11 December 2020

Agnes gives back to her community through her role in the literacy and numeracy programme

Agnes Dede lives in Abease, a cocoa-growing community in Ghana. As a facilitator for literacy and numeracy classes in her community, she has graduated 12 adult learners from her course. Many of her students have never been to school or have limited education.

Today, however, that has changed. Her students can now write their names, spell and count. They can also assist their children with their schoolwork, helping them to develop a greater interest in their children’s education. The knowledge her students have gained has also had a positive impact on their work, for some resulting in an increase in income. In turn this could help to increase child protection in these households.

“As a result of my work, many people in my class are now able to use smartphones. They can also read the weight of their cocoa correctly when they go to sell it,” Agnes said. Her students have also been able develop basic bookkeeping skills, helping their businesses. “They are now able to determine how much they have invested in their farms over a period to determine their profit. Some of the people in my class can now write their names and read their Bibles.”

Addressing the community’s need

In 2016, increasing adult literacy was identified as one way to contribute to child protection by the International Cocoa Initiative’s Community Development Programme, which worked with communities to promote child-centred community development from 2015 to 2018 with ICI core funding. It has been shown that when children’s parents are educated, particularly women, this can have an impact on child labour. Many adults in communities like Abease were found to have little or no formal education.

From the outset ICI worked with the Non-Formal Education Division (NFED) to set up adult learning classes for those in need. After consultation with community members in Abease, members of the Community Child Protection Committee (CCPC) registered all those interested in joining the classes.

The NFED provided classes for many communities, but due to staffing shortages eight communities were without a facilitator. In order to successfully run the classes the communities were encouraged to present someone to be trained as a local facilitator. The ideal candidate had to be literate, tolerant and possess good organisational skills in order to handle the class.

Agnes gets an opportunity to give back to her community

When Agnes heard ICI and NFED were looking for someone to teach the class in Abease, she volunteered. As secretary to Abease’s Income Generating Activity (IGA) group, she had proven herself to be equipped with the necessary skills. This group brought together and supported women from homes where children were at risk of child labour to carry out activities like rice farming, soap making and palm oil production, to supplement their household income. Along with volunteers from five other communities in the Assin Municipality, Agnes was trained by the Director of the NFED to run the functional literacy class in Assin Fosu.

“What encouraged me to become a facilitator was the fact that when ICI started working with my community, some of us were supported to start rice farming to bring in extra income to our families,” Agnes explained. This inspired her to give back to her community.

Agnes’ class includes people from the local Community Service Group, the IGA group and other community members. She has both women and men in her class, though the latter make up the majority of her students.

“ICI helped us to start an evening school here to help us develop arithmetic skills. Our madam, Agnes, takes us through our lessons,” said Mary, a member of the IGA group and beneficiary of the literacy and numeracy class. “With the help of this class, I can now read simple English sentences which has improved my way of life. I also know how recite and calculate basic arithmetic.”

Thanks to her work as a facilitator the lives of many of her students have improved. Some of the women can now help their younger children with their homework. Those involved in sewing can make better clothes as they can now take accurate measurements and write them down. With the support of the Community Development Programme, Agnes did not only have an opportunity to improve her income, she also had the opportunity to be of great service to her community.

Learn more about ICI’s work with the Abease community in this short film.

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