Supporting adult literacy in Uganda

Paul Sunday Odriga teaches students at at Duba Functional Adult Learning Centre in Adjumani district. Photos: LCCN
Paul Sunday Odriga teaches students at at Duba Functional Adult Learning Centre in Adjumani district. Photos: LCCN

LWF provides education and cash grants to refugees and hosts 

(LWI) Shop owner James Erama’s business used to lose a lot of money every month because he couldn’t balance his books or track his investments, sales or profits.

However, ever since he learned how to read, write and keep track of his finances, the Duba, Uganda, businessman has been on the road to making a profit at his retail outlet.

“I now have a cash book where I record all the goods in my shop, the sales and profits,” he says.

Erama is one of a group of people benefiting from the Duba Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) program in Adjumani district, which was established by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) with funding from the European Union Humanitarian Aid.

Men attend an adult literacy session at Duba Functional Adult Learning Centre in Adjumani district.
Men attend an adult literacy session at Duba Functional Adult Learning Centre in Adjumani district.

Meet basic education needs

Hundreds of refugees and business people have been given a ray of hope through the LWF’s adult literacy programs in northern Uganda.

Fifty-year-old Juliet Ipio, another participant in the Duba FAL Centre and Kadabaara business group, says that she has learned how to read and write. “With my knowledge in reading and writing, I can keep track of my business through my records.”

The Duba FAL program is uniquely tailored to meet the basic education needs of illiterate adults in the northern regions of Uganda. Students in the FAL program learn basic literacy and numeracy.

The class gives men and women an opportunity to further their education.
The class gives men and women an opportunity to further their education.

“Thirty people converge here three times a week to learn how to read, write and calculate figures,” explains Paul Sunday Odriga, an FAL instructor at the Duba Functional Literacy School.

The LWF believes that education is not a privilege, but a human right. However, millions of people around the world have been denied this essential right. According to a 2017 report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO), 264 million children worldwide don’t go to school.

This has exacerbated the enormous growing poverty rate worldwide.

Paul Sunday Odriga teaches students at at Duba Functional Adult Learning Centre in Adjumani district.
Paul Sunday Odriga teaches students at at Duba Functional Adult Learning Centre in Adjumani district.

Rebuild livelihoods

Since education is key to improving people’s livelihoods, the LWF has established 16 unique education programs in the Palorinya and Adjumani refugee settlements.

More than 30 people training at the Duba FAL Centre are looking forward to establishing a group enterprise as well as individual businesses after the six-month course.

A business group in one of their savings and loan sessions.
A business group in one of their savings and loan sessions.

“We have been supported with a cash grant worth 6,000,000 Uganda Shillings (ca. 1,340 EUR)  by the LWF and the EU Humanitarian Aid fund and we have established a retail business to earn a sustainable income and make poverty history,” Ipio says.

The trainees hope to save profits from the group business in a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), where all individuals will have access to loans to establish personal or individual businesses.

“The programme, which combines adult literacy training with a VSLA is not only geared to empower the individuals to read, write and save; it is about the community coming together to support one another to break the cycle of illiteracy and correlated poverty,” says Heidi Lehto, LWF’s grants manager and focal person for the project in Uganda.

The LWF has supported 80 groups (20 in Adjumani District and 60 in Moyo District) with cash grants, with 415 beneficiaries attending the education program. The groups have established income generating activities to earn a collective income.

“We have supported the groups to ensure that they rebuild their livelihoods for self-sustenance,” says the LWF’s Jean Martin Olego.

The programme, which combines adult literacy training with a VSLA is not only geared to empower the individuals to read, write and save; it is about the community coming together to support one another to break the cycle of illiteracy and correlated poverty.
Heidi Lehto, LWF’s grants manager and focal person for the project in Uganda

Plan for the future

While beneficiaries from the education program establish and manage businesses, they have also established VSLAs.

A student attends a literacy class at a Functional Adult Learning Centre.
A student attends a literacy class at a Functional Adult Learning Centre.

“The LWF introduced the idea to us and trained us on the basics of collecting saving and loan acquisition,” says Erama, explaining that after the training, the LWF provided the group with a VSLA kit that included a cash box, cash books, a calculator and savings books.

Through the VSLA, members save between UGX 1,000 and 5,000 per week and can acquire quick loans at any time with the lowest interest possible charged.

“Saving is now part of our lives, and with our savings we can plan for our futures, take our children to school and also establish businesses for sustainable incomes,” Ipio concludes.

All 16 FAL centers established by the LWF in Palorinya and Adjumani settlements have VSLAs through which they save and acquire loans for future development.

Adult literacy activities in Palorinya and Adjumani district’s settlements are funded by the EU Humanitarian Aid.

LWF Uganda site