Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

literacy for what - military style

A colleague sent me a link to this story about the Awakening movement. The Awakening movement is a literacy project sponsored by the U.S. military in Iraq.

It seems that the name of the project is another example of military hyperbole:

This literacy project is part of a pilot program set up by the U.S. military and designed to provide basic literacy skills to some 500 of these young men. ...

The ultimate objective, ...is to enable them to pass a basic literacy test that would make them eligible to join the Iraqi security forces. ...

Dr. Ala Mekki, who heads the education committee in the Iraqi parliament, says the Iraqi government is serious about educating these men. "Yes," says Mekki, "it is a serious desire, and we want to educate them and make them ready to be integrated into the Iraqi army and Iraqi security forces and Ministry of Interior."

Is the goal of this movement really an Awakening or is this just more expansive language used to describe a literacy program that actually has a fairly narrow focus and will be measured against a very specific, government-centred set of outcomes?

Not that I have not asked a similar question in a similar situation before. One of my first literacy jobs involved working with former Iraqi soldiers in a literacy and settlement program. We were concerned that most of these men left our program for low-paying jobs with little longterm security. In terms of our funding mandate, these students were considered to be success stories. We hoped that even this was better for them than the chaos and violence they had left behind. I wonder what they would have chosen if the Awakening movement had existed after the first Gulf War? I wonder why the choices continue to be so limited and not really choices at all?

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