2008. 14 p.
International Journal of Educational Development, 28 (4), pp. 405–418
This paper argues that many internationally financed literacy programs do not sufficiently take into consideration important daily life issues of the learners, including nutritional deficiencies that may hinder learning, or of children–parent–society interactions that may improve learning. As a result, many programs have become synonymous with increased supply of a low-quality education. Often, these programs address almost exclusively Education for All (EFA) international policy targets, without sufficiently addressing other poverty alleviation targets, as defined by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This paper further contends that approaches that would generate the greatest effects within an EFA-perspective may not be the best way to alleviate poverty within a MDGs-perspective. Based on a case study of a women's literacy program in Senegal, this paper proposes to look at needs within an MDG perspective, and to use multi-pronged and integrated approaches to intervene in sectors where the poverty alleviation impact is the greatest. Current achievements against the MDG indicators show that significant efforts are needed to reduce maternal and child mortality, boost primary school enrollments, and remove obstacles so that a greater number of girls can attend school. One important target group for promoting greater achievements against these indicators would be young adults living in poverty, especially girls and young women. An approach that combines youth and family literacy, early child development (ECD), as well as health and nutrition interventions, could help to break a cycle of poverty that is fundamentally intergenerational in nature. Further, it is argued that integration of these different interventions, which are usually offered as separate services (but addressing essentially the same target group) could be more cost-effective than implementing each component as separate projects. Accordingly, this paper recommends the integration of such services as nutritional training for youth and adults; information and services for family planning; training on STD/HIV prevention and management; access to immunization for children and pregnant women; assistance to obtain antenatal registration and care as well as training and treatment of existing and non-complex conditions; and, if needed, micro-nutrient supplementation.
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