UKZN presented two practically orientated workshops in Uganda recently on writing, editing and publishing stories for adult new readers.

Dr Elda Lyster and Ms Sonya Keyser of New Readers Publishers (NRP) at the Centre for Adult Education at UKZN ran the workshops which formed part of a wider Department of International Development (DFID) partnership in Higher Education project aimed to teach participants to use ethnographic research methods to make adult literacy learning more relevant and interesting to adult learners.

The writing workshops were for adult educators, librarians and aspirant local language writers from Uganda and Ethiopia. There were 27 participants writing in six languages.

The “train-the-trainer” workshops were based on an experiential model of learning in which participants learned “by doing” so that they could use what they learned with their own groups of learners or other adult educators.

The product of the writing and editing workshops will result in a publication later this year of 17 titles in four Ugandan languages - Luo, Lugbara, Luganda and English - and 10 titles in two Ethiopian languages - Amharic and Oromiffa.

According to Keyser, Project Manager at NRP, the books published in Uganda are in dual-text format (the local language and English) so they can be used to learn to read and write in English as well.

All the books were illustrated by a Ugandan illustrator, Mr Abeine Abdul Adam. ‘Abdul produced illustrations of a very high standard in record time and he did the design and layout of the books. The printing was done in Uganda,’ said Keyser.

The books were launched in Kampala in December last year by the Ugandan Commissioner for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mr Tumwesigye Everest, who expressed his Ministry’s interest in forming a partnership with a local NGO the Ugandan Adult Education Network (UGAADEN) to print enough copies to ensure that the books were widely available in Ugandan libraries, adult literacy classes and schools.

In Ethiopia 10 000 copies of each of the books are being printed for the Transforming Education for Adults and Children in the Hinterlands (TEACH) projects which service 70 000 Ethiopians. The books will be translated into other Ethiopian languages.

‘It was a tough project – challenging in terms of volume and tight deadlines and complicated by the distance between partners and unwieldy financial systems,’ said Keyser.

‘I am proud of the fact that the books have actually been published – against all odds. They are the first of their kind in Uganda and Ethiopia and both countries have concrete plans to write and publish more in the future, using what they have learned.’

author email : Mungroo@ukzn.ac.za