Literacy for Social Change

ProLiteracy’s Literacy for Social Change model integrates learning and community improvement by teaching basic literacy skills along with critical thinking and cultural expression for individual and community action. Adult literacy plays a role in many social change efforts. Our action areas include:

  • Children’s Education
  • Economic Self-Reliance
  • Environmental
  • Health
  • Human Rights and Status of Women (Women in Literacy)
  • Peace and Conflict Resolution

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Through decades of international field experience, ProLiteracy has developed a unique tool that enables teachers and staff within community literacy programs to effectively combine literacy and cutting-edge strategies for human development and problem solving. Known as Literacy for Social Change, this method integrates four components: fundamental skills, critical thinking, cultural expression, and learner-initiated action. Using Literacy for Social Change, communities can assess their material and social needs and implement solutions to pressing local problems. The Literacy for Social Change methodology provides instructors with practical techniques that can help learners apply new skills to address problems concerning health, economic self-sufficiency, human rights, environment, and gender equity. Literacy for Social Change is an education and development process using codes (pictures or learning activities) that reflect realities from adults’ daily lives. This methodology allows learners to utilize literacy skills as a tool for empowerment. The primary mode of instruction in this session is dialogue and participatory learning.

ProLiteracy’s series of publications and training based on this methodology is titled Literacy Solutions. Our Literacy Solutions manuals enable organizations and communities to create tailored programs for local problem solving that integrate literacy and sustainable development. The eleven publications currently available are thematically focused on various areas of community development. A complete list and description of the series of manuals is included here:

Parents Are Teachers is designed for individual and group learning. Parents and caregivers can use the manual as an informative and thought-provoking study guide for generating discussion and reflection on important topics regarding care of children from ages zero through three. It focuses on activities to stimulate healthy development. Each two-page unit includes a full-page drawing and a matched page of text that includes insightful group discussion questions, key vocabulary words, and short statements summarizing important ideas from current field practice and research.

Good Health Begins at Home is a tool designed to help parents and health professionals become partners in advancing family health. This manual highlights issues and information that all families need to consider to prevent disease, treat illness, and advance wellness and safety. While all families can benefit from this manual, it is particularly aimed at families in communities where needs are great and resources are limited. The units within the manual also include preventative and curative measures.

How To Start Your Own Business is a tool and guide for micro-finance, literacy, and development teachers and facilitators, and is particularly structured to stimulate dialogue and community learning on a group level. Five general sections within this manual present material to generate discussion and reflection on important topics regarding micro-finance and its relation to learners’ needs, interests, and priorities.

Literacy in Action enables service organizations and communities to create tailored literacy programs for local problem solving. This manual focuses on the techniques and perspectives needed to teach reading and writing while advancing community development.

Overcoming AIDS is a practical guide to learn effective strategies for prevention, control, and treatment of HIV/AIDS. The units within the manual generate discussion on the ABC’s of AIDS prevention, the important role of schools in educating youth, various AIDS related issues, and the treatment and caring for those impacted by AIDS.

Choosing to Live HIV/AIDS Free is a brief discussion guide intended to provide HIV/AIDS discussion ideas for parents/caregivers and children.

Human Rights in Daily Life places special emphasis on advancing and understanding the practice of human rights among socially marginalized groups. This manual encourages learners to become aware of key human rights concerns, identify local practices that may interfere with human rights, explore the everyday implications of protecting human rights, and take action to promote good governance in their homes, communities, and nations.

Building Peace in Your Community is a guide for transforming conflict and practicing peace.

Earth Connections is a tool designed to help adults and older youth advance understanding and practice of sustainable environmental principles.

Village Banks Working Together is our hybrid manual, which compiles units from the first nine manuals.

Strengthening Democracy through Education is a guide for engaging youth and adults in civic participation and local leadership. This manual is particularly focused on women, and it encourages learners to use literacy as a way to make decisions, advocate for change, and promote democracy.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the manuals listed, please contact our International Programs Department or