Learning in Central Turkana is a dream yet to come true.
Lack of schools in the sub-county has increased levels of illiteracy. Mothers are not able to analyse information on their clinic cards because they can’t even read a word and so they don’t know when to next visit clinics. Young girls get married off at a tender age hence they have to handle responsibilities they are not prepared for.
For most people, reading and writing is basic. However, this is a major problem for the people living in Turkana as the levels of illiteracy are very high. Education remains a dream that residents are longing for so as to improve their livelihoods.
Turkana is the second largest County by land mass in Kenya and is considered one of the poorest with 88% of the people living below the poverty line compared with 45% nationally. Illiteracy levels are high with only half of the school going children being enrolled nationally below the national average of 95% report, 2018 by Charity Save the Children. The adult literacy rate in the county is at 20%.
Bible Society of Kenya has responded to the illiteracy issue among Turkana women by beginning literacy classes where people can learn. An empowerment workshop for literacy teachers was held in Lodwar to train teachers so that they may train others in Turkana County.
The workshop was attended by literacy teachers who will ultimately teach adult learners in the marginalized areas in turkana and its environs. The twelve day intensive training was done in partnership with Summer Institute of Linguistics consultants who played a crucial role in developing the turkana learning materials as well as conducting the teachers training. Mr. Bernard Oketch, a government official from the Directorate of Adult and Continuing Education Turkana County attended the training and spoke on the characteristics of an adult teacher.
The teachers were equipped with knowledge and skills on how help the learners use the Ngaturkana learner’s primer, pronounce syllables and read comprehension stories. Further training included teaching adult learners to apply life-skills, conduct income generating activities, nutritional enhancement, proper hygiene standards, and environmental conservation that will help improve their lives.
In July 2018, a community based literature development workshop was held to develop supplementary readers’ materials that will help in addressing issues affecting the Turkana community. The workshop brought together seven Turkana professional writers who developed 30 stories from different genres such as folk stories, moral stories, Bible stories and information stories.
A follow up visit was done in the different learning centres in Turkana County namely; Kangagetei, AIC Lolupe, Lokaparaparae, Soweto KAG, Lorengippi, Namoruputh, Napeded, Turkwel and Loborot.
Despite the hot weather, learners are very excited about acquiring basic education. The classes have more than 250 learners who are mainly young girls and women who have never gone to school. The teachers are working tirelessly to ensure that learners acquire skills and education in their mother tongue so that in future they will read the Bible.
Majority of the learners are now able to run their businesses, transact through the mobile phones, improve their health status by observing proper nutritional care and help Pastors in evangelizing to their fellow community members.
“I am a pastor of the ACK Kapua church and I have never gone to school though I can read in Ngaturkana language. My biggest challenge is writing. When I received information that Bible Society of Kenya is starting a class in my church, I was excited that God had answered my prayers. I mobilized people in my area especially women to come and learn. I believe that the knowledge we are acquiring will change people’s lives in our village. On a daily basis I help the teacher to follow up with the learners especially when they have gone to graze in the fields because the biggest challenge is food and water for the animals and individuals. My desire is to see a generation that is empowered with the Word of God and positively transformed lives as a result of the acquired knowledge.” Estiglan Naomi – ACK Kapua learning center
We trust that this literacy project will bring positive transformation in the learner’s lives, help them make informed decisions and choices, reduce gender misrepresentation in leadership roles and reduce 10% of infant mortality rates among children below 5 years.
Bible Society of Kenya thanks her donor the Finnish Bible Society for enabling women and men in Africa to attain literacy skills.