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Egypt: Improving health and literacy for women in Egypt

©World Education
Young Egyptian women learn valuable personal and family health information in World Ed's integrated health and literacy program.

In Egypt, women are learning more about their health as they learn to read through World Education's integrated literacy initiative. Funded by the Ford Foundation, World Education's integrated literacy project uses health information as content for literacy programs. The project was so successful that today, prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, breastfeeding, and health care for infants are covered in the nation's core literacy curriculum through Egypt's national adult literacy network, the General Authority for Literacy and Adult Education (GALAE).

The curriculum and teacher-training program were developed, tested, and implemented in cities throughout Egypt, with over 10,000 learners—mostly women and adolescent girls—and 500 teachers. The Social Research Center of the American University in Cairo designed and conducted a research study to document the impact of the program on the health knowledge and attitudes of literacy teachers, students, and associated households.

Teachers and students rave about the new materials. For many, it was their first exposure to health education-and education itself. "The new health and literacy book has encouraged my illiterate daughter, who didn't get any schooling, to attend the literacy class," said one mother.

Teachers and learners also found the materials and content to be appropriate and useful in literacy courses, as well as a successful way of communicating important health information. Khadisha, a student in Cairo reflected, "I am married and have children. However, this is the first time I have been introduced…to the relationship of breastfeeding and the protection it provides. I fed my first baby sugar and water instead of sticking to breast milk. I regret that now."

As adolescent girls and women gain literacy skills through this project, they also learn how to take better care of themselves and their children. World Education's efforts in Egypt continue and will resonate for years to come. Most importantly, as children grow up healthier, they will learn from their mothers that health and education go hand-in-hand.


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