Yes, I Can! read and write
- 2 July 2021 10:32AM
First Nations peoples in Yarrabah are learning to read and write thanks to an adult literacy pilot program developed in Cuba.
The Literacy for Life Foundation will deliver workshops using the Yo, si puedo! or Yes, I Can! teaching method to 20 local residents over the next six months, helping the community develop basic literacy.
Professor Jack Beetson, a Ngemba man and the Foundation’s Executive Director, says the program has a strong focus on community-driven education and ownership.
“We train local people who can read and write to be facilitators, and they survey all the different family groups in the community to assess everyone’s literacy needs,” he says.
“People are more willing to come forward and take part because they’re talking to their own mob.
“The whole community comes together to help deliver the program, and once the community take ownership of it, then it’s theirs for life.”
The teaching model is based on a Cuban education method and focuses on people who don’t have strong English language literacy skills.
“The program is for those who don’t even know all the letters of the alphabet,” says Professor Beetson.
“They learn literacy through pre-recorded videos and CDs, and the facilitators get help from English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers to deliver exercises.
“We know that if people come and do the classes, at least 65 per cent will graduate after six months.”
The Literacy for Life Foundation have run successful iterations of the Yes, I Can! literacy workshops in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia for the last nine years.
“We’ve received a lot of interest from local residents and the first group of students are expected to graduate in December 2021,” Professor Beetson says.
“You often hear people say, ‘Aboriginal people aren’t interested in education,’ but that’s not true.
“A lot of the time people are really desperate to read and write, and I think people underestimate that.
“As tough as it is to give education a chance, the ones who walk in the door and try are the bravest I know – so I encourage them to be brave and just give it a go.”
The pilot is funded through the Queensland Government’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Action Plan 2019-2023 as the ability to read forms and understand your rights and responsibilities are the foundation for a stable tenancy.