UN World Food Programme

Sudanese Women Get Second Shot At Literacy

Khadija writes her name on the blackboard.

(Copyright: WFP/Rachid Jaafar) 

Many girls in rural Sudan fail to get far with their education because they marry early or their parents need them to help put food on the table at home. In the north Kordofan state, WFP is helping 55 women to make up for lost time and become literate in six months.

ABU GAWOD -- “It took me just 40 days, instead of three months, to learn how to read and write,” says Khadija Hassan Adam with a big smile. To prove it, she goes to the blackboard and writes her name in beautiful Arabic handwriting. Then she adds her friend’s name underneath.

Khadija is one of 55 women, some as old as 62, who are making a remarkable effort to become literate in six months. They attend classes five times a week at the Abu Gawod Centre for Literacy Training, about a one-hour drive from El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan.

"Never miss a class"

“I never miss a class,” says Khadija, “because if I do, first, I will lose an opportunity to learn new things and it would be difficult to catch up. Second, I will not get my food ration for the day.”

The food ration supplied by WFP as part of this ‘Food for Training’ programme puts much-needed food on the table at Khadija’s home and saves the family a great deal of time -- time that would otherwise be spent looking for food.

“My husband is very encouraging and we are spending more time together at home. I feel I am hitting two birds with one stone,” she says. “I get free education and I get food for my family.”

Reading, writing, health, child care

Daily food ration

The Food for Training programme in which Khadija takes part provides the women with rations consisting of:
>450 grams of wheat
>50 grams of pulses
>30 grams of oil
>30 grams of sugar
>10 grams of salt.

The programme, which started last January, is implemented with WFP’s partner SOME and the Department of Adult Education in North Kordofan. It enables the women enrolled to read and write in Arabic but also provides them with awareness on the importance of hygiene, health, and proper child care.

The literacy classes have been so successful that the committee members running the centre gave in to the demands of other women who wanted to join programme. Three other classes were soon formed.

“Please make sure to come back for our graduation ceremony in July!” shouted Khadija as our car pulled away from the school yard and headed back to El Obeid. I gave her a thumbs up sign to show that I would. 

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