How ability to read, write and calculate affects life in rural
Abstract Degree project in Medicine, Programme of Medicine How ability to read, write and calculate affects life in rural Uganda, a qualitative study Emilia Karlsson, January 2018, Sahlgrenska University, University of Gothenburg Supervisors: Professor Henrik Sjövall, University of Gothenburg and Research fellow Aloysius Mutebi, Makarere University Key words: Literacy, women, qualitative Background: Literacy is a key determinant of health. It is one of the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure that all youths and most adults achieve literacy and numeracy by 2030. Aim: To assess the effects of literacy and numeracy training on life situation among illiterate or semiliterate adult Ugandan women. Method: A retrospective cohort study, where 22 study subjects were participants of a course and 22 controls were applicants. In-depths interviews were conducted and analysed, using a qualitative method. Results: Achieving basic literacy and numeracy, most of the subjects had improved their economy, they were more optimistic about their future and their children spent more time in school. We did not assess whether children´s school results improved. Mental well-being of the subjects improved. They felt an ability to take care of their families in a better way, although we did not detect any obvious changes in family health status. The course contributed to involving more family members in decisionmaking. Health literacy improved somewhat. Many claimed they maintained a better diet and hygiene. Some bullying by illiterate friends was mentioned, although a majority expressed their social life as positively changed. Conclusion: For people living in absolute poverty, basic literacy and numeracy knowledge might be the key to a decent future. The course participants report improved economy, more uninterrupted school attendance for their children and a stronger hope for a better future. Hereby, future generations will have a chance of a better life.