What is a Development-based literacy program?

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A Development-based literacy program is integrated into, added onto, or based upon, a development program in some area such as health, agriculture, nutrition, institutional development, or economics.


Many people or agencies organize and implement development projects or programs. They either assume the presence of literacy or that literacy is not necessary to the success of the development project. Too often, one or both of these assumptions proves false. Program organizers then seek to develop a literacy project which is based on the development program.


Alternatively, someone sponsoring a development initiative will realize that there is a need for literacy and plan a literacy component for the development project.


In both cases, it is appropriate to think in terms of a Development-based literacy program.

Indicating conditions

Here are some conditions that indicate the choice of a Development-based literacy program:

  • A development initiative is planned which requires a given level of literacy for success.
  • A development initiative is planned for an area or community where there are very low levels of literacy.
  • A development initiative is planned as a starting point for long-term development efforts. Literacy will ultimately be necessary for success.
  • A development initiative is planned which will promote a moderate to high level of interaction with a broader segment of the regional or national culture and economy.
  • A development program is already underway and is running into significant problems because of a lack of literacy or literacy-based skills (basic accounting, record keeping, or reading technical manuals.)
Program goals

Here are some typical program goals of a Development-based literacy program:

  • To develop an adequate level of literacy to support the goals of the development program
  • To address the problem of illiteracy in the context of the development effort so general life skills are enhanced
  • To provide a core of literates so that long-term leadership can emerge for project continuity
Possible strategies and activities

Here are some possible strategies for the literacy component of a Development-based literacy program:

  • Organize literacy classes as a required first step to participation in the development program.
  • Develop postliteracy materials which support the development activities.
  • Use literacy classes to address development issues or to provide some of the information needed for the development program to function.
  • Ask participants in the development component to organize and run literacy classes as an exercise in self-development and management.
See also

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Page content last modified: 27 July 1999

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