We Willin’ to Learn

by Tanis Atkinson



Nous voulons apprendre

Mike Browne, coordonnateur national du Programme d'éducation des adultes organisé par l'Association des enseignants de Saint-Vincent, a fait une tournée au Canada en septembre et octobre. Il est venu de Saint-Vincent, petite île des Antilles, pour demander de l'aide pour son programme et pour créer des liens avec les projets d'alphabétisation des adultes au Canada.

Selon un récent rapport de l'UNESCO, "30% à 50% des adultes de Saint-Vincent ont des difficultés à lire et à écrire, ce qui les empêche de bien fonctionner dans la société moderne". La plupart vivent dans la pauvreté; beaucoup sont au chômage.

Le programme de l'Association des enseignants a été lancé en 1983. Aujourd'hui, plus de 800 personnes y sont inscrites, dont 53% sont des femmes. Plusieurs organisations canadiennes ont contribué à la création de ce programme, mais aujourd'hui Mike Browne a besoin d'aide pour continuer. Il faut davantage de fonds, de fournitures et d'équipement.

Pour tout renseignement, écrire à:

Adult Education Committee
Union of Teachers, P.O. Box 304
St. Vincent, West Indies

Mike Browne, National coordinator of the St. Vincent Union of Teachers Adult Education Program, visited Canada during September and October this year. He visited Canada from St. Vincent, a tiny country in the West Indies, to gain support for the St. Vincent literacy project and to make links with literacy project and adult education projects in Canada.

A recent UNESCO report notes that "...between 30% and 50% of the adult population of St. Vincent have reading and writing difficulties which impede their effective functioning in modern society." Most of the people live in poverty and many are unemployed.

In 1983, in response to this situation, the St. Vincent Union of Teachers (SVUT) began the Paul's Lot Adult Literacy Project. The response from adults in the community was overwhelming. Today, over 800 adults are enrolled in the program and many others are requesting literacy classes in their communities.

Adults enrolled in the program at Paul's Lot acquire basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics. Learners are also developing new skills in typing, sewing and agriculture. There is also a Cultural Group: members are writing poems, calypsos, and skits. The program also offers a weekly clinic, where participants can consult with a nurse about their health problems.

Currently, 53% of program participants are women. Women account for two-thirds of the new registrants this year. The evidence is overwhelming that women, if given the opportunity to develop themselves through education, will most certainly seize the chance.

By far the main obstacle to women's continuing participation in the Paul's Lot Literacy Project is child-bearing and child-care responsibilities. Female adult learners who discontinue classes are likely to have more than twice as many children as those who continue. SVUT has determined that a childcare centre is top priority.

Canadian organizations have played a vital role in ensuring the success of the Paul's Lot Literacy Project. In 1981, financial support from World Literacy of Canada made the initiation of this project possible. MATCH is now providing financial assistance to organize a child care centre. Other Canadian organizations providing funding are: INTERPARES, OXFAM, and the CANADIAN TEACHERS FEDERATION.

The SVUT needs your support! They need:

Finances for - supplies
- training
- wages
- allowances
Supplies for - academic sessions
- skills sessions (e.g. sewing classes)
- office
Training for facilitators.
Equipment (e.g. typewriters, duplicating machines, photocopiers.)

For information, write:
Adult Education Committee,
St. Vincent Union of Teachers,
P.O. Box 304
St. Vincent, West Indies.


Mary Lyrm Stewart is Associate Professor of History and Women's Studies at Simon Fraser University. She is also the B.C. representative to the Board of Directors of CRIAW/lcref since 1982 and Co-ordinator of the Monitoring Project described in this article since 1983.

LyrmBueckert is a graduate of Simon Fraser University who has most recently been a researcher of the Status of Women Committee of the College-Institute Educators' Association of B.C.

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