This profile was prepared when Betty Agujiobi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Betty is reducing illiteracy in Nigeria by adopting an approach to literacy education that is built upon the interests and goals of individual adult learners. Her model allows for different learning needs and different abilities, while simultaneously offering learners the opportunity to develop income-earning job skills. The flexibility of her initiative permits learners to choose their learning interest, pace, and languageeither their local language or English. Betty integrates vocational training into literacy education in such a way that vocational training materials become the primary learning tools for literacy classes. For example, if the class is learning to make soap, soap-making is used as the subject for reading, writing and arithmetic. Furthermore, Betty's program is the first adult literacy initiative in Nigeria to take into consideration the health needs of adult learners through a provision for free eye care. Because over half of Nigerian adults have vision problemswhich slow or prevent readingthis is a critical area of need.