Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) study groups in Ethiopia began operating in April 2021. The study groups are part of the Finnish Refugee Council’s Adult Education project. The training’s are targeted for refugees from the Jewi camp in the Gambella Region, as well as members of the nearby host communities. An estimated 1,200 people, most of them refugees, participate in Functional Adult Literacy training. In addition, the Finnish Refugee Council will train more than 50 peer facilitators. The actual education is organized in smaller study groups, of which there are a total of 42.
Literacy and numeracy are the foundation of individual and communal well-being, equality and economic development. These skills provide the basic knowledge to livelihood and help people to rise out of poverty at both the individual and community levels.
The importance of adult education is emphasized among the nearly 55,000 South Sudanese refugees living in the Jew refugee camp, many of whom are illiterate. South Sudan has the third lowest literacy rate in the world – only 27 percent. Only 16 percent of South Sudanese women can read and write.
“One of the goals for the study groups by FRC is to support and empower women and other vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities. Disability-inclusive curriculum in Functional Adult Literacy was developed by local consultants from the Universities of Addis Ababa and Ambo, who have specialized in Special Needs Education”, says Lotta Kinnunen, the FRC’s Country Director of Ethiopia.
Refugees and members of host communities have also been involved in the development of the educational content. In Functional Literacy Training, learning is linked to everyday lives of the students and covers topics such as hygiene, nutrition, and the environment. The education is organized in the students’ own mother tongue, which provides the best potential for learning.
The prevention of COVID-19 has been taken into account in the organization of study groups. FRC reduces group sizes and distributes face masks, hand sanitizer, mobile hand washing facility and liquid soap for students. Ethiopia is the FRC’s most recent country of operation abroad. FRC first project started in September 2020 in Gambella Region, which is located in the South West of the country, borders of South Sudan. The region hosts more than 350,000 South Sudanese refugees in 7 different camps.