Publication Date

Fall 11-2012


School of Education


Integrated Studies: Special Education--Teacher Certification; Integrated Studies: Elementary--Teacher Certification

Primary Subject Area

Education, Reading


Adult Basic Education, Literacy, Northeast Kenya, Development, Culture, Sociology, Reading Strategies, Literacy Program Development, Linguistics


African Languages and Societies | Other Education | Sociology of Culture


The underdevelopment of effective adult literacy programs in Northern Kenya is a problem that must be addressed to meet the needs of a changing generation of nomadic pastoralists. Existing programs must be reevaluated in order to increase their efficiency and incorporate the unique aspects of local cultures into their design. This paper explores the broadening definition of literacy and discusses how there are in fact multiple literacies in any given culture. Next, it examines the history of education in Kenya and the barriers that may be unique to adult literacy programs in Northern Kenya. Also, it examines how changes in development and culture of the people in Northeastern Kenya have impacted the educational practices and attitudes of the adults of that region. Finally, the paper blends effective literacy practices with traditional approaches to education in order to meet the needs of this diverse group of learners. When developing successful programs, it is vital that educators develop culturally sensitive programs that are holistic, emphasize community ownership and provide training for teachers.