News / Africa

    Liberia Literacy Program Targets Women

    Ciata Victor instructs an unidentified lady inside her  Internet cafe in Monrovia, (File photo).
    Ciata Victor instructs an unidentified lady inside her Internet cafe in Monrovia, (File photo).
    Jennifer Lazuta
    A new education program in Liberia is teaching women in their 30s, 40s and 50s how to read and write - something that only a quarter of the country’s women can do. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said that more such second-chance programs are needed to educate the world’s estimated 516 million women who remain illiterate.

    More than two-thirds of all illiterate adults are women. The majority of the women live in West Africa, where many girls never get the chance to go to school.
     
    Pauline Rose, head of UNESCO’s global monitoring report on Education for All, said that being illiterate poses a huge problem for women in day-to-day life. 

    "Some of the things people say is: that I can’t read the number on buses; I can’t pick up a medicine bottle and read the label and understand how many spoons of the medicine to take, for example. So there are real practical concerns about when women are illiterate," she explained. "It affects not only themselves but also their families. They are often the main caregivers for children. And when women are illiterate they are less like to make use of health services.”
     
    Rose noted that illiterate women are also more likely to die in childbirth and that their children are more likely to be malnourished.
     
    Some countries, such as Senegal, have improved women’s literacy rates through government efforts to enroll more girls in primary school and community awareness programs on the importance of female education.  But there are still many countries, such as Guinea, Niger, Benin, Mali and Burkina Faso, where less than one in four women can read and write.

    Rose said literacy programs that target women are needed in these countries.
     
    “In terms of this huge number of young women and adults who are already illiterate, there is obviously a need to have second-chance programs to ensure that they are able to become literate. That we can’t neglect them, just because they are no longer of primary school age,” stated Rose.
     
    In Liberia, where just 27 percent of women are literate, the government has launched a massive second-chance literacy campaign to teach women.  The women either never got to go to school or were forced to drop out due to the country’s more than 10 years of civil war.
     
     Lonee Smith, 35,  a student at the Firestone Liberia Natural Rubber Company’s adult literacy school in Margibi County, said having a second chance at education has changed her life.
     
    “Today, I am a happy woman. I’m very proud. I’m in the first grade. I can read and write," she said. "In the past, I couldn’t do that. My parents never sent me to school. But today I am happy that I can read and write. I’m a market woman. Now, I can sell my goods and count my profit with no one helping me. I am grateful."
     
    Liberia’s Ministry of Education said there are approximately 5,000 women, such as Smith, currently enrolled in adult literacy programs across the country.

    UNESCO’s Rose said that while this is a good step forward, such programs need to be expanded in order to reach the millions of other women.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora