Adult Literacy Program

Adult Literacy Program

More than 250 million women in Asia are illiterate—they don’t know how to read and write. This makes GFA World’s adult literacy program a crucial need. The women in the program face many challenges in their daily lives, and the income potential is low for those who can’t read. They are often forced to take lower income jobs, with no possibility of other options to provide for their families.

Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen, and use numeracy and technology, at a level that enables people to express and understand ideas and opinions, to make decisions and solve problems, to achieve their goals, and to participate fully in their community and in wider society.”1

Various organizations have different strategies on how to teach adult literacy, but there are several commonalities. Literacy programs commonly include phonemic awareness—how sounds work together in language. Also, the student gains an understanding of reading comprehension.

An adult literacy program through GFA World generally contains these aspects:

  • Reading Basics
    – In GFA literacy classes, GFA missionaries teach the basics of letters and the sounds they make. Teachers write letters and words, often on a chalkboard, teaching the participants everything needing to become literate, starting with the very basics.
  • Writing Basics
    – People learn how to write the letters of their language. Teachers guide the student’s hand and often teach them how to hold a writing utensil. They support the students through the frustrations of learning an entirely new skill.
  • Math Basics
    – Participants learn how numbers work—addition, subtraction and so on. This knowledge opens up many new opportunities.

When a woman learns to read and write, a new world opens to her. She can now read warning labels, road signs and contracts. She can read to her children and help them with their schoolwork. These interactions help her children with their own literacy and development.

Math skills are also very important in the quest for literacy. When women understand basic math, they can understand contracts, rental agreements, etc. Women are less likely to be taken advantage of in the marketplace when they have basic math skills.

Mandeepa’s dad passed away when she was only three years old, leaving her mother and the five siblings alone.2 Her mother worked hard alongside Mandeepa’s grandfather in the fields, but it was never enough to raise them out of poverty. Mandeepa and her siblings never attended school and they were each married off at an early age.

Her husband was also illiterate, but they saw the need to enroll their daughter in school to learn. Mandeepa couldn’t help her daughter in school though.

When Mandeepa was 32-years-old, the Women’s Fellowship in her church invited her to a literacy class. She was so excited! As she walked to the church for her classes, people in her village would laugh at her and tease her for learning how to read at her age. She would carry her workbook under her shaw and keep learning. She was persistent and excited to keep up her studies.

After a year of learning, Mandeepa made a significant milestone. She could finally read the Bible she had received as a gift 16 years before. Mandeepa now carries a treasure—the ability to read and write. She never imagined she would have the chance to read!

What are the results of adult education and literacy for women? Literacy is considered one of the “great miracle cures” to poverty.

“The ‘multiplier effect’ of literacy empowers people, enables them to participate fully in society and contributes to improve livelihoods. Literacy is also a driver for sustainable development in that it enables greater participation in the labour market; improved child and family health and nutrition; reduces poverty and expands life opportunities.”3

Teaching adult literacy impacts poverty in many ways, such as the following:

  • Higher-income jobs
    – When people know how to read, they are more likely to qualify for higher-income jobs. Illiterate people are often limited to manual labor or menial tasks.
  • Hope
    – Literate people have hope for a better future. Education brings confidence in many areas of life, and they begin to dream of a better future.
  • Education impacts society
    – Values pass from generation to generation. When the value of education is passed along, the society improves, the economy is lifted and the quality of life increases.

Will you join us in providing literacy classes for women? GFA missionaries are trained in unique techniques of teaching adults in their region and culture. For tens of thousands of women across Asia, these free literacy classes have made a world of difference in their lives!

Learn more about functional illiteracy

1 “Believers Vulnerable Because of Illiteracy”. GFA World. February 2012.
2 Literacy. Memorial Assistance Ministries / Literacy Advance of Houston. Accessed 14 July 2019.
3 “Literacy: Something to be Treasured.” GFA World. September 2017.
4Literacy.” UNESCO. Accessed 12 July 2019.