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City Life - Lines in the Dust

In a small village in Northern Ghana, a group of men and women sit around in a semi-circle, discussing the chart that they have drawn in the dust. The chart has three columns, showing the hours in the day and the different tasks men and women undertake during those hours. It soon becomes clear that women undertake the most labor intensive work -- fetching water and firewood, cleaning and preparing food -- and the discovery sparks a lively debate about why the men can not take on more 'women's' work. In this Muslim village, it is a radical move for men and women to sit down and debate together.

But the project aims to go beyond discussion of men's and women's separate workloads, reaching out to the nine hundred million illiterate adults across the world -- from Ghana to the Eastern Ghats of India -- who have been failed by conventional education. Known as 'Reflect', it is part of a radical approach to learning for adults that does not rely on importing textbooks from the outside world, but where, instead, everything is created by the participants themselves.

As well as changing ideas about whose job it is to carry all the water and fuel, charts and other home-made tools act as a stepping-stone towards reading, writing and number-work -- and introduce learners to the concept that the symbols they copy onto paper can represent not just words, but ideas -- and their plans for change.