n Language Matters : Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa - Flexibility in adult literacy programmes : lessons learnt from Botswana

Volume 35, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-5986



Literacy programmes must be designed with the learners' needs, lifestyle and culture in mind. When assumptions about learners are inaccurate, or when all learners are assumed to be similar, the literacy programme may face challenges that seem insurmountable. Many aspects of the Tswana adult literacy programme in Botswana are based on accurate assumptions about learners who live in villages. However, many pre-literates in Botswana live in rural areas outside of villages. The needs, lifestyle and culture of these pre-literates are different from those of village residents. Aspects of the Tswana literacy programme that work well in villages sometimes prevent the spread of literacy in more rural areas. Some simple programme alterations, which take into account the needs of the more rural learners, have enabled learners in one rural area to become literate. Such programme alterations included, <I>inter alia</I>, the creative use of resources, the inclusion of activities to build pre-literacy skills, adapting to social and cultural norms, taking dialect variation and varying language ability into account, and empowering learners and their schoolchildren to share knowledge with others.

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