It’s with great pleasure that Determined to Develop announces the graduation of 23 women from our adult literacy program. On November 18th 2016, the graduates attended a ceremony at Maji Zuwa Resort to receive certificates and recognition for their 2 year commitment to the program. The women’s achievements were celebrated by friends and loved ones as well as local chiefs, D2D staff members and the local community.
In our catchment area, only 1 in 20 women complete high school and according to UNICEF (2013) approximately 30 percent of women in Malawi are illiterate. Adult education is important for women as it gives them agency by allowing them to join local committee groups and ultimately participate in their own development. There is also a correlation between the educational levels of parents and their children, with most of the highest achievers in school coming from families whose parents can read and write. With the ability to read, parents are able to follow progress reports and check through school work.
At D2D we believe that if we can enhance adult learning throughout the community we will be able to build a better platform for development. 2 years ago, the women enrolling on this program had very low literacy skills. Some of the participants were women already involved in other D2D women’s empowerment projects, such as the revolving goat loan program or IGA projects. The group meets twice per week and were taught literacy skills in both Chitumbuka (the local language) as well as Chichewa (the national language).
Various studies around the world state that literacy has beneficial effects for women in many crucial areas of their life. Being literate equates to empowerment. Literate women have improved social mobility and possess stronger decision making capabilities in areas like health, household needs and education. Literate women are more likely to put their children through school too. In short, the returns on adult literacy skills are invaluable to the wellbeing of not only the women in question, but her family and community.
In true Malawian style, the graduation ceremony was filled with singing, dancing and speeches. Guests of the graduates quickly filled up the chairs ready to cheer on their family members and friends. As the graduates danced their way into the front of the hall singing a song of appreciation to D2D, their supporters clapped and sung along with them. After a warm welcome to graduates, guests and chiefs from Ponelo Kalonger, manager for D2D’s women’s empowerment initiatives, a short and comedic play by the graduates was performed to the audience.
Local chiefs made speeches congratulating the women and praising D2D for their work in the community. D2D’s executive director Matt Maroon addressed the congregation and spoke about the importance of education. He encouraged community members to support their children through school, so that the need for adult literacy programs in the future becomes obsolete.
Certificates were presented to each graduate by Matt Maroon and Chiefs Mtolyifwa and Mwakhwawa along with big rounds of applause from friends and family. Women in the group are eager to put their new found skills into place and want to start to learn English. D2D’s future plans for the project are to incorporate an English Language class for women and men in the local community. All the staff at D2D would like to extend their congratulations to the participants for determination and perseverance- traits not uncommon to the local community members, who are always eager and excited to work hand in hand to achieve development goals.