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Life | Lines in the Dust

In a small village in northern Ghana, a group of men and women sit around in a semi-circle, discussing the chart they’ve drawn in the dust – three columns, showing the hours in the day, and the different tasks men and women undertake during those hours. It soon becomes clear that the women undertake the most labour intensive work – fetching water and firewood, cleaning and preparing food – and the discovery sparks a lively debate about why men can’t take on more ‘women’s’ work. In this Muslim village, it’s a radical move for men and women to sit down and debate together to begin with. This programme also visits the eastern ghats of India, where literacy programmes have led to women voicing their opinions and becoming part of the democratic voice of their village. The project, known as Reflect, reaches out to 900 million illiterate adults across the world, who’ve been failed by conventional education. Reflect is part of a radical approach to learning for adults that doesn’t rely on importing textbooks from the outside world, but where everything is created by the participants themselves. Charts and other home-made tools act as a stepping-stone towards reading, writing and number-work – and introduce learners to the concept that the marks they copy onto paper can represent not just words, but ideas – and their own plans for change.

 

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