Through the Department of Community Education and Extra-Mural Studies (CEEMS) of the Institute of Adult and Continuing Education (IACE) of Makerere University, Dr George Openjuru, the Head of the Department of CEEMS, with colleagues from Addis Ababa University Ethiopia, Kings College London, the Institute of Education London, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa and Uppingham Seminars UK presented a successful project bid to the DFID-British Council DELPHE programme . The programme designed to strengthen the capacity of higher education institutions in developing countries, will fund a three-year programme linking Makerere University with Addis Ababa University, Kings College, the Institute of Education and University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Uppingham Seminars is also a background partner in the project.

The overall purpose of this project, "Literacy/numeracy for improved participation of non-literate rural poor in livelihood projects in their everyday lives," is to introduce adult education practitioners, trainers and course organisers to gain first-hand experience of ethnographic style approaches to the study of indigenous beliefs and values that structure learners' understanding and experience of literacy/numeracy and to see how such knowledge could be used to develop curricular materials that can support and promote the use of adult literacy/numeracy in everyday livelihood practices of rural communities in Uganda and Ethiopia. The project will by and large contribute to MDG and EFA goals, specifically MDG one and two.

This ethnographic perspective introduces a different dimension to adult literacy/numeracy education work. It promotes a context-based adult literacy/numeracy education: that is the teaching and learning of adult literacy/numeracy based on the principle that the best way for local people to develop the literacy/numeracy practices they need for engaging with their immediate economic and political environment is by building upon the literacy/numeracy practices that are supporting these activities in their communities.

The second purpose which flows from the above is to introduce the idea of publishing relevant new readers' materials that can introduce and support a reading culture in the lives of rural people, especially for those who have just learnt how to read and write. This will help to overcome the lack of appropriate and relevant reading materials for rural people who are interested in reading.

There (are) will be four strands to the project.

DELPHE STRAND 1: Capacity Strengthening of university/higher education institutions
Jan 4-9 2010 at Kampala, Uganda

The first workshop was held in Naalya, Kampala (Sky Hotel); 21 participants attended with three resources persons (Professor Brian Street, Professor Alan Rogers, and Dr George Openjuru). Edward Kabongoya facilitated the event.

Three of the participants came from Ethiopia, one from Bahir Dar University and two from Addis Ababa University. One other participant came from Kenya (SIL).

The aim of the workshop was to help staff at these universities to seek ways to incorporate ethnographic approaches to adult literacy and numeracy into their teaching programmes at diploma, undergraduate (levels 1 and 2) and post-graduate levels; to look at the curriculum and teaching-learning resources needed and to see how such a fit could be made. This is the beginning of this process which will continue over the next few years.

The workshop opened with the participants indicating their expectations, aspirations and relevant experience; this was revisited on the last day. A light-touch introduction to ethnography was followed by a reading and report session using Dr Rafat Nabi's book, Hidden Literacies. A short period of field visit and report back was then conducted. This was followed by a deeper session on ethnography.

Groups were formed to discuss how to incorporate ethnographic approaches into existing curricula; the groups reported back with the Director of the Institute being present. Later sessions concentrated on what kinds of teaching-learning materials would be needed and how to organise and assist field visits for the students. The workshop ended with discussions as to how to take this forward and how to fit into other parts of the Delphe programme and other events such as the Sierra Leone conference and the South Africa conference.

A full report will be placed on the DELPHE-Uganda-Literacy website www.socialliteracies.weebly.com.

STRAND 2: A series of three LETTER workshops will be held for a group of about 20 trainers of adult literacy and numeracy facilitators. The participants will be drawn from both Uganda and Ethiopia. These workshops will draw upon the experience gained in LETTER in India and Ethiopia and the publications which resulted from these two programmes (link). The first workshop will develop the themes of ethnography and literacy and numeracy as social practices: there will be a short field work experience. The participants will then conduct (individually or in small groups) a small-scale ethnographic style research project into local literacies and numeracies. The second workshop will discuss these research case studies and start the process of developing a curriculum for teaching literacy and numeracy to adults based on the findings of the local studies.

The new feature of this programme will be that the participants in this workshop will themselves undertake a teaching programme with adults and will reflect on this process. This will lead to the third workshop when the participants will bring together the experiences of the study of the ethnography of literacy and numeracy; the findings of the case studies; and the experience of teaching. It is planned that a publication will come from this programme as from the India and Ethiopia LETTER projects. In each country, a new approach to the training of adult literacy/numeracy facilitators will be developed and implemented in some programmes.

STRAND 3: Alongside the LETTER workshops will be a strand on the preparation, production and use of new reading materials based on the experience of University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in this field. Writing workshops will be held and a number of booklets and other kinds of literacy materials will be prepared. Some of these will be used in the experimental teaching programmes of Strand 2.

STRAND 4: Advocacy. The planning team were strongly of the opinion that the overall climate and policies in both countries (Uganda and Ethiopia) needs to be encouraged to take a more sympathetic approach to such ethnographic studies of literacy and numeracy practices. There is little point in training staff in new approaches if the context within which they work provides them with little support for the exercise of such new insights. To this end, the project will seek to promote among educationalists and policy makers, administrators and planners in both government and non-governmental organisations a greater awareness and understanding of ethnographic and social practice approaches to literacy and numeracy by meetings, workshops, written submissions and other means. The team are keen to encourage international agencies, such as DfID to take account of adult literacy and numeracy development in the more culturally sensitive ways being promoted by this LETTER-Delphe Project.

THE PROJECT has started with a planning meeting in Norwich (UK) 31 August - 1 September 2009. The key team members were present: Dr George Openjuru (Makerere University, Dr Elda Lyster (University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, Professor Brian Street (Kings College London), Mr Dave Baker (Institute of Education London), Professor Alan Rogers (Uppingham Seminars). The other member of the planning team, Alema Hailu Gebre of ANFEAE, Ethiopia, was prevented from attending by the British government restrictions over his visa, despite the fact that the meeting was funded by the British government!

The first workshop under Strand 1 was held in Uganda, 4-9 January 2010.

The first of the LETTER workshops will be held, also in Uganda, 12-17 April 2010 (provisionally).

Openjuru, G 2007 An examination of the difference between the contents of the FAL literacy curriculum/primers used in Uganda and everyday literacy practices in rural community life. Journal of Research and Practice in Adult Literacy, ISSN 1747-5600 Vol. No. 63 Summer 2007 pp. 35-41

For further details, please contact: Openjuru@yahoo.co.uk or Openjuru.G.L@iace.mak.ac.ug