“As soon as you learn, you are different”

Kebeh Kollie, Liberia 







Kebeh Kollie attended literacy and numeracy classes as an adult. Today her business is thriving – she has paid back her loan and successfully runs her dry goods market. Literacy with a goal produces miracles!

Adult Education and Development: Why did you not learn to read and write as a child?

Kebeh Kollie: I never had the opportunity as a child. My parents, especially my mother, never had the money to send my brother and me to school at the same time. So my brother was supported to learn instead of me. Our people say that the man is the one who stays in the family and takes care of the family. The woman always goes to another family. This is why they preferred my brother to go to school instead of me. Now, my brother is not doing much for me. He started helping me before the war, when he had a job. Presently, he does not have a job and things are hard on him. I believe that if I had been the one sent to school, things would be much better. Women have a lot of chances when they learn.

Why did you want to learn?

I wanted to learn because as time went by, I understood that education is the most valuable action for anyone who wants to be successful. Education changes one’s life and status among friends. I found out that as soon as you learn, you are different. First, I thought that it was too late. But then my friends were learning. So I took up the challenge.

How has literacy changed your life?

The first thing is that it has improved my life immensely by helping me to identify numbers. I think anyone without an education is partly blind. Secondly, with the identification of numbers, I can use my cellphone effectively because I call customers up and inform them of any new commodity I have and tell them that when they come my way a certain day, I will offer a discount. Thirdly, I am practicing keeping records by tracking profits and losses. I know some numbers. Not all. I sometimes feel sorry that I was not sent to school as a child. But it is better late than never. And I will continue to learn to read and write till I die.

What did you like most about the REFLECT approach of teaching reading and writing?

I am impressed with the teamwork with other women of my age and how easily the lessons related to our lives. We are not learning like children do. Most of the lessons are about what we do in our communities and homes. When I first started with this method, it was funny and I thought it was all just a joke. When some of our friends from other literacy schools said that they were taking exams in the learning classes, I became afraid. But REFLECT did not give us any test. The method is simple and talks about reading and writing and about our family and community lives.

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