Implementing community involvement

From the outset, communities were drawn in to give their opinions, advice and ideas. ‘Community mobilisers’ went into the field and invited people’s contributions with the words: “Talk to us”. Indeed the term Masifundisane means “We learn together”. Yet another rallying cry was: “Each one, teach one”. A problem-solving methodology was reaffirmed for the literacy programmes.

Initial steps

Particular attention was given to rural areas, and the density of unemployment, poverty and consequent illiteracy figures were identified and clarified. It was resolved to try and address rural conditions through the programme so that people would be reaffirmed and developed as self-sufficient and productive citizens where their home communities had emerged historically.

Attempts would be made to address such other matters as health including AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, with developments in health also achieved through the literary focus of the programme.

Five objectives

The strategic plan that emerged after the Cuba visit reflected five objectives, namely to: 

  • Provide easy access to the programme for illiterate adults
  • Create partnerships with various parties who could add critical resources to 
  • the initiative 
  • Create relevant curricula
  • Train facilitators, and monitor and evaluate the programme effectively
  • Develop institutional capacities.

Study in Cuba

In 2006 several senior members of the Masifundisane team visited Cuba and spent two weeks in that country. They discussed issues with a wide spectrum of people, conversed with every literacy stakeholder available and generally sought insights from people who had promoted literacy in Cuba from the grassroots up. The team returned fired with enthusiasm.

Planned community involvement

The basic approach to implementation of the programme was planned in such a way that it was driven by impoverished local communities themselves. It did not depend fundamentally on external resources because it was thought by the government funded Masifundisane team that these agencies might not address community needs adequately.

Evidence

Information with which to comprise the report was gained by the writer’s use of the following methods: participation in several aspects of the programme during the period mid- 2006 to early 2008, facilitating training, observation of activities, formal meetings, interviews with senior personnel and field staff, gathering related anecdotes, attendance at graduation and documentary study.

Introduction

For some years an adult literacy programme called Masifundisane (Zulu: ‘teach one; teach all’, or ‘teach each other.’) operated in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, under the provincial Department of Education. It was directed by Mrs Cynthia Mpati. While it operated it held out great hope for the most impoverished citizens to better their lives and achieve greater dignity. Many of the elderly people who engaged with it had seen their opportunities for a sound education evaporate during the apartheid era.

Community empowerment through enhanced literacy: Masifundisane

Community empowerment through enhanced literacy: Masifundisane (Zulu: ‘teach one; teach all’, or ‘teach each other’) - A project implemented in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Clinical Teaching in Education

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