Saturday, February 27, 2010

Literacy Classes

This was a post I was working on awhile back, and hadn't finished ...but today's text about *dignity* reminded me of it.
FYI-The globe illustration below represents the illiteracy stats from 1994, (I'm not sure what the latest stats are now) but the following info gives at least a general idea of just how big an issue illiteracy still is for many people around the world.

Illiteracy globe (pg 3 -2/22/94 Awake!)

(the following excerpt is from pg 28 of the 6/8/99 Awake!)
World Illiteracy Rate Rising
“Nearly one-sixth of the 5.9 billion people in the world cannot read or write,” reports The New York Times. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the illiteracy rate is expected to climb. Why? Because 3 out of 4 children in the world’s poorest nations presently do not go to school. In addition to causing worldwide economic problems, ethnic conflicts have denied millions of children an education. Wars not only destroy schools but also turn many children into soldiers instead of students. Illiteracy, of course, contributes to social problems as well. The UNICEF report entitled The State of the World’s Children 1999 says that there is a direct relationship between illiteracy and birthrates. For example, in one South American country, “illiterate women have an average of 6.5 children, and mothers with secondary-school educations have an average of 2.5 children,” the Times said.

this article: illiteracy among Afghan's soldiers really shows the truth in the statement above, about how war turns children into soldiers instead of students.

Literacy class in Sekandji, Benin -1996 (photo on pg 80 of the 1997 Yearbook)

(following info from pg 479 JW Proclaimers)
Coping With the Problem of Illiteracy
In 1957 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization estimated that approximately 44 percent of the world’s population 15 years of age or older could not read or write. It was reported that in 42 countries in Africa, 2 in the Americas, 28 in Asia, and 4 in Oceania, 75 percent of the adults were illiterate. Yet, they too needed opportunity to learn the law of God so that they could prepare to be subjects of his Kingdom. Many who could not read had keen minds and could remember much of what they heard, but they still could not read the precious Word of God themselves and make use of printed Bible study aids.
For years individual Witnesses had been giving personal help to people who wanted to learn to read. However, in 1949 and 1950, literacy classes were inaugurated by Jehovah’s Witnesses in each of their congregations in many African lands. The classes were usually held in Kingdom Halls, and in some places the entire village was invited to benefit from the program.

Where the government was sponsoring a literacy program, Jehovah’s Witnesses gladly cooperated with it. In many areas, however, the Witnesses had to develop and use their own instruction manuals. Tens of thousands of persons, including thousands of women and elderly folks, have been helped to become literate by means of these classes conducted by Jehovah’s Witnesses. As a result of the way the course was designed, not only have they learned to read and write but at the same time they have become acquainted with basic truths from God’s Holy Word. This has helped to qualify them to share in the disciple-making work that Jesus commanded. The desire to do this effectively has motivated many to put forth earnest effort to learn to read.

(following info on pg 11 of Jehovah's Witnesses and Education brochure)
In Nigeria, for instance, literacy classes have been operated by Jehovah’s Witnesses since 1949. By 1961, thousands of Nigerians had thereby learned to read, and available records show that between 1962 and 1994, a total of 25,599 additional adults were taught to read and write in these classes. A recent survey showed that over 90 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nigeria were literate, compared with less than 50 percent of the rest of the population. In Mexico, the Watch Tower Society has operated literacy classes since 1946. During 1994, more than 6,500 persons were taught to read and write. Between 1946 and 1994, more than 127,000 were helped to become literate. Literacy classes have also been organized in many other countries, such as Bolivia, Cameroon, Honduras, and Zambia.

adult literacy class in Mexico - (pg 467, JW Proclaimers)

Such literacy programs have often been given recognition by the educational authorities in the lands where they have been undertaken. In Mexico, for example, a civil servant wrote: “I am grateful for your co-operation, and in behalf of the state government I convey to you their most sincere congratulations for your noble progressive work for the benefit of the people in bringing the light of knowledge to the illiterate. . . . I wish you success in your educational work.”

(photo and following info on pgs 5-7 of the 2/22/94 Awake!)

Profile of the Adult Learner
Those who teach adults should recognize the differences between adult learners and child learners. Personality, habits, attitudes, and interests are more set in adults than in children, making the adult more rigid and less receptive to change. On the other hand, adults have rich experiences on which to build and are better able to make sense of facts and concepts that can confuse youngsters. Usually they do not have as much free time as children do. Another very important difference is that adult learners, unlike children, have the freedom to discontinue their education at any time.

Many adult illiterates possess unique talents and have succeeded in some areas of life; they simply have not developed the skills of reading and writing. The literacy teacher needs to encourage them to use the adaptability, creativity, and endurance they have demonstrated in other areas of life. It takes courage for an illiterate to admit his or her needs and to ask for assistance. Although circumstances and individuals vary, many adults approach literacy training with apprehension and a lack of confidence. Some may have a long history of academic failure. Others may feel that they are too old to learn new things. “It is difficult to learn left-handedness in old age,” states a Nigerian proverb.

Teachers can build confidence and sustain interest by being quick to acknowledge and commend progress. Lessons should be structured to minimize learning failure and to ensure repeated successful achievement of learning goals. The publication Educating the Adult states: “Above all, success is probably the single greatest factor in continued motivation.”
Adults generally know what they want from educational experiences and wish to see immediate progress toward their goals. One professor of adult education in Africa stated: “They want to get into class, learn what they need to know as quickly as possible, then get out.”

Sometimes the goals a student sets are overly ambitious. From the outset the teacher should help the learner establish intermediate, short-term goals and then help the student to achieve them. For example, let us say a Christian enrolls in a literacy class because he or she wants to learn to read the Bible and Bible publications. These are long-term goals. In working toward them, the teacher can encourage the student to set intermediate goals, such as mastering the alphabet, finding and reading selected scriptures, and reading from simplified Bible publications. Regularly achieving goals sustains motivation and stimulates the student to keep on learning.

Effective teachers can do much to stimulate motivation by encouraging and commending their students and by helping them work toward practical, achievable goals. Yet, in order to progress, adults should not expect to be spoon-fed. They need to be willing to take responsibility for their own education and to work hard at learning. In doing so, they will learn to read and write, and these skills will transform their lives.

*Today's text about dignity, made me think of the sharp contrast between wordly secular & religious rulers who've failed to obey God's laws in regards to education of his people, (especially in the past) and leaders who've abided by it. Jehovah has always afforded his people with dignity no matter what their social position or economic class is in life. The law made provisions for the ongoing education of ALL members of society (including women and children) and it was *required* that the 'Book of the Law' be read and explained on a regular basis to the people. (Which would include slaves and alien residents living in the land). One example of that was during Jehoshaphat's reign (one of the *good* kings of Judah).

(pg 1271, of Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 1) says:
"Jehoshaphat commissioned certain princes, Levites, and priests to teach Jehovah’s law in the cities of Judah. (2Chronicles 17:7-9) ...and personally traveled throughout his realm, directing his subjects to return to Jehovah in faithfulness. (2Chronicles 19:4) ... Jehoshaphat's reign also witnessed the institution of a better judicial system. The king himself impressed upon the judges the importance of being impartial and free from bribery, since they were judging, not for man, but for Jehovah.—2Chronicles 19:5-11."

Just think of how having such a provision set out in the law really dignified members of society...especially those who were more vunerable to abuse, or being taken advantage of. Such as: the poor, the elderly, the sick or disabled, and the orphans & widows in society. When Jehovah's law was upheld in this regard, (as it is today), everyone is aware of their legal and Scriptural rights, and are afforded the dignity of learning God's standards and requirements directly from the source (rather than being misinformed by the opinions of others, or manipulated by men in high station who might have otherwise tried to deceive them, or twist the law to their own ends).
Isn't that such a contrast with how so many leaders among the ruling classes have treated their subjects? Throughout the centuries, religious and political leaders have intentionally kept their people in submissive ignorance of the law, by making sure they received little-to-no education. And on top of *telling them* what they could or could not do, they were given no access to God's Word (even if they were literate), in order to verify that information. -Which enabled corrupt rulers to abuse their position of power by defrauding and mistreating members of society...with God's "supposed" blessing.