- Richard Stack
- New Haven, CT
- United States
Improving female literacy in the maternal language as a significant contribution to helping women to control their fertility
Literacy is the ability to decode and encode the language you already know. In the "advanced" world it is taken for granted. In the "Third World" it is not; most established institutions insisting on teaching the lingua franca, or the colonial language, or English, rather than the languages people actually speak..
This practice produces an inevitably secondrate literacy, (and thus an underclass,) for all but the most gifted and wealthy, for it involves learning a new language at the same time as alphabetical coding and decoding, rather than, as in the developed world, one AFTER the other,
Making the transition to literacy in a language you don't ALREADY know is a mistake, since it abandons the obvious idea that you can hear what you are reading. It means that you are condemned to exerting yourself at great length to master the colonial/national language and its systems, or to flounder about in a language of which you know only the most rudimentary parts, and probably none of the idioms, thus permanently marking out your "class" and making any real literacy in that language highly unlikely
Female literacy is, as much research shows, the SOLE conistent correlate to drops in fertility. Worldwide, they march together (see Connelly, Fatal Misconception, a magisterial history of the brutal, forcible and misguided efforts by governments and NGOs at birth control).
The answer, then, for those .concerned to remedy the disempowerment of a large proportion of women in relation to family planning, is to promote literacy in the maternal language, the mother tongue. And, therefore, to devise a program readily translatable into ANY alphabetic language, to be offered to women who show up to neo-natal clinics, designed so that any native speaker of the given language could readily supply the local elements of the program. This program would spread (like TED) like wildfire.
It would be a perfect embodiment of the global mission of the Gates Foundation.