The Literacy Game

I recently travelled to Hinche, where I was able to visit one of Fonkoze’s Basic Literacy classes meeting in a back room of the Fonkoze branch. The women were playing Jwèt Korelit la. It’s a game that teaches recognition of letters and words, and then the solution to simple business math problems, by challenging players to find a letter, word, or solution in a pile of cards spread out on a table.

This group in Hinche was without a table, but they were cheerfully making due with a chair and a piece of cardboard.

Here, one of the participants has found the letter that her teacher called out.

Fonkoze teachers emphasize the positive. One of the institution’s educational mantras is that adult learners are fragile. The first and perhaps, most important job for a teacher is to create a positive, encouraging environment. This literacy teacher could hardly be more enthusiastic.

After the game was over I asked participants whether they would be willing to write something on the blackboard for me. They all jumped at the chance, and almost all of them wrote their own names. This might not seem like much, but after a life without school of any kind and then only three months of weekly meetings its an accomplishment thewomen are extremely proud of.

When the last woman went to the board, I expected another name. I was stunned when she carefully wrote “M kontan wè vizitè yo.” That means, “I’m glad to see the visitors.” Here’s a short film of her writing.

The games name means “the game that supports the struggle”, and it’s exciting to watch the players use it as they struggle to improve their lives.

The pictures and the video were taken by Erik Badger.