For some time Dawn has been burdened for those Zambians who have never had a chance to attend school and learn how to read. The vast majority of these are women. Most of these women do not know English well and are only proficient in their mother tongue. Defining literacy is difficult and coming up with good statistics on literacy is just as hard, but UNICEF estimates only 61% of adult Zambians are literate (2012), with illiteracy much higher among women than men.
Dawn has worked on learning some of the basics of Bemba, the dominant Bantu language in Zambia, and has been seeking for a way to teach the ladies in our churches how to read in their own language with the goal of teaching them to read the Bible for themselves. She found a set of Bemba adult literacy primers that was developed several decades ago, but it was badly in need of reworking. During our last term in Zambia (2009-2013), Dawn took three groups of ladies through this curriculum, revising it as she went. To this set of three primers, now thoroughly revised, she has added a workbook and a teacher’s guide. It is possible to take illiterate, Bemba-speaking adults, with no learning disabilities, and have them reading their Bemba Bibles in 60 lessons (about 3-5 months), depending upon how often the classes meet.
Dawn’s plans for the next term (2014-2018) involve holding workshops in various parts of the country, with three primary goals in mind. The first objective is to teach others in our churches how they can set up an adult literacy program that will enable their non-reading members to learn to read their Bibles. A second, equally important outcome, is to promote the concept of literacy classes as an effective evangelistic outreach to the community, as the focus of the third primer is on the life of Jesus and how He came to save us. A third benefit involves helping in the training of leadership for our churches. We have a number of rural church leaders who cannot read and write. Enabling them to read will give them the ability to take the CLTI courses and become officially recognized as pastors and church leaders. Dawn held a literacy workshop in Luwingu in May 2013, and the local pastor has since told us that this May (2014) there were some graduates of the literacy course now attending the leadership classes.
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