Early in May of this year, the first cohort of Lit Initiative beneficiaries had their end of session event in Malindi, Kilifi County. The Lit Initiative is an organisation based in Malindi, Kilifi County, whose focus is on functional literacy for all members of society, especially the youth.
Over the course of eight weeks, Lit Initiative, supported by The Open Institute, educated 18 students on the functional literacy subsets of literacy and numeracy, financial literacy, civic literacy, digital literacy and life skills. At the point of graduation on the 7th of May, 2022, 12 students successfully finished the programme. This translates to 67% of the initial group, a success rate that is commendable considering first that this was the first activity of its kind and second that most of the participants who did not finish the programme left because of matters beyond our control.
The students, composed entirely of youths who had finished their secondary school education but who had not had the chance to further their education benefited greatly from the discourse.
What the students had to say
“Before I started coming for the Lit training, I would never have stood before a group of people and introduced myself, let alone speak about what I think, however, now, I am able to contribute to public discussions and stand in front of people to share what’s on my mind.”— Student, Lit Initiative
“I am leaving this place having learnt how important it is for me to take part in helping the government make more informed decisions on public development. This is all because of the civic literacy sessions that I attended at the Lit training”— Student, Lit Initiative
“I am very thankful for the time and effort that the Lit trainers and Madam Jackie put into molding us to be better people in the society. The training we received here at Lit will not only help us but will also help very many people as we intend to go out there and share what we have learnt here with our peers who did not have the opportunity to attend these sessions with us.”— Student, Lit Initiative
“I was never able to express myself in English, but now, as you can all witness, I am able to stand in front of people and speak in this language that before was very difficult for me. I owe this growth to Lit and the empowerment they have given us in this 8 week period.”— Student, Lit Initiative
Jackie Mungai herself was very emotional at the event. Seeing the first cohort graduate from her organization was a milestone for her and for Lit Initiative. A year ago, it had all been just an idea, but now, actual lives were being changed and impacted because of the work that she and the various partners, not forgetting the students, had put in.
“I want everyone to know that it is possible to change people’s lives through functional literacy especially in communities and societies where conventional formal education is still largely inaccessible to a great percentage of the population.”
~ Jackie Mungai, Founder, Lit Initiative
In her opinion, the training that just ended was very successful in spite of the various challenges they faced during the training period. The intention of Lit Initiative is to transition into training the second cohort of students, given how much work lies ahead, however, the biggest challenge they faced was that of resources. She expressed their desire to get more partners on board on the project in order to improve the quality of training as well as the number of students that they can train at any given time.
To mark the end of the training period, Lit Initiative planned a color festival for the students and the various stakeholders including Thellesi Trust, The Green Halo Initiative and The Open Institute.
Some of the moments captured at the very colorful festival held at the Open Institute Maono Hub, Malindi, Kilifi County to mark the end marked the end of the successful training programme at Lit Initiative
At the end of the event, there was a period of reflections that became very emotional with both the students and the stakeholders sharing their thoughts on how the successful outcomes of the programme. Al Kags, Founder and Executive Director at the Open Institute, Al Kags, spoke about the good fortune that is obtained from diligence and sacrifice. The students had spent their resources; mostly hard earned, to come for the training everyday for 8 weeks which was no small feat on their part. He assured them that the sacrifice they had given was not in vain and would eventually pay off.
The Open Institute is currently in advanced talks with Sanergy to find internship opportunities for the 12 graduated students. This would provide them with a platform to launch their careers and would also serve to prove that functional literacy, even without advanced conventional education, is essential and sufficient to provide an individual with the capacity to develop themselves and the community at large.
As outlined in the blog “Barriers to Citizen Engagement” by Al Kags, the Open Institute is actively advocating for the non-profit sector to extend the CSO umbrella to cover up to and including local CBOs as they are the best vehicles to drive societal change. Lit Initiative and the other CBOs mentioned in the blog are essentially OIs incubation stage for this agenda.
The fact that this training was successful means that there is now qualitative support for the efficacy of the idea and enough reason to release more resources to this experiment.
Congratulations to the Lit Initiative Cohort One!