71. A proper signature
“We have learned how to spell our names. We are no longer ashamed. Now we can use the pen instead of marking papers with our thumbprint,” explain Alberta Toilee and Mary Horpoe from Liberia. The two women, like so many Liberians, did not go to school because of the long-lasting civil war. The war left about 70 per cent of the adult population illiterate.
The Finnish Refugee Council has helped establish a literacy programme in Liberia, and 30,000 people, most of them women, have learned how to read and write in 2011–2016. Literacy groups have also been created to help people learn everyday skills. During the Ebola outbreak, for example, the group members learned life-saving skills of how to protect against Ebola. Literacy improves people’s self-esteem, helps them found small businesses and give parents better opportunities to support their children’s schooling. The Liberian Ministry of Education recommends that the literacy programme and its educational material be used in adult education at national level. Finland supports the work of the Finnish Refugee Council from development cooperation funds.
Photo: Finnish Refugee Council, graphics Juho Hiilivirta