Unlocking the socio-economic development potentials : women's experiences of Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) in Apac District, Northern Uganda
Akello, Judith Abal
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The study was about women’s experiences of Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) and their potentials to socio-economic development in Apac district, Northern Uganda. The main objective of this study was to explore whether and how women participants in Apac District derived socio-economic benefits from skills acquired from FAL training. The study was informed by agency theory from Kabeer’s socio-economic viewpoint and Freire’s literacy perspective which argue on the element of conscientisation or awareness by making marginalised non-literate’s agents of socio-economic development. These perspectives helped to unravel socio-economic changes experienced by women as a result of their participation in FAL training. These changes were captured by comparing the beneficiaries of FAL with their non-literate counterparts, in terms of participating in communities, health promotion behaviours, children’s education and income generating activities. The study largely employed qualitative case study research design focusing on the experiences of 52 women and men both in the rural and urban setting. Using individual in-depth and key informant interviews, the study pointed out situations before and after women’s involvement in FAL training. The findings which were based on facts or observed evidence inductively generated from the participants revealed that women who trained in FAL acquired skills that greatly changed their lives. Access to FAL skills is seen to improve women’s daily lives in terms of improved self-confidence and awareness in the community. Also, the reading, writing and numeracy skills contributed to women’s awareness of the importance to participation in the key areas of community meetings, including confidence and ability to amend the meeting’s agenda and speaking at meetings. Further, from the practical skills, the women experienced increased awareness and understanding of health related issues as well as contribution and influence on children’s performance, persistence and success in school. In the same way, the practical skills provided in FAL training improved women’s awareness of book-keeping skills which has played a vital role in boosting their substantive engagement in income generating activities. Therefore, the study recommends that the MoGLSD, international donors, NGOs and civil society should ensure prioritisation, support and implementation of FAL training.