On July 17, 2012, in the Nyanza District of the Southern Province, 80 men and 93 women were the first wave of graduates from the first cycle of a six-month functional adult literacy course sponsored by the USAID Ejo Heza program, managed by CHF International Rwanda and in close partnership with the Association d’Entraide des Eglises de Pentecotes du Rwanda (ADEPR) and Save the Children. USAID Ejo Heza (Kinyarwanda “For a Brighter Future”) is an integrated improved livelihoods program which began in July 2011 and is funded by USAID’s Presidential Feed the Future initiative (www.feedthefuture.gov). To date, the literacy program has trained approximately 8,000 learners graduated in 400 ADEPR literacy centers in USAID Ejo Heza’s eight focus districts in the Southern and Western Provinces, including: Nyanza, Gisagara, Huye, Nyamagabe, Nyarunguru, Ngororero, Karongi and Rutsiro.
PHOTO: Nyirangendo Beatrice, a 32 year-old single mother speaks aboout her personal motivation for joining the literacy class.
The adult literacy program‘s main objective is to develop literacy and numeracy skills using nutrition, health, financial education and agriculture lessons and is based on the Ministry of Education’s functional literacy curriculum. To effectively achieve these goals, USAID Ejo Heza identified ADEPR, one of Rwanda’s longest standing and esteemed local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) specializing in literacy development nationwide since 1940, as an implementing partner. USAID Ejo Heza also includes support from Save the Children to incorporate health and nutrition messages into the literacy program.
The diverse group of 173 learners ranged from 16 to 57 years old, with the majority between the ages of 18-35 years. Nyirangendo Beatrice, a 32 year-old Rwandan single mother from Nyanza, humbly spoke to her personal motivation for joining the class. “The benefits of this program are many...now I can read, write and count, which helps me to read the Bible and church songs, vote for my leaders and recognize road signs. I can make a list to buy food at the market, know how much I’ve spent, and save for unexpected illnesses and urgent matters. I know how to make a balanced diet for me and my son. I made my kitchen garden as source of micronutrient and I have chickens as source of protein.”
Uniquely positioned to understand the realities faced by beneficiaries, the USAID Ejo Heza program, embraces a functional literacy approach: a basic curriculum that provides individuals with both the knowledge and skills they need to better complete daily activities—everything from balancing a savings book with accuracy, to the nutritional benefits and convenience of a kitchen garden and cooking demonstration practices for a diversified diet.
PHOTO: The President and CEO of CHF International David Weiss , Governor of the Southern Province Alphose Munyantwari and Mayor of the Nyanza District Abudallah Murenzi pose with the class participants at the literacy graduation ceremony.
To celebrate the event, the President and CEO of CHF International, Mr. David A. Weiss, together with the CHF Board of Trustee member, Ambassador Vicki J. Huddleson, who were on an official trip to Rwanda, were in attendance. The event was presided over by Mr. Alphonse Munyentwali, the Governor of Southern Province. Other high profile guests in attendance included Mayor of Nyanza District Abdallah Murenzi, USAID Representative Fina Kayisanabo, ADEPR Reverend Pastor Samuel Usabwimana, Colonel Jean Damascene Sekamana, Representative of MINEDUC, Camile Kanamugire, the Regional ADEPR Pastor of Huye, Jean Karekezi.
Ms. Amy Davis, Chief of Party for the USAID Ejo Heza Program was generous in her thanks to all the implementing partners, teachers and learners and noted that the support of the Ministry of Education was crucial to success. She explained that the literacy campaign was the beginning of a pathway for learners, telling them that once they succeeded in literacy, USAID Ejo Heza will support them in choosing the next intervention—from savings groups to cooperatives to access to business development services. CEO David Weiss imparted to the audience that CHF International’s philosophy is to help empower people to help themselves and aptly reflected that ‘literacy gives [people] the power…to earn a brighter future’.
Before the next literacy training cycle commences in September, the trainers will increase from 400 to 800 (two teachers per class) to assist the learners with different levels, participate in a refresher course to incorporate both focus group and survey feedback from the previous cohort of learners and teachers. USAID Ejo Heza will work in partnership with ADEPR to offer support for community-based savings groups and cooperatives to provide learners opportunities to continue developing themselves and responding to available economic activities.