Next week, on 8 June, 72 people will receive their certificates when they graduate from the Capacity Foundation Academy, an adult literacy programme working among 45 villages in a rural part of northern Malawi.
Capacity runs eight adult literacy classes with about 200 students enrolled at any one time, nine teachers plus a manager.
To graduate, students must achieve a 75% pass in both Chichewa (the national language) and numeracy. Students attend classes three afternoons a week: each teacher takes one class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and another class on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Most of the attendees are women, reflecting the fact that many more girls drop out of education early compared to men.
People have various reasons for wanting to be able to read and write but the READ Educational Trust puts it this way: “Improved literacy can contribute to economic growth; reduce poverty; reduce crime; promote democracy; increase civic engagement; prevent HIV/AIDS and other diseases through information provision; enhance cultural diversity through literacy programmes in minority languages; lead to lower birth rates as a result of increased education; and confer personal benefits such as increased self-esteem, confidence and empowerment.”
The Capacity Foundation provides loans for people to start up or expand small businesses. To receive a loan, an applicant has to complete our business skills and marketing course and that necessitates literacy and numeracy. But many people attend the Academy for the simple pleasure and dignity of being able to read and write, and there is evidence that children of literate parents are more likely to attend school.
Broadly speaking, people become literate inside a year though complete beginners naturally take a little longer.
It costs about £65 to put a person through the Academy: if you think that’s a great investment in people, please give whatever you can to change lives.
Counting next week’s cohort, almost 300 people have graduated from the Academy since 2018.
Pictured is Davie Banda, who now manages the Capacity Foundation Academy but who, prior to his promotion, was one of our adult teachers for four years.