SGI-Brazil Educators Promote Literacy Education
During February and March 2007, the SGI-Brazil (BSGI) Education Department held instructors' training seminars for its 150 Adult Literacy Education Program volunteers in the four Brazilian cities of São Paulo, Mogi das Cruzes, Ribeirão Preto and Ponta Grossa. The training seminars were held to review and improve the program to ensure that 2007 participants can develop solid reading and comprehension skills and further cultivate their unique abilities to contribute to society. The instructors divide themselves among 25 classes that meet regularly at six venues.
Since 1987, the BSGI Education Department has promoted literacy through its Adult Literacy Education Program that teaches reading and writing to adults who were not able to complete their primary education--among the millions of Brazilians who are considered "functionally illiterate." Originally developed with an aim to support BSGI members with poor reading skills in their study of Nichiren Buddhism, the reading and writing classes are open to other residents in the local communities. Each course is 40 hours long and covers subjects taught in the first four years of elementary education. Certified teachers and assistants, who are all volunteers and members of BSGI, conduct the classes for adult learners, whose ages range from 19 through 92. Those completing the course receive a certificate equivalent to finishing elementary school, approved by states or cities. During the past 20 years, well over 5,000 people have completed the program, and some have gone on to higher education.
Maria da Conceição do Nascimento Santos de Oliveira, 45, one of the program's early students, went on to receive a bachelors' degree in education after completing the literacy course. Today, she works as a teacher in the Nagib Izar state school in São Paulo and also volunteers her time at the BSGI Adult Literacy Education Program. "As someone who benefited from the literacy program, I'm happy to be able to repay my debt of gratitude by supporting it," says Ms. Oliveira.
[Adapted from a BSGI report]