Bridging the Gap: Research, Policy and Practice in Women’s Literacy

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Welcome to the BAICE e-Forum on research, policy and practice in women’s literacy!

The e-Forum is a virtual space where interested organisations and individuals can interact, network and exchange ideas around adult literacy issues in the global south/developing countries. This is one of the Bridging the Gap activities sponsored by the British Association for International and Comparative Education and organised by the UK Literacy Working Group and the Literacy and Development Group of the University of East Anglia.

The purpose of the Bridging the Gap activities is to focus on how researchers and practitioners in adult learning, particularly with women, in international development can learn collaboratively from each other to support more effective adult literacy learning in the global south/developing countries. Much of the interesting and valuable work which many development organisations do is not always recognised and evidenced and thus does not inform further practice and policy. We want to bridge this gap by bringing together those working in academic research and those working in NGO/INGOs and other agencies.

From 7th to 14th of November, issues will be raised and posted every day by a different facilitator, who has long experience in the area of adult learning, literacy and development. We are delighted that eight facilitators from around the world have agreed to join the E-Forum in this role: they work in a wide range of organisations (NGOs, INGOs, universities and UNESCO) and offer differing perspectives – policy, research and/or practitioner. You are invited to give your views and share your experiences through the forum. Participation in the e-forum discussions is free and available to anyone who wishes to take part.

Please, read the STIMULUS PAPER first before accessing the forum daily pages. To access the daily forum pages, select the appropriate day link below. You may also wish to review previous discussions and cross-reference the discussions.


Network Meeting 2

This event is the last in a series arising from observations about the limited collaboration between NGOs and academics working on women’s literacy. This is organised by the UK Literacy Working Group and the British Association for Literacy in Development (BALID) and will take place on 26 November 2015 to look at the question: How can the practical activities of NGOs/INGOs and other agencies in adult learning/women’s literacy, along with their ‘grey literature’, inform the academic research community?

For further information and to register for a place, please contact the BAICE Support Officer at

To view or download the brochure for this event, click here.


Bridging the gap: research, policy and practice in women’s literacy is a BAICE-Funded Building Capacity and Networks Project organised by the UK Literacy Working Group and the Literacy and Development Group at the University of East Anglia. It comprises a series of events, two of which have already taken place.

The Quick-fire Event

The quick-fire event, “Bridging the gap: research, policy and practice in women’s literacy” was part of the UKFIET 13th International Conference on Education and Development held at the University of Oxford on the 15th of September 2015. Academic researchers, policy makers and practitioners in education and development attended the quick-fire session which was chaired by Dr. Ian Cheffy from SIL International. Presenters were Prof. Anna Robinson, Professor of Education, at the University of East Anglia, Dr. Katy Newell-Jones, Chair of the British Association for Literacy in Development (BALID), Dr. Gina Lontoc, a Visiting Fellow at the University of East Anglia, Dr. Clare Meade, Senior Associate at the National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education (NIACE), Dr. Juliet McCaffery, Secretary of BALID, and Mr. Fusheng Jia, a postgraduate researcher from the University of East Anglia. Each presenter shared their thoughts on issues surrounding women’s literacy learning and the gaps between the works carried out by academic researchers and practitioners in order to improve the construction of knowledge and the framing, dissemination and application of research findings outside academia. To view or download a full report of this event, click here.

Network Meeting 1

This event built on the first Bridging the Gap event. It was held at the University of East Anglia on 23rd of October 2015. This meeting focused on the question: How can academic research help and support agencies (NGO/INGO and government) in the field of adult learning/women’s literacy in international development? This one day event was attended by participants comprising representatives from NGOs and INGOs, donors, academics, and research students. Presentations and group discussions explored issues and gaps between academic research community and practice in the field of literacy learning and development, particularly women’s literacy learning. To view or download a full report of this event, click here.


  1. Dewan Sohrab Uddin

    Definitely the huge number of rural and urban slum illiterate and half literate women need a kind of functional literacy towards increasing their life skills abilities. It should not only be limited to acquire reading, writing and calculation skills only. Adult literacy must address the solutions for livelihood options and opportunities for economic engagements of the thousands and millions of women of the age group of 14 to 50. The women will be interested and committed to the work if their engagement become economically and socially meaningful for them and their family members.

    By such engagement the targeted women women would expect to have increased income on dailiy or monthly basis and ownership of small scale asset which they can further invest for more income and employments. By doing this the women will be in the position to participate in family’s decision making. It will further add value for increasing their personal dignity, reduce violence, abuse and physical harassment, early marriage

    The mainstream education system and resources should include and deliver non formal education system/program/approach across the country/regions to reach those are left out, dropped out and un-reached people particularly the adolescent girls and young women.

  2. Yoseph Abera

    In Ethiopia, currently we are implementing IFAE i.e Integrated Functional Adult Education. And practically there are many obstacles as far as woman’s participation in the program is concerned. The first problem is lack of attitude on the society that instead of sending them to schools they beter to rear children at home and doing home tasks than learning and the other major problem is that they all couldnt understand the vitality of the adult education program changing their lives. So what mechanisms should we use in the near future to increase access and quality to met both the national and global agendas N.B ( SDG S 2030 and others….)

  3. Temesgen

    I have read the issues raised by Thea and E-forum participants’ discussion. I am trying to digest the idea raised. The discussions are very interesting. I strongly believe that literacy empowers women if properly addressed. My concern is, however, the conception of literacy for empowering downtrodden women in developing country. In my view, giving power to women is confused with empowering women. So, how can the ultimate literacy program will be bona fide in reaching the poor women? It is still my concern.

  4. muleta

    I believe that this is an important issue of literacy under African sun shine