Editorial

LiteracyLiteracy

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

There are estimated to be one billion people in the world unable to read and write, who are therefore described as illiterate.

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.

The subject of literacy is a huge one, but as the case study from EFICOR shows, people do not need to be experts to help their community. We hope that the articles will be of great value in assisting the people you work with to reach their full potential.

An interesting fact discovered from the returned survey forms, is that many groups around the world are using Footsteps as part of their literacy work. Articles are often translated into local languages so that people gain not only from practice in reading, but also from the useful content of the articles.

Do try out and adapt the ideas for fuel-less cooking. Even in northern England in spring, the solar cooker cooks rice successfully! The letters page brings queries and some good ideas to share.

Isabel Carter