Peer knowledge exchange and learning
20 women participating in REFLECT adult literacy classes in Narok County visited Chache Community-Based Centre, Thurdibuoro Learning Resource Centre and Nyando Community-Based Organization in Nyando in Kisumu County. The objective of the exposure visits was to give the learners from Narok an opportunity to get insights into not only learning about the management of REFLECT circles, but also about doing sustainable businesses and improving their livelihoods from their peers in Kisumu.
Using the REFLECT learning approach, the Kenya programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) has been implementing an adult literacy project in Narok County since October 2017. The adult literacy classes are under a 3-year project (2017- 2019) funded by Bread for the World, covering Naikarra, Siana and Ilomtiok Wards. The goal is to contribute to sustainably improved livelihoods and social and economic participation for the pastoralist community in Maasai Mara.
They women visited other adult learning classes that have evolved from being only literacy and numeracy classes, to being enterprise hubs with activities ranging from farming to table banking.
The first stop was at the Chache Centre. Chache members are engaged in activities such as dressmaking, farming (maize, groundnuts and beans) and livestock production. “Given the challenge of food and income insecurity in this area, we are working together with Chache members to find sustainable solutions as a community. We want communities become self-reliant,” said Community Facilitator Senkele Johnstone.
“Seeing how Chache Centre group members are using the knowledge and skills acquired from their literacy and numeracy classes to run their businesses and try out new business ideas has really motivated us,” said learner 22-year-old mother of two Purity Nkoyo from Narok. “I now appreciate that education is good because it is exposing us to many opportunities. I felt the desire to learn how to read and write from an early age. My biggest challenge was not being able to write or count or express myself in Swahili.”
34-year-old mother of six Nairochi Koikai from Narok echoes her sentiments. “Seeing what other adult learners are able to achieve is encouraging to us because it shows that we did not make a mistake when we started going to school late in life. We can still see some of our dreams come true for us and our families. I really wanted to know how to read. I was totally dependent on my husband. I once travelled alone and we were given keys to our rooms. We went out and when we returned I wasn’t able to locate my room because I didn’t how to read. Now that I am literate I can care for myself.”
Next they visited the Thurdibuoro Learning Resource Centre, a school with 109 learners (97 female and 12 male). “We began with only 10 members in 1998. I am excited to see this growth. At this Centre our learners benefit from adult literacy classes and engage in business ventures such as farming, table banking and school uniform tailoring,” says Centre co-founder Jane Adoyo. She has been a part-time teacher at the Centre since its inception.
The last stop was a visit to Nyando CBO Learning Centre. “We are engaged in literacy classes, child day care services, basket making and farming. There is also an ICT centre under development for youth in the area to gain digital skills. The goal of all these initiatives is to improve the livelihoods of our members,” said adult literacy instructor Ida Odero. “Many women were illiterate and couldn’t sign or write their names. They are engaged in businesses but could not give change and suffered a lot of income losses as they didn’t know how to manage their accounts They were unable to evaluate whether they had made a profit or not. I have noticed a change in how the women now conduct their businesses. They are now keeping records and can keep track of their business.”
“Through participation in this CBO I have gotten knowledge that has helped me to maximize my agricultural production. I could not use my phone. I could not receive calls, make calls or even write text messages. But now I can read the numbers. Now I can even participate in table banking and have learnt how to keep records and I can say that I now manage my business better, “ said Joel Chiaga Kaguma from Nyando, a rice, maize and potatoes farmer and learner at the centre.
AAH-I Ereto 2 REFLECT Circle facilitator Steven Karbolo says that exposure visits help adult learners to relate with the experiences, lessons and challenges of their peers. They are able to relate to other people’s ventures. “The women in Kisumu County have been using their own resources and making a living with little outside help. I hope that this inspires the learners from Narok County. Through the literacy classes I have seen them progressively understand numbers and counting, which is making their business management a lot easier.”