Archer, D.

Using PRA for a radical new approach to adult literacy

Outlines the REFLECT method, a new approach to adult literacy techniques developed by ActionAid. REFLECT stands for Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques. The approach seeks to build on Freirian theory but provide a more effective methodology by drawing on PRA visualisation methods. Initial observations are that REFLECT is keeping learners motivated, teaching them literacy more effectively and linking literacy to wider development based on the agenda of local communities.

Action research report on REFLECT : Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques : the experiences of three REFLECT pilot projects in Uganda, Bangladesh and El Salvador

This document is an ACTIONAID report on the two-year REFLECT program that was piloted in villages in Bangladesh, El Salvador, and Uganda. The REFLECT program is founded on the principles of Paulo Freire's philosophy of conscientisation and was aimed to promote active dialogue and empowerment among the participants. The report discusses the theoretical roots of the program, the methods that were used with REFLECT, and evaluations of the various projects in the previously mentioned countries.


The bulletin starts with an introductory article on the evolution of REFLECT (Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques), which combines the Freirean approach to literacy with PRA. The teaching methods used in what is called a REFLECT circle (class) are described. Based on the result of the pilot projects, the article claims that REFLECT approach has been proved successful and cost-effective in teaching people to read and write and in enabling people to link literacy with wider developmental issues.

PRA and Literacy Update : Evaluating empowerment and the impact of the pilot projects

The ActionAid pilot projects linking literacy and PRA (see ActionAid, 1994) are soon to be evaluated. As empowerment is one of the central objectives of the new approach, a key issue is how do we measure empowerment? Matrices and semi-structured interviews form the basis of the evaluation which will be developed with the literacy learners. For example, matrices to measure community actions initiated through the literacy programme, participation of women in household decisions and children's education.

Reflect and gender: can the new literacy methodology contribute to women's empowerment?

This short article discusses the gender implications of the REFLECT adult literacy methodology. In REFLECT literacy circles provide a space where a topic of interest to both women and men is analyzed in an open-ended but well focused discussion, rooted in their own experiences. An evaluation of the three pilots of the REFLECT methodology which are being carried out in Uganda, Bangladesh and El Salvador found encouraging first results. Women reported being treated with more respect by men because they are attending literacy circles.

Pra and literacy update : he Usulutan pilot : innovations in process

The pilot PRA and literacy project in Usulutan, El Salvador, has faced difficulty mobilising active participation : many people now say they 'no longer want to talk about their problems but would rather have some concrete solutions!' Methodologically one of the biggest problems faced has been 'the separation of the PRA methods from the practice of reading and writing'. To counter this tendency, 'generative' words have now been abolished so that the emphasis is on whole words that appear on the maps, 'not routinely broken into syllables'.

Literacy for Bundibugyo: A Training Manual

This manual has been developed for facilitators working on ActionAid's pilot literacy programme in Bundibugyo, Uganda. Following on from the Freirian model of literacy teaching, the programme has introduced PRA techniques to strengthen the discussion stage. Rather than having a literacy primer, the course is based on thirty units each of which uses a specific PRA technique (eg Hungry Season Calendar) together with visual "symbol cards" to generate discussion. Each unit includes an information section (eg how to build a maize store) and details on how to teach the key word.

Literacy and Numeracy Training Manual: ActionAid Bhola

This manual has been developed for facilitators working on ActionAid's pilot literacy programme on Bhola Island, Bangladesh. PRA activities are used to stimulate discussion and introduce opportunities for using literacy and numeracy skills. A socio-mathematical survey was conducted in the area to determine the kinds of mathematics that should be covered. Many activities are around ActionAid's savings and credit programme.

The Changing Roles of NGOs in the Field of Education (in the context of changing relationships with the state)

Case-studies of basic education programmes in El Salvador, Bangladesh, India and Uganda illustrate how NGOs can operate in relation to Government. ActionAid, a British NGO, is now piloting the use of PRA and visual "symbol cards" within literacy programmes. The Bundibugyo project in Uganda is described in detail to show how a literacy curriculum can be developed through PRA techniques, introducing key words through activities such as construction of a health calendar.