LITERACY

It is often assumed that literacy is a key to development. However, becoming literate does not always lead to an improvement in development. What poor people need is the opportunity to develop their potential. As people are encouraged to use their initiative and whatever resources they have, often the need for literacy will be realised. They may need to order seed or medicines, keep records or accounts, send applications for funding, find out about new ideas for craftwork etc. At this point, people will be motivated to become literate. Literacy will be of real purpose for their lives. 

Please find below articles from Footsteps issue 16.

To download a pdf version of Footsteps issue 16, please click here (PDF 4.3 MB).


  • ‘Pick up your water-pot and then someone will help you put it on your head!’

    Like all the peoples of Africa, the Lyélé of Burkina Faso often use proverbs to give expression to the values and the wisdom handed down from their ancestors. To take the first step oneself, to rely on one’s own resources, is a fundamental principle of Lyélé society - and a principle that should also be at the centre of all development activity.

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  • Bible study: Literacy and the word of God

    Literacy and the Word of God by Ron Stanford. God has always communicated with people - not just through the spoken word and through the Prophets. He has also made sure that his communication was put in written form so that it is not forgotten or used wrongly. When he spoke either through Moses, through the prophets, through Jesus or through the Apostles, his words were always put in writing in the Bible.

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  • Cartoon Strips

    by Rosalyn Rappaport. When I say I have written a handbook of Crop Protection for Africa, eyes glaze over. When I add that it includes a lot of cartoon strips, my listener usually wakes up.

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  • Chloroquine abuse

    Following a recent eye health tour in Uganda, a group of experts (Drs Sandford-Smith, Hall, Waddell and Mattus) have been concerned to discover the abuse of chloroquine. Most health workers keep stocks of chloroquine to treat malaria. The drug is cheap, easy to obtain and very effective. However, what is not so widely known is that if high doses of this drug are taken over a long period of time, then eyesight is damaged. The damage is very gradual and slight at first. However, there is no ...

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  • Cooking without fuel

    Traditional cooking methods, using firewood and charcoal, prove more and more time consuming for women around the world as reserves of fuel trees are used up. Women find they either have to walk further to collect enough wood for cooking the family meal, or else buy expensive paraffin. The use of fireless cookers is not a new idea, but often the ideas are presented in ways which seem alien to people. Fireless cookers are unlikely to replace traditional methods of cooking, but they can be a very ...

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  • Editorial

    There are many definitions of literacy. However, this is a useful one... A person can be called literate...if they can read and understand anything which they could have understood if it had been spoken...and can write, so that it can be understood, anything that they could say.Dr Sarah Gudschinsky

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  • Knotty Problems

    A viewpoint on Christian development work The Knotty Problem in Footsteps No 14 asked for ideas which could help a Christian community development group beginning work in Namibia. Farmers in the area had lost confidence in their own traditional knowledge and new methods, recommended by extension workers, were no longer bringing good yields. Here, Roger Sharland shares a thoughtful and provoking reply.

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  • Letters

    Vegetable seed request Thank you for Paso a Paso (Spanish translation of Footsteps). The articles are of great interest for all of us. Issue No 9 on sanitation has been particularly useful to us because our health committee is supervising a programme of latrine-building. The clear examples of the construction of the different types of latrine have been very helpful.

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  • Local Action for Literacy

    by Clinton Robinson. Literacy is certainly not a matter of ‘just teaching someone to read’! The first essential is to have a written language. There are still many unwritten languages around the world, so if yours is one of these there is still hope - but a great deal more work will be involved to reach this essential first step.

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  • Planning for Success in Literacy

    by Pam Hollman. Good preparation and planning are essential for a successful literacy programme. The planning stage may take a long time but thoroughness at this point is likely to be rewarded by a successful programme. Clinton Robinson’s advice on setting up a village committee is the first important step.

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  • Resources

    Cooking with Hayboxes The Aprovecho Institute has a lot of information about cooking with insulated cookers - or ‘hayboxes’, as they call them. They will send details of construction, insulation materials and recipes. Write to...

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  • Teaching people to read and write

    Three case studies 1 The Rendille, North Kenya Bible Translation and Literacy is a group working with Bible translation, literacy and analysing languages so they can be put into written form. They work with isolated language groups who often have little ability to communicate with the outside world, with all the isolation, lack of resources and difficulties that may result. The group believes that literacy, adult education and community development can strengthen these communities so that ...

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