The Road to Literacy: The Story of Rose Ekitwi

Rose Ekitwi

Afrinspire supports Functional Adult Literacy programmes (FALs) which embody the spirit of empowerment, teaching:

‘literacy and life skills aiming to move you out of abject poverty’.

Previously, we have focused on four trial groups, developing a successful strategy and assessing our impact. We are now looking to extend the programme.

As with women’s work cooperatives, the leaders of literacy groups are in a unique position to inspire and support their members.

Rose Ekitwi is one such role model.

Rose lived in Buwalasi, Uganda, until her father was murdered when she was just seven. She was sent to live with her aunt who would not allow her to attend school, causing her to grow up illiterate.

When she married a pastor and undertook Church duties, members of her church helped her with her literacy. Her major breakthrough came, though, when her husband was invited to work in Tanzania. In her role as a pastor’s wife she was invited to attend various courses in which she finally learnt to read and write. 

Later, however, Rose’s husband was tragically murdered. She knew who committed the crime, but was unable to bring them to justice as she was the only witness.

She continued her work in the Church, becoming increasingly aware of how many women shared similar experiences of illiteracy and beginning to teach them herself.

Although the Ugandan government has taken steps to combat the problem, the resources they produce are often over-complicated, and with many women being humiliated in their classes attendance is low. But Rose has a personal understanding of these women’s situations, allowing her to develop a more successful approach.

Her own experience of illiteracy has given her a real passion in this area. To date she has set up over 60 women’s literacy groups, supporting women from around 1200 families. The groups, often in the poorest and most remote areas, are truly useful: as one visitor, Clara, put it:

"I discovered that the women’s literacy groups were learning how to keep chickens, not [just] to recite the alphabet".

In 2005 Rose came to England for the Baptist World Alliance Congress and met Ian Sanderson of Afrinspire, sowing the seed for a partnership with Afrinspire. We have since supported her in funding the valuable work she does and extending it to an even wider audience.

Value for money: The basic course typically costs £1,000 per year. With 11 to 20 leaders, groups may support 200 to 400 learners who have households with family populations of at least 5. So, 1000 to 2000 people are impacted per year for £1000, or 50p to £1 per person, with the standard of living rising for all.

What you can do

- It costs just £45 per adult to cover the costs of the first module and learn to read.

- The newest FAL programme will cost £2000 in total to set up.

- We also need to raise funds to support the costs of running these 20 new groups, costing £415 for all the materials needed to run one FAL group.

Visit our donations or fundraising pages to see how you can help

Rose (centre) with Burundi women