Failing adult learners: Why Rwanda’s adult literacy education is not delivering

Pamela Abbott* (Corresponding Author), Roger Mugisha, Peter Mtika, Wenceslas Nzabalirwa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Having a literate society has been a policy objective of the Rwandan Government for 20 years. However, in practice, it has never been a high priority, although investing in adult literacy education has the potential to contribute to socio-economic transformation. This paper reports on findings from a survey, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. We show that learners rarely benefit from attending literacy classes. Extreme poverty, lack of a ‘culture of reading’ and the poor delivery of literacy classes are the main barriers to student learning. Without more investment in training tutors, infrastructure and learning resources, the policy implementation gap will persist.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102288
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development
Early online date29 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

The project of which this research forms part was funded by the Scottish Government [Grant no. RW3]. The Scottish Government had no involvement in the conduct of the research, in the writing of the article or of the decision to submit the article for publication.


  • Adult literacy education
  • Rwanda
  • Empowerment
  • Social practices
  • Community tutors
  • Literacy environment


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