Does functional literacy improve farmers' take-up rate?
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CTA. 1999. Does functional literacy improve farmers' take-up rate?. Spore 79. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48334
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Functional literacy programmes (defined in the World Bank Development Indicators ? see News in Brief ? as 'the ability to use reading and writing skills in a social context') are often thought to have a positive role to play in the process of...
Functional literacy programmes (defined in the World Bank Development Indicators ? see News in Brief ? as 'the ability to use reading and writing skills in a social context') are often thought to have a positive role to play in the process of farmers adopting modern agricultural techniques. Is this really the case, and what are the lessons to be drawn from experiences in Africa? These and other related questions have been examined in a recent study by CTA of programmes of functional literacy for agricultural and rural development in West and Eastern Africa. The study combined seven case studies in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Madagascar, Mali and Niger with a survey by questionnaire in 19 other countries. It also featured a review of these countries' policies for agricultural development and extension work, as well as the experiences of UNESCO, the Francophone Agency (formerly ACCT), and Centre for Linguistic and Historical Studies using Oral Traditions. The results of the study were discussed at two parallel meetings held at the end of August 1998 in Antananarivo (Madagascar) and Niamey (Niger). A third meeting to conduct a full review of the study was held in Niamey from 22 to 25 September, where the major thrust of the final report and its principal recommendations were set out. A comparative analysis of the data collected shows that functional literacy programmes have indeed significantly contributed to the training of farmers, who have benefitted both individually and collectively. The case studies also point to behavioural changes in the communities hosting the programmes, as witnessed by the democratisation of the management and operations of community bodies. Some problems remain, however, which prevent the programmes reaching their full potential. The major issue is the absence or lack of political will, reflected in the under-financing of programme activities, prevarication, and poor coordination of sectoral activities. The study makes recommendations for specific measures, in particular the proper allocation of resources and the use of national languages. A book on post-literacy programmes is available from CTA : Reading, Writing and Cultivating, by J. Millican. CTA/CESO 1992. ISBN 90 6443 010 1, 92 pp, CTA no. 531, 10 credit points.
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