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Evaluating a Faith-Based Adult Literacy Program
Bolivia
May – September 2003

South America MapIn 2002, USAID awarded a cooperative agreement to Alfalit International, a faith-based nonprofit, to implement adult literacy activities in Bolivia and Angola. BEPS was asked to evaluate the Alfalit Bolivia program.

The evaluation found that literacy students in Bolivia are learning to read, write and do basic arithmetic in about 9-10 months. Alfalit has successfully instilled in students the concept that literacy is not an end in and of itself, but rather a means to increase their skills. As a result of participating in Alfalit courses, students’ feelings and attitudes reflected increased self-esteem and confidence, a recognition of the importance and value of education, a desire to grow and get ahead in the future, and improved gender relations. Many students said they were now able to speak without fear in public, were helping their children with homework, encouraging friends and family to study, and actively participating in their communities. School attendance of literacy students’ children also improved.

Implementing a USAID project has required Alfalit Boliviano’s transformation from a small, faith-based organization to a more modern NGO partner. The evaluation recommended that, rather than trying to fulfill the explosion of demand for new literacy centers, Alfalit should focus on maintaining the quality of service delivery in its existing centers. It also recommended that Alfalit build on its current efforts to form strategic alliances with NGOs, municipalities and other groups providing complementary services, but that it should also continue working with traditional partners so that Alfalit is not totally dependent on USAID funding. The capacity of Alfalit Bolivia should be strengthened through better administrative/ financial policies, planning and procedures and emphasis should be given to the staff training. Additional teaching resources should be provided to centers, as well as complementary reading materials for home libraries to promote a culture of reading and to sustain literacy.

In sum, the evaluation identified demonstrated results in student learning and behavior change in a short period of time, and recommended additional funding to be a sound USAID investment.

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