy classes because they have work to do. The ALTP (Adult Literacy Training Project) team together with the LWGs (Literacy Working Groups) in the villages linked literacy activities to raising the income of the students. New income-generating projects in the villages help attract more students to literacy and link it to their everyday activities. ALTP recognised that literacy, or lack of literacy, is only a part of people’s ­reality and that the reasons why people have not previously developed literacy skills are a complex interweaving of lack of educational opportunity, lack of exposure, gender, levels of poverty, culture, lack of self-confidence etc. To help develop literacy skills, particularly of those in poorest sectors of society, and particularly women in this group requires more than the establishing of classes and waiting for people to come. It requires an holistic approach to awareness raising and helping people manage the other challenges in their lives (UKDFID 1999, chapter 8, section 4.1).
  3. Leading from livelihoods - This observation, which follows reasonably from the second, is that programs that start from livelihood skills seem to stand a stronger chance of success. They can demonstrate an immediate reason for learning. The earlier observations from the western province of Kenya (see Chapter 4, Scope and Methods of the Study) are supported from other countries, as well as from other provinces of Kenya. From Bangladesh: “... interest in literacy by the rural people was almost nil” (BNPS 1997, p.30), while Fiedrich (2001) writes of Senegal, “I have only seen one program, a few years back, of Plan International in Thies, Senegal, where vocational training (tailoring for women) was integrated with literacy. My impression from a two day visit was that the literacy training here was accepted as a hoop that women and girls felt they had to jump through so as to get to the real goodies.” In harmony with this observation, the present study in Senegal concluded: “Incorporating elements of livelihood training undeniably has the effect of raising the motivation of the learners and ensuring their faithful attendance at the literacy course. It gives a more utilitarian content to the business of training adults.” Similarly, the present Kenya study speculates: “Part of the success of the REFLECT circles in Kibwezi is attributable to the support Action Aid Kenya accords the circles for income-generating projects. This includes irrigated horticultural production, tree nurseries, goat rearing, poultry keeping and basket weaving. These projects have tended to provide a critical binding action for the groups and their participation in the literacy program is noted to be high. This has also significantly improved the men’s participation rate in the literacy centres” (Mwangi 2001). Again, the same study notes that 11 of 15 focus discussion groups linked literacy with starting and managing small businesses and farming. “Literacy would help them keep proper records, calculate profits and use different measures correctly. One group observed that, if learners were taking practical subjects like animal husbandry, book keeping and child care, they would be more motivated to enrol.” At the risk of belaboring the point, a final quote from the Kenya study is pertinent: “Fourteen out of 16 dropout respondents said that they would be willing to go back to the literacy class, if such [income-generating] ­projects were started.”
  4. The fourth observation ties in with the idea of “livelihood leading”: Organizations that are more concerned with livelihoods and other aspects of development seem to be better at designing and delivering effective combinations of livelihoods and literacy than organizations that are morefocused on education. FAO, IFAD, and ILO are examples among the multilateral organizations, while for most NGOs, literacy and numeracy are only means to larger ends. As the Guinea study notes, NGO-run projects that integrate development and literacy achieve the most effective, really functional literacy, based as they are on the problems and needs of the target groups. They have all begun by undertaking a socio-economic survey of the localities where they start work, and they often address organized groups in their localities. This observation implies that policy-makers for vocational/livelihood education with literacy should consider operating through agencies, both governmental and non-governmental, that work with people in their actual livelihoods and employment, rather than through centers that purport to train for, but tend to be detached from, “the real world”.
  5. Flexibility - In all the countries studied, the diversity of possibilities for improving established livelihoods and developing new ones appears so wide as to demand extreme flexibility, imagination, and resourcefulness. NGOs seem to have more flexibility than government agencies to respond to local and changing needs. Developers of national policy for vocational/livelihood education should emphatically consider stronger - but not dominating or crippling - alliances with NGOs. At the same time, they should explore forms of government organization that would allow local offices the kind of wide, but accountable, discretion which would enable them to develop the required flexibility.

    Further, two facts suggest that even the private sector might be induced to offer livelihood and literacy training for poor people in certain contexts. First, patterns of apprenticeship exist in a number of African countries, particularly in the west of the continent. If master craftsmen provide training in return for modest fees and labor, they may be open to paid partnerships with literacy instructors. Second, private training institutes are emerging in a range of crafts and skills, as evidenced by the “professionalizing” literacy centers in Guinea. Arrangements could be developed to suit the interests of both instructors and learners. What the specific possibilities might be in operational terms will of course depend on specific ­localities and cultures.
  6. Derivative literacy - The experiences of ACOPAM and ­SODEFITEX, along with a provisional comparison between WEP/N and WEEL in Nepal, hint that deriving literacy/numeracy content from the livelihood skills in view and integrating it with the livelihood training from the very start seem more promising than either running the two components in parallel or using standard literacy materials to prepare people to train for livelihoods.4 This suggestion does not discount the experiences of the Rukungiri Women, ADRA, Saptagram, RDRS, and the Notre Dame Foundation, which all use literacy primers unrelated to livelihood content; it merely points to a possible further advantage in engaging the learners’ perseverance.
  7. Savings and credit - Livelihood-plus-literacy/numeracy programs can substantially reinforce their chances of success if they can start from or at least incorporate training in savings, credit, and business management, along with actual access to credit. Although ADRA and SODEFITEX provide the credit, WEP/N, WEEL, and other organizations demonstrate that it can be created among the very poor themselves, without the agency of a micro-finance institution.
  8. Group approaches and negotiation - Again drawing on the experience of ADRA, ACOPAM, WEP/N, and WEEL, chances of success are also heightened by working with established groups of people who share a common purpose, rather than with individual applicants. In the absence of such groups, it would probably still be better to spend time identifying promising common purposes and to work on forming new purpose-driven groups than to carry out the program with unconnected individuals.

    Experience seems to have produced a strengthening consensus that programs that are well negotiated with their prospective learners in association with local authorities and leaders, are likely to be more effective than programs that are simply put on offer. Further, there is a longstanding consensus that teaching methods that encourage activity and interaction between participants and their instructor are more effective than those that leave the instructor with most of the action. However, it is important to acknowledge observations that implementing the active methods is often beyond the competence and inclination of the instructors, and quite often it is not to the taste of the learners themselves. Despite such non-modern attitudes and practices, appreciable learning can and often does occur.
  9. Vouchers - There are very favorable early evaluations of the initiative by the Somaliland Education Initiative for Girls and Young Men to use vouchers as a means to give very poor people more power to negotiate what they learn and with whom they learn (Tomlinson, 2001). That suggests the project merits further observation, particularly regarding its suitability for already established groups.
  10. Time on task - The projects examined offer no decisive answer to how much time is needed to enable a person to become permanently or sustainably literate. Recall that the Mahila Samakhya experience found that 180 hours of tuition, even of intensive instruction, led only to fragile literacy skills. ADRA seems to be satisfied with 250 to 300 hours, whereas SODEFITEX arranges for 400 hours. To help clarify the issue, Medel-Añonuevo looked at four models of literacy and livelihood programs in Nepal:

    Model 1 offered a 12-month literacy course, followed by a 3-month vocational course and the establishment of a community reading centre.

    Model 2 offered an 18-month course in 3 phases: first, a 9-month basic literacy and numeracy course, then, a 6-month course learning the livelihood skills (the functional phase), and finally, a 3-month course in actually generating and managing income.

    Model 3 offered simply a 6-month basic literacy course, then encouraged its learners to seek livelihood training from other sources.

    Model 4, which was most favoured by practitioners, started with women’s saving and credit groups, encouraged the ­development of income-generating activities, offered a 6-month basic literacy course, followed by either 3 months’ follow-up in both literacy and income-generation, or 6 months of more advanced training (1996, p. 51). The overall perceptions were that six months are insufficient for most men and women to develop satisfactory skills in reading, writing and calculating and that the need to link these skills with some form of income-generation was strong.

    A Syrian project went further and concluded: “The 9-month duration of a literacy course is not sufficient to allow learners the mastery of basic literacy skills” (UNDP 1992). Yet a project in Afghanistan found, “Experience has shown that after 9 months of classes meeting 2 hours a day (some 350-400 hours in all) women can be brought to a fourth grade reading level.” (USAID 1994)

    Ignoring differences of language, alphabets, literateness of environment, and levels of previous or other literacy among the learners, it would seem safe to reckon that the minimum time for developing skills in literacy and numeracy adequate to support livelihood and other ­development is 360 hours, plus more hours of learning and practice. Beyond that minimum, the duration of courses would depend on the complexity of the livelihood skills to be learned or developed.

  11. Cadres of instructors - The broad experience of income-generating projects suggests that arranging for two cadres of instructors, one for livelihoods, the other for literacy, appears to be more prudent than relying on “generalist” literacy instructors to undertake livelihood instruction or income-generating activities in addition to teaching literacy and numeracy.

    There is no argument about the need to train, support, and re-train the literacy instructors. However, there is a weaker consensus about how they should be recompensed for their contributions. Most of the programs reviewed make it clear that most literacy instructors do not have much schooling themselves, are not in steady or waged employment, and are themselves among the poorer of their societies. Naturally, they appreciate being paid in cash or kind. Most of the programs examined in this paper do offer pay, some at modest, others at more generous levels. Overall, it seems that NGOs are more inclined than governments to offer regular pay, rather than occasional moral or material awards. Some, like FAO’s Farmer Field Schools, follow the principle that “user pays” and expect the participants to negotiate the recompense with their literacy instructors (even though the agricultural instructors are paid employees of the program). A few other programs rely on the literacy instructors being pure volunteers, especially where they are recruited and selected by their own participants from among the local community. Overall, the broader trend appears to treat literacy instructors on a basis similar to livelihood specialists and to remunerate them for their efforts.

  12. Costs - Very little information on gross or unit costs was found in the documentation available. However, on the basis of two programs, supplemented by inferences from observation, we believe that the unit costs of the programs we have studied are quite low. The Uganda FAL reckoned a unit cost of US$4-5 per person enrolled. A project in Senegal, supported by Canada, estimated that the cost per enrollee would be approximately CDN$20. However, faulty implementation raised the cost to CDN$45 per enrollee ­(CIDA 2001, p.13). FAO’s People’s Participation Programme had some 13,000 male and female participants in 12 countries. The average cost per participant was estimated in 1989 to be US$63 (FAO 1990, p. 36). All that can be observed here is that even the highest estimate does not appear inordinate.

    That said, policy-makers in vocational/technical education need to bear in mind that, just as voc/tech education in schools and colleges is always more costly than general education, so analogous education for adults in villages and shanty-towns will unavoidably be more costly than simple literacy programs. In the cases of SODEFITEX, WEEL and WEP/N, which combine livelihood skills and the three Rs with training in savings, credit, and business management and development, considerably more is involved than simple literacy. In turn, teaching these skills will call for cadres of well-trained specialists, who will without doubt expect commensurate payment. Further, supporting them, as well as holding them to account - without necessarily employing them on a permanent basis - will require a soundly devised administrative structure.

  13. Elements of cost - Although no specific suggestions are possible here, it may be helpful simply to supply a non-exhaustive list of program costs, without specifying how they are to be apportioned:
    Learners: learning materials, learning supports like space, lighting, heating.
    Instructors for livelihoods and for savings, credit, business management and business development (on the assumption that they already have expertise in these subjects): remuneration, travel, subsistence, instructional materials, initial training as instructors, refresher training.
    Instructors/facilitators for literacy/numeracy and also for rights, responsibilities, civic, health and other topics in demand: remuneration, initial training, instructional and recording materials, refresher training.
    Specialists for identifying new business opportunities (on the ­assumption that they already have the expertise): remuneration, travel, subsistence.
    Trainers/technical supporters (whether community-based, contracted or public personnel): remuneration, training (initial and refresher), travel, subsistence.
    Supporting administrative infrastructure (for production, storage, distribution, travel, payments).
    Supporting infrastructure for monitoring (plus quality assurance in learning, attainments, application).

  14. Financial sustainability - Given that the potential clientele for livelihood-with-literacy/numeracy programs is currently large and likely to remain large for a long time, and given the perspective of continuous, lifelong education, the issues of cost require consideration of financial sustainability. Here, the policy-maker needs to bear in mind that, even at fee-exacting universities, few, if any, students, however affluent, meet the full cost of their education. Tuition fees usually cover only a proportion of the full costs of tuition. Since programs that include basic literacy and numeracy always have as their major clients people who are among the poorest of the poor, they will require proportionately more substantial subsidies from external sources, whether public or private. This will hold true whatever the measures to minimize dependency and expectations of free handouts, and whatever the measures gradually to reduce subsidies and move to higher proportions of local self-finance.

    However, the poor are not homogeneous. They can range from the destitute, who need a total subsidy, to those like the women of Rukungiri and participants in some of the Farmer Field Schools, who may be just above the poverty line but still able to contribute to the costs of their education. Further, the cases of WEEL and WEP/N suggest that groups of even very poor women can in a relatively short time mobilize their own savings and begin to pay for what they want. Thus, the proportion of subsidy could in principle vary from group to group, and, for particular groups, from time to time. Operating with such sensitivity and flexibility could well be beyond the capacity of a single central authority. However, decentralized approaches that set minimum standards but permit local adjustments to accommodate local conditions, communities, or groups could be feasible.

    It is also true that the countries whose people could benefit most from livelihood-with-literacy/numeracy education are among the poorest and least able to provide subsidies from local sources, whether public or private. The cases considered earlier have shown that, even where local public and private resources have combined and been amplified by international official and non-governmental development assistance, they have still been insufficient to cover more than a small proportion of the potential clientele. On the other hand, the cases from Bangladesh, Guinea, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Senegal, and Uganda suggest that NGOs, both local and international, can and do sustain themselves and their programs over long periods, apparently at least to the sufficient satisfaction of their supporters.

    If the government of a poor, indebted country, in alliance with nongovernmental and community organizations, and people of good will and energy, aimed to make livelihood-with-literacy/numeracy education available to substantially larger proportions of poor people and to maintain long-term financial sustainability, it would need to take three steps. First, in addition to fiscal allocations, it would need to develop a mechanism to mobilize local voluntary contributions to a special fund or even network of funds (village or community). Second, it would need to form large-scale and long-term consortiums with international donors, both official and nongovernmental. Third, the government would need to persuade international lenders, like the World Bank, its regional counterpart, the Islamic Development Bank, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development that investments in livelihood-with-literacy/ numeracy education would, in time, both reduce poverty and strengthen its ability to repay its debts.

  15. Going to scale - Normally, vocational and technical education policies are not associated with programs of mass education. Yet the numbers of very poor people working in livelihoods that could be made more productive, force the question whether education in livelihood-with-literacy/numeracy can be conceived in mass terms. Clearly, the cases of SODEFITEX, WEEL, and WEP/N reflect the recognition that larger-scale programs are necessary and that strategies to achieve larger scales need to be devised. SODEFITEX chose an analogue to a “point-line-network,” whereby it started with educating just a few members per cooperative, then one member per farming family, then gradually included more and more people. WEEL and WEP/N selected a strategy of working through more and more local organizations to reach more and more groups of women. In five to six years, they reached and helped 10,000 and 130,000 very poor people, respectively. For projects that have harnessed the teamwork of only small NGOs, these scales, and the time-scale within which they were achieved, command respect.

    In all three cases, the initiative was taken very carefully and gradual­ly by a relatively small agency at a very local level. Yet the strategy of gradualism has not demanded an inordinate amount of time to attain a significant scale. These features point once again to the desirability of decentralized approaches that permit local organizations, whether public or private, to assess the pace and manner at which expansion can be soundly undertaken.

    An additional factor counseling decentralization and gradualism is the complexity of the package needed to support livelihood-with-literacy/numeracy education. Developing the depth of capacity to support widespread instruction in a large range of livelihoods in a variety of ­environments, plus the necessary skills of fostering savings, credit, business management, and business development, requires not only time, but also careful amassing of local know­ledge.

    Finally, the findings of the PADLOS study of decentralization (Easton 1998) would counsel that assessing when to go to scale in a particular locality must take into account local infrastructure, natural and other resources, norms, and institutions.

8 Conclusions and Recommendations

This chapter attempts first to use the programs reviewed to suggest pointers for policy and practice in vocational/livelihood education for unschooled adults and adolescents in the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. More broadly, it aims to inform thinking and discussion elsewhere on how best to implement the concept of lifelong education within a framework of education for all, where “all” includes unschooled and non-literate adult women and men in both rural and urban areas and in both waged employment and self-employment in monetized and subsistence sectors of an economy. The nature and quality of the documentation and other information available limit the force of the pointers and suggestions.

Overall, the evidence suggests that it would be worthwhile for vocational or livelihood education policy-makers to develop policies that offered livelihood training to non-literate, very poor adults, especially women, who are unable to access knowledge and skills that might ­relieve their poverty.

Enabling environments - Knowledge and skills by themselves cannot guarantee a decent livelihood. As UNDP/UNESCO (1976) and the IIEP evaluations of the literacy programs of Kenya and Tanzania in 1989 and 1990 suggest, the economic environment must be supportive. Indeed, Easton (1998) suggests that local norms, broader institutional factors, local resource endowments, ­infrastructure, and sources of finance all need to be favorable before education and training can be fully fruitful. Easton’s view is supported by the approaches of ADRA in Uganda, SODEFITEX in Senegal, SEIGYM in Somaliland, and WEP and WEEL in Nepal, which have all found it necessary to include institutional development as a constituent of their programs.

If these organizations, most of them in Africa, have found it possible to design and implement packages of livelihood training, literacy instruction, and institutional development, vocational education policy should be able to do the same. Further, while most of these organizations have needed to adopt relatively short-term perspectives for any given locality, national policy should be able to take the longer view of SODEFITEX and to plan in terms of decades rather than three to five years.

The first recommendation is that vocational education policy should assess what would be needed in particular localities to ensure an environment that would enable training in particular livelihoods actually to result in higher productivity, incomes, and well being.

Strategy for diversity - The livelihoods and sets of livelihoods that the very poor undertake are notably diverse. So are the environments in which they work. So, too, are the possibilities of enhancing those livelihoods and developing new ones. Managing these diversities calls for flexibility, imagination, and resourcefulness, and for institutions that can respond appropriately. It points ideally to a strategy that will

  • allow for considerable decentralization and delegation
  • first follow existing demand, then seek out latent possibilities of new links with the mainstream economy, from which could arise new demands
  • foster flexibility and mobility
  • rely on and nurture freelance specialists in business and livelihood development
  • operate through institutions and procedures of complete transparency and public accountability.

Such a strategy will avoid reliance on packages of standard curricula in fixed training centers with fixed equipment and permanent corps of specialists.

Capacities - High-quality analysis, design, implementation and support are required. “To be avoided is a weak response in the form of low levels of analysis and design, and inadequate supervision” (Middleton & Demsky 1989, p. 101). Ballara shows the complexity of what is required:

“Certain precautions should be taken when income-generating activities are included in literacy programs. Results obtained during the 1980s show that these activities have to be treated as enterprises related to the requirements of mainstream economic production, offering continuity and remuneration to the participants. To avoid becoming involved in poorly-rewarded activities, literacy programs incorporating an income-generating activity should begin with a study of market needs; they should prepare women in non-traditional sectors and for future entry into the formal sector, rather than be directed towards traditional low-level skills which barely supplement home income and which finally becomes a type of welfare” (Ballara 1991, p. 47).

A strategy of decentralization and delegation must presuppose the capacity to diagnose current needs, detect future opportunities, and design and deliver high-quality training. Where such capacity cannot be assumed, capacity-building strategies with appropriate incentives and inducements must be developed. As the present study attests, in a large number of countries, the voluntary and non-profit sectors at international, national and local levels have responded well to incentives and capitalized on opportunities to deepen and expand their capacities. It is possible, too, that private, profit-making vocational education specialists - already detected in the Guinea study - may see opportunities to help themselves as well as the poor. At the same time, experience in several countries suggests that, where these sectors are weak, gradualist strategies to increase their capacities would be prudent.

If public resources are to be used to promote the decentralization and delegation, supervisory mechanisms are needed to ensure that they are properly applied and that the intended beneficiaries do indeed enjoy a proper quality of instruction. One increasingly well-known model for such mechanisms is the “Faire-faire” strategy of Senegal (Diagne & Sall 20015). Of course, the supervisory mechanism should be so designed that it does not actually obstruct, rather than promote, the decentralization.

The second recommendation is that vocational education policy should pursue a strategy of decentralization and capacity-nurturing that will permit resourceful responses to local actual and potential patterns of livelihood.

Savings, credit and content - As for actual courses of vocational education, this review suggests three pointers. First, because the learners are very poor, the approaches of ADRA, SODEFITEX, WEEL, Saptagram, and WEP/N indicate that immediate connections and access to sources of credit should be a component of every livelihood training program, without necessarily involving a special micro-finance institution. SODEFITEX, WEP/N, WEEL, Saptagram, and other programs supply models for encouraging savings as a means to create the resources for credit for business development and ensuring discipline in repayments. Special micro-finance institutions are not essential. However, in such situations, the expertise for helping groups mobilize savings and manage them through lending and recovery needs to be very reliable.

Second, there is a consensus that the actual content of a livelihood-with-literacy/numeracy course should be the result of a local survey and negotiations with the prospective participants. At the same time, current demand in a locality should form only the initiating basis for training in livelihoods. Opportunities for new livelihoods and businesses, especially those that would help people move into the economic mainstream, would need to be sought and demands stimulated for training to undertake them. In connection with this point, to strengthen the negotiating hand of would-be participants and to encourage accountability among instructors, the idea of vouchers, as used by the Somaliland Education Initiative for Girls and Young Men, merits observation and exploration.

Third, the literacy/numeracy component should, in the initial stages of the training, be subordinated to the language and idioms of the livelihood and business skills, in the manner that WEP/N has selected. As educators in Melanesia have shown (ASPBAE 2000[a]), and as the REFLECT approach has pioneered, instructional materials can be readily fashioned for particular languages, idioms and localities. This recommendation does not of course imply that the literacy/numeracy component should be restricted throughout the course to the discourse of the livelihoods in question; that would undermine the wider uses of the skills in other dimensions of daily life (recall Mikulecky’s observations that spontaneous transference did not occur). A report on a current project in Egypt notes: “Women attending groups and classes which treated them as whole persons reported major changes in their lives: skill development, greater income-generating opportunities and confidence development” (UKDFID 1999, para 8.4.5).

Our recommendation does, however, urge that the experiences of ACOPAM, SODEFITEX, and WEP/N be used as capital to construct more effective programs.

The third recommendation is that vocational education policy should provide for courses that combine savings and credit ­training with negotiated livelihood content and literacy/numeracy content derived from, but not limited to, the vocabulary of the livelihood.

Time on task - One of the most common observations in adult education, particularly in programs for very poor women, is the difficulty of maintaining regular attendance and of sustaining attendance over long periods. Against this is the need for adequate “time on task” in both the livelihood and the literacy/numeracy components. As noted earlier, although there is no firmly settled opinion on the minimum time needed on average to attain “sustainable” or permanent literacy and numeracy, a safe minimum would be 360 hours of learning and practice. To that minimum has to be added the time needed to teach the required livelihood and business skills.

Most literacy and livelihood programs now strive to negotiate their class times with their participants to minimize inconvenience and opportunity costs. Even so, if the daily commitments of the participants made a single stretch of time difficult, then the phased or modular approach used by WEP/N and WEEL (as well as the ILO’s use of Modules of Employable Skills for more than 20 years) might be used to encourage attendance and perseverance. Nonetheless, the SODEFITEX experience suggests that this could be a second-best solution Further, because many participants, however well intentioned, do miss sessions and attend irregularly, a margin of as much as 20 percent might be worth adding to the duration of a course. That would allow such participants some room to catch up, while affording the more regular some more space for practice and reinforcement.

The fourth recommendation is twofold. First, to ensure that the “average” adult learner masters literacy and numeracy sufficiently well to use them in support and development of a livelihood, the literacy component of a livelihood course should offer at least 360 hours of instruction and practice (the livelihood and business components will of course require additional appropriate time). Second, to help optimize perseverance, completion, and retention of learning, the course should be offered in a single ­session or term, if at all practicable.

Instructors - The effectiveness of a course will stand or fall by its ­instructors. The experiences discussed in this study counsel against having the lay people who serve as literacy instructors being livelihood instructors or organizers of income-generating activities as well. Lay people who are sufficiently literate can be trained to be effective literacy instructors. However, appropriate specialists seem to be the best people to handle instruction in livelihoods or income-generation. It is of course possible to train livelihood specialists to teach literacy as well. Indeed, the Experimental World Literacy Programme suggested that such people seemed to teach literacy and numeracy more effectively than school teachers. Where such a combination of skills is feasible, it could be worth fostering.

All the programs reviewed place much importance on not only training their literacy instructors but also supporting them closely and continuously, as well as offering them periodic refresher training. In this, they echo the Critical Assessment of the Experimental World Literacy Programme: “... a consensus seems to have emerged from EWLP ­concerning the need to give great stress to in-service as well as pre-service training of instructors” (UNDP/UNESCO 1976, p.135).

As for remunerating instructors, it would seem prudent to follow the majority trend of paying both livelihood specialists and literacy instructors. Where literacy instructors are paid, either by their participants or by the agency organizing the program, they tend to be more accountable, reliable, and regular. This may be one reason why most NGOs choose to offer a salary or honorarium, rather than appeal for voluntary effort.

The fifth recommendation is again twofold. First, vocational education policy should provide for two cadres of instructors: livelihood instructors and literacy instructors. While neither should be a permanent cadre, their patterns of recruitment, training, and support can differ from each other. Second, both cadres should be remunerated for the instruction they give.

Instructional methods - The consensus on teaching methods is that approaches that promote activity and interaction are likely to be most effective, however hard these approaches are to put into practice with instructors who have themselves had only limited traditional schooling. Easton writes: “Observation at the forty sites strongly suggests that teaching literacy and becoming literate in one’s own language or a familiar tongue, and acquiring new knowledge on this basis, are not terribly difficult provided the application of the new knowledge is clear, and the pedagogy progressive and participatory (1998, p. xxiii).

The sixth recommendation is that vocational education policy for non-literate poor adults should promote active, participatory, and interactive forms of instruction and learning in both livelihood and literacy components of training.

Finance - This study is not in a position to offer any estimates of the financial resources needed (see Chapter 7, subhead “Conditions of ­effectiveness - Costs” for a brief discussion).

The seventh recommendation is merely that vocational education policy-makers support further research on the issue of costs.

Financial sustainability - As education in livelihoods and literacy is likely to require long-term programs, financial sustainability is a necessity. Although poor people, poor countries, and poor governments will probably be able to meet at least part of the longer-term costs on their own, they are unlikely to be able to shoulder all of them and will need external assistance.

The eighth recommendation is that countries form local alliances of government, non-governmental and community agencies, and energetic people of good will to (a) raise local fiscal and voluntary finance, (b) form appropriate consortiums with external donors and (c) attract resources from international lenders.

Mass scale - The numbers of people who could benefit from education in livelihoods and literacy are sufficient to warrant large-scale programs. However, the complex nature of such programs and the requirement that they adopt local rather than general focuses counsel slow rather than rapid dissemination. The experiences cited suggest that slower dissemination need not involve inordinately long periods.

The ninth recommendation is that strategies of capacity-building, decentralization and gradualism govern the process of going to scale, with due attention to local infrastructure, natural and other resources, norms, and institutions.

Capitalizing on knowledge - The final recommendation derives from the experiences of ACOPAM (ILO), ADRA, the Farmers Field Schools (FAO, CARE, World Education), and the programs supported by IFAD.

The tenth recommendation is that any review of vocational educational policy should exert itself to identify, locate, and capitalize on the empirical experience and expertise that those organizations and others like them must have accumulated in their work in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere; and make it more readily accessible than this study has found it.

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Notes

1 “A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets (stores, resources, claims, and access) and activities required for a means of living: a livelihood is sustainable which can cope with and recover from stress and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generation; and which contributes net benefits to other livelihoods at the local and global levels and in the long and short term,” Chambers R. and G. Conway, 1992, Sustainable rural livelihoods: Practical concepts for the 21st century, IDS Discussion Paper 296, Brighton, Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.

2 It may be salutary here to recall that schools, universities, and open universities also fall short of total efficiency.

3 This observation does not deny the attested fact that many adults learn to read and write for the simple satisfaction of being able to do so, while others learn for religious reasons quite unconnected with considerations of material gain or betterment. However, these motivations on their own have not been sufficient to engage the majority of illiterate adults.

4 This point concords with Mikulecky & Lloyd’s observations in Canada that people with relatively low levels of schooling tend not to transfer literacy skills spontaneously from one domain to ­another (Mikulecky & Lloyd, 1993).

5 The faire faire strategy, supported by the World Bank, is not discussed in this paper, as the Senegal study found that it was not yet linked to either livelihood training or to income-generating activities.