Compañeras: systematisation of experiences with adult literacy facilitators in Guatemala

Paluch, Marta (2019) Compañeras: systematisation of experiences with adult literacy facilitators in Guatemala. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This study explores how a small group of adult literacy facilitators (ALFs) working on a pilot literacy project in a municipality in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, develop their practice. Although many reports have discussed the problems of adult literacy work in the Global South and the shortcomings of available training, very little research has been carried out directly with ALFs, examining the processes through which they develop their educational practice.

The thesis reports on a pilot programme which took a dialogic approach inspired by the work of Paulo Freire and with an emphasis on context, meaning and social practice drawn from New Literacy Studies. Learning activities focussed on personal expression and writing as the communication of meaning. Texts for reading were produced from participant writing. The ALFs were trained and supported in implementing the new programme.

The research uses Systematisation of Experiences, a Latin American methodology linked to popular education which involves project participants in a collective process of reflection on their experiences, leading to the generation of new knowledge both of the internal dynamics of the programme and the work of the project in relation to the wider context. Bourdieu’s concepts of field, habitus, capital and doxa are used to analyse the socio-political setting in which the pilot programme was situated, observing the positions of the research participants within the field of adult literacy in Guatemala. ALFs operate at the margins of the field, subjected to the power structure of the national literacy programme while having no influence on decisions affecting their work.

The thesis traces the trajectories of the individual ALFs through the pilot programme and reports on the collaborative work which enabled the growth of trust and a joint sense of purpose. The narrative form attempts to present the multiple voices of participants in dialogue, emphasising the collective processes of knowledge generation. In spite of the difficulties of working with a radically different approach, ALFs supported each other to make important changes in their practice. They observed how participants in their groups responded to the pilot activities and began to question the
traditional methods endorsed by the organisation they worked for. Offered the space to design and develop new activities, they demonstrated the ability to make innovative interventions. However, the ALFs felt unsupported by the national adult literacy programme they work for, which has no policy or strategy to develop a professional approach to adult literacy by investing in the training and retention of ALFs. The thesis concludes with the ALFs’ views of how the organisation is failing them and what is needed to improve the provision.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC0065 Social aspects of education > LC0149 Literacy. Illiteracy
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2019 15:07
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2019 15:35

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