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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid