Literacy and development A study of Yemissrach Dimts literacy campaign in Ethiopia
Abstract: The problem of illiteracy has been the object of many studies during recent decades. In Ethiopia, a country which reports one of the lowest literacy rates in Africa, the Yemissrach Dimts Literacy Campaign (YDLC) was started in 1962. Its activities were concentrated to rural areas and directed primarily towards adults. The present study is an evaluation of the Campaign. The investigation was conducted between 1974-1976 with the purpose of describing and analysing Campaign activities, focussing on student achievement, the teaching process, and benefits experienced by participants of the Campaign. Another important objective was to consider the role of the Campaign within a wider socio-economic and political context. The main sample consisted of 466 literacy students in eight different schools from the regions of Wollo, Wollega, Shoa and Gamu Gofa. An additional group of 66 adult villagers also took part in the interview studies. In addition to the interviews, researchers' methodology included achievement testing and classroom observations. The results of our study indicate that students became literate after one to two years at the literacy school. However, individual participants stated that they had not experienced substantial benefits arising from their literacy skills. When students were taught to read in Amharic campaign teachers used a combination of synthetic and analytic methods. The influence of traditional reading methods was clearly visible. Motivation for sending children to school appeared fairly strong, but adults declared that it was seldom possible for themselves to attend school; Contrary to what one might expect traditional values did not seem to be the reason for this. In the case of women and girls, however, tradition was probably a major obstacle. YDLC as an educative phenomenon is also discussed in an overall development perspective. A critical appraisal of evaluative strategies for development programmes in included.
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