Twenty-two people from Bourke and Enngonia are about to graduate from the first intake of the Yes I Can adult literacy campaign classes. This new way of learning literacy for adults originated in Cuba and now operates in 28 countries round the world.
It came to Bourke and Enngonia after a successful trial last year in Wilcannia. Now it is set to spread further across the region. Jack Beetson, the national campaign coordinator, is overjoyed at the success in Bourke and Enngonia.
He says the secret is that the model uses local people as teachers: “It's not just locals learning from locals, but family learning from family, so they understood each other, they had an empathy with each other... that you just don't get otherwise."
The students watch DVDs in class, where they see another group of students, from the island of Grenada in the Caribbean, learning to read and write. Then they do the same exercises as the Grenadian students. Raymond Barker from Enngonia said: “I really liked watching the DVDs because it was fun.”
Another student agreed: “The DVDs put a smile on my face. It’s awesome.”
Stephanie Gillan from Enngonia wants to be a teacher. She has been inspired by Yes I Can. She said: “I learnt so much to help me teach and help my kids with their homework as they get older.”
Students are as young as 17, and the oldest ones are in their early 1960s. Sisters, brothers, cousins, aunties and uncles, all are working together. Mary Edwards, who coordinates the campaign in Enngonia and is one of the community facilitators, said this is just the beginning: “After we finish Yes I Can, we go on to post literacy. We’ll start with computers and then other activities to keep improving. Today’s readers are tomorrow’s leaders, that’s what we say.”
Now that the first groups have shown that the model works well here, Bourke will have another group starting class on November 25.