With a mission to empower marginalized Mbororo by MBOSCUDA, a need for a new approach to adult literacy became imperative. The major objectives of such an approach were to:
· Provide an opportunity for Mbororo who were not privileged to acquire formal education obtain a certain degree of literacy
· Systematize their existing knowledge and promote a detail analysis of local issues affecting their lives
· Provoke critical thinking among the Mbororo on daily issues surrounding their lives and to challenge cultural myths slowing their development.
· Cause Mbororo to take control of their own development agenda in their own terms and effectively bring a positive change to their lives.
· Develop self -confidence in Mbororo through empowerment acquired from learning.
To achieve these lofty objectives MBOSCUDA adapted the REFLECT APPROACH to adult literacy which challenges the old orthodox approach where the teacher only impact on the learners without considering the knowledge of the learners.
Background on REFLECT
The word REFLECT is an acronym which means ( Re-generated Frierean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques).This approach is the idea of a renounce Brazilian educator called Paulo Freire that was regenerated by a UK based organisation called Action Aid. After this approach was piloted in Elsalvador, India ,Bangladesh and Uganda, with a high degree of impact it was replicated in Cameroon by MBOSCUDA to some 30 mbororo communities with the assistance of her international partner Village Aid U.K.
In this approach adult literacy is linked to day to day realities of the learners who have much to contribute. This renders the learning like a two way traffic. It is a fuse between participatory rural appraisal (PRA) techniques and Paulo freire pedagogy of the oppressed.
Methodology of reflect
This is quite a unique learning environment as learners referred to as participants sit in a circle known as a REFLECT circle and their board on the ground where the teacher referred to in this context as the facilitator uses PRA tools to generate discussions of their interest. The facilitator is seen here as someone who only guides the process.
The material for learning is generated by the participants. The following steps are followed to guide the facilitator.
· The facilitator prepares a unit based on a theme intended to explore.
· A graphic which can take the form of maps, seasonal calendars, charts, diagrams, pictures, role play etc) is constructed in a participatory manner with the participants .This is very enjoyable as each participant will have something to say. There will be a lot of discussions guided by the facilitator. The most recurring issue or problem is noted and constitute a premise for more discussion.
· This is written down as a keyword for the day relating to the topic
· An action point is arrived at which seeks to address the major problem.
· The keyword is written down (in local dialect what they know) and serves as a source of learning for the day to what they do not know. The word is latter broken down into syllables .At this juncture the participants form and write new words in their books in their dialect .An opportunity for reading and writing.
· In the course of the discussions participants may come across countable nouns which serve as an entry point to numeracy. Participants are learning from a task that draws from their own knowledge in a relax way with a lot of humour.
· The action point to address the community worry is then taken to the wider community. This leads to a strong sense of ownership and builds self confidence in the participants.
This approach targets the minds of participants for a social change without hurting them. It is interesting to be learning by discussing problems affecting their development in their environment.
MBOSCUDA embraced REFLECT during (the growing from within project) in Donga and Mantung Division North West province of Cameroon (1998 to 2002.)
In this pilot project MBOSCUDA profiled and initiated 30 Reflect Circles in mbororo communities who identified adult literacy as their priority at that time.
These reflect circles changed the mind settings of mbororos in those communities who took control of their problems and their development in their own terms.
The multiplier effects of this work highly solicitated in the other six divisions of the province .as a response to such a crucial community 10 more reflect circles were incorporated within the province by MBOSCUDA.
With the reflect Approach MBOSCUDA has had a number of strides to foster adult literacy among Mbororo most especially women. More specifically MBOSCUDA has
- Initiated 30 functional REFLECT circles with more than 600 participants
- Identified, selected, trained and recruited 30 community facilitators to drive the process in these learning circles.
- Providing learning materials like blackboards ,chalk, exercise books, pens ,pencils etc to these circles
- The operational core staff of MBOSCUDA are all trained and are practising REFLECT. The community facilitators frequently attend refreshers to share experiences and best practices under the sponsorship of MBOSCUDA.
- Mboscuda through her very dynamic Social drama group( the SIDO FORUM) provoked attitude change among Mbororos by dramatising and exposing some cultural practices that hinder their development
- MBOSCUDA has expanded the scope of adult literacy to other provinces by supporting new reflect circles
Summarily adult literacy with the REFLECT Approach has had an immense impact in causing Mbororos to take up an active role in their own development. It is worth noting that MBOSCUDA major components like micro credit scheme, access to justice, gender end women promotion programme are all strongly anchored on REFLECT as a pivot on which learning evolves. This is actually a technique to enable non literate people to articulate their knowledge as building on this knowledge and the reality of the marginalised people must be the starting point of any effective development programme.
Impact of Reflect on Mbororo
It is important to point out that most of the participants in these reflect circles were women. Most of them confirmed to have achieved the following from the literacy
- They are now able to write their names and identify both the documents of their children and theirs
- They are now having a say in family issues like the marriage of their daughters.
- Going to hospital and clinic is becoming easier for them as they can recognise numbers and prescriptions
- Many of them can now use telephones without much assistance as they know numbers
- They can now use the weight of the their children to assess the health situation
- They can now supervise their children to do their homework when they come back from school.
- They have now improved personal hygiene and health through knowledge acquired.
- They now have business management skills through Reflect
- They now challenge negative cultural practices that impede development