‘A strong belief in the possibility of a better life’: The pedagogy of contingency and the ethic of solidarity in the Yes, I Can! Aboriginal adult literacy campaign

‘A strong belief in the possibility of a better life’: The pedagogy of contingency and the ethic of solidarity in the Yes, I Can! Aboriginal adult literacy campaign Book Section

Literacy Education and Indigenous Australians: Theory, Research and Practice

  • Author(s): Boughton, Bob, Williamson, Frances
  • Secondary Author(s): Rennie, Jennifer, Harper, Helen
  • Published: 2019
  • Publisher: Springer Singapore
  • ISBN: 978-981-13-8629-9

Abstract: The widespread social and economic inequality between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australia is unlikely to change unless the people who are most marginalised themselves become more able to intervene effectively in the economic, social and political processes and practices which continue to reproduce this situation. For a number of reasons, this requires a level of English language literacy which a large proportion of those most in need have so far been unable to acquire. While the current focus in Indigenous education policy is almost solely on children’s literacy, this chapter suggests a different approach. Yes, I Can! (Yo, Si Puedo) is a Cuban mass literacy campaign model that is currently being deployed for the first time in Australia in north-western NSW in the Murdi Paaki Region. We report on the first 4 years of the campaign, which is led by an Aboriginal organisation, the Literacy for Life Foundation (LFLF). Between 2012 and 2015, four communities joined the campaign, enrolling 150 participants in 6 months of literacy instruction and practice provided by locally recruited facilitators, who were supported by a small team of professional advisers. Having achieved a successful completion rate of 69%, which is several times greater than comparable formal courses, the campaign has now extended into three more communities. Through our analysis of qualitative data gained through interviews with participants, staff and local agencies who took part between 2012 and 2015, we highlight two aspects of the campaign model which help explain this success, namely, a pedagogy of contingency and an ethic of solidarity.

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Boughton, Bob, Williamson, Frances, 2019, ‘A strong belief in the possibility of a better life’: The pedagogy of contingency and the ethic of solidarity in the Yes, I Can! Aboriginal adult literacy campaign, Book Section, viewed 18 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=16404.

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