This quote provides one small insight into how literacy programs change lives. CRMF started with funding for one literacy center in 2002 and offered the first adult literacy program for the poor in the Tamatave region. Today we have 15 centers, located in both urban and rural regions, and conduct classes for women, men and teenagers. Over 3500 people have completed basic literacy instruction. Literacy training, and providing opportunities for our program graduates remain at the heart of CRMF‘s work in Madagascar. The demand to learn reading and writing, as well as computer skills continues to grow.
“Soa ny Mianatra!” – Learning is Wonderful
“Thanks to (this training) my children can go to school and my burden is less heavy.This is the reason I can say to you that I am happy to be able to read and write!” (Her inability to read or write greatly limited her ability to provide access to schooling, food and clothing for the children. She joined after hearing a radio advertisement for the centers.)
CRMF Literacy Program Graduate and Caretaker of her grandchildern
After three months of accelerated courses I can read and write, thanks to CRMF. I thank them very much for helping us with Malagasy.
CRMF Literacy Graduate
No literacy, no development
This statement by Brother Edwin Joseph makes clear how critical it is that the poor of Madagascar have an opportunity to learn to read and write. Our achievements in literacy include pioneering the first adult literacy program in the region of Tamatave in 2002. Today CRMF funds about 20 centers including school supplies, and teacher training and salaries. In some centers, we also pay for electricity or solar lighting.
WHO ARE OUR LEARNERS?
- Literacy students include men, women and children. At the centers they can learn to read, write, and do basic math.
- Often men and boys who are push-push drivers, a sort of human taxi, take classes at the urban centers. Some migrated to the city from rural areas where schools destroyed years ago by cyclones were never rebuilt.
- Many women students are especially eager to learn. Many were kept out of school when they were young to help the family and never had the opportunity to learn to read. Embarrassed that they could neither read nor write, they asked for classes of their own.
- Motherhood often comes young in Madagascar, and many women bring their young children with them. Some help others with learning in their one-room homes.
- CRMF also sponsors classes for prison inmates.
- Helping children with homework
- Qualifying children for support programs
- Completing training programs
- Reading the Bible
- Women employed in constructing the cement rings used to make family latrines are graduates of the CRMF literacy program.
- Individuals receiving micro-grants have often completed, or are enrolled in, literacy programs.
WHAT ARE THEIR MOTIVATIONS?
OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE FUTURE:
International Literacy Day
Every September, past and present literacy program students and staff gather to help celebrate World Literacy Day. For the 2009 celebration, ONG St. Gabriel and CRMF chose a poor, urban area in Toamasina near a well-established center as the site for the events. Some shared stories about the impact of literacy in their lives, while others participated in competitions to develop songs and cultural dances. The event was covered by the local media and both traditional and computer literacy centers experienced an increase in interest in the following days.
Computer Training Centers
In 2006, CRMF financed the region’s first computer training center for the poor. This was achieved after requests from Brother Edwin Joseph, the director of a school in Fanandriana, and the United States Ambassador to Madagascar.
Computer skills are critical, and the centers are so popular that there are waiting lists for classes. One young man spoke about his experience at a literacy event. He was employed at a bank, yet his opportunities for promotion and earnings were limited due to his lack of computer skills. He wanted to learn, but was unable to afford expensive training programs. After classes at one of the technology centers, he was able to increase his salary and move into a better position. We are hoping to update and expand the technology centers soon so that there are more success stories such as his.