A journey in family literacy : investigation into influences on the development of an approach to family literacy
Desmond, Alethea Snoeks
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In this critical reflective self study I have examined the Family Literacy Project (FLP) to determine the influences that contributed to the development of an approach to family literacy. This study responds to the question What influences contributed to the development of an approach to family literacy relevant to the needs of families in rural KwaZulu Natal? By identifying and exploring and critically reflecting on these influences I provide insights that can inform policy and practice in the adult education and early childhood development sectors in South Africa. The study includes my critical reflections on finding a voice within a self study and how this has contributed towards the development of a methodology. In the process, I have developed a deeper understanding and appreciation of what has been achieved in the FLP during the first eight years under my directorship, and why. In the study, I report on these insights. The FLP project in this study is situated in deeply rural KwaZulu Natal, where the existing extensive knowledge base is almost exclusively oral, and informed by well established insights, understandings and values. In this context, I have examined the roles of families, adult literacy and early childhood development to establish their impact on the development of literacy in families. Through critical reflection, I then identified the principles – active learning, holistic development, community and children‟s rights – underpinning the FLP and was able to establish how these impacted on the development and success of the project. I then examined the roles, practices and characteristics of the FLP facilitators, and the experiences of facilitators and those who engaged in the project. I also looked at the roles played by the community, the external evaluators, and the effect of exposure of the project in the public domain through attendance at iv conferences, publication of journal articles, and awards made to the project because of its successes. I conclude the study by suggesting how the insights from the study might provide support for others engaged in such initiatives and indicating how the topic may be further investigated.