Education for Youth and Adults

Picture of women reading instructions for operating a sewing machine

Adults come to literacy and education classes because they have specific social, economic and/or spiritual goals and they are searching for the knowledge and skills that will enable them to achieve their goals.  Youth and adults in non-dominant language communities may never have had a chance to attend school or they may have had only a few years of formal education.  Some may have gained basic literacy skills in an official school language and want also to have access to print literature in their community language or mother tongue.

Facilitators of effective literacy and education programs in non-dominant language communities encourage and support adult participants as they gain reading and writing skills in the language they know best and then help them to build a “learning bridge” between their own and another language of wider communication.

In effective literacy and education programs, youth and adults, whether first- or second-chance learners, are encouraged to recognize and use their rich store of knowledge and experience as the foundation for gaining new ideas, information and skills.  Early reading materials focus on the people, places and activities they know best and early writing activities challenge them to express their own thoughts and ideas in written form (rather than making them practice forming rows of letters).

SIL International supports literacy and education programs for youth and adults that are

  • Learner-centered: Instructional methods and lesson content are relevant to their lives and respect the knowledge and experience they bring to the learning situation;
  • Community-centered: Learners and other members of the community are the primary decision-makers for their programs;
  • Development-oriented: Reading and writing are recognized as tools that the learners can use to achieve their own goals for their own and their community’s development.

Resources for Literacy and Education

SIL International News Items related to the International Literacy Course in Africa