• 11:59
  • Sunday ,15 November 2009
العربية

When there is a will

By-EG

Opinion

22:11

Saturday ,14 November 2009

When there is a will

THE way the UN Development Programme con- vinced Bedouin women of Siwa Oasis in the Egyptian Western Desert to overcome their illit- eracy sets an example as to how certain objectives have to be pursued in non-traditional ways.

Given the high rate of illiteracy among Bedouins in general,females in particular,the programme officials offered men the opportunity to bring their spouses to the smart schools and IT centres opened in their neighbourhoods to be taught by means of CDs.But the men declined on the pretext that women are not allowed to mix with men. Although they were promised female instructors,the answer was again in the negative given the traditional Bedouin restrictions on women regarding outdoor activities.The dedicated supervisors of the programme thought of moving their computers and desks to the homes of the Bedouins.But to their surprise, the idea was not welcomed for the simple yet confusing reason of their not being used to sitting at desks.But,because when there is a will there is a way,the supervisors designed and manufac- tured low tables similar to those used by Bedouins for eating purposes,known in Arabic as tablia Only then did the Bedouin women agree to be part of the programme,as these low tables would allow them to be instructed while sitting on the floor.The tables and the computer sets are moved every six months from one home to another to overcome the illiteracy of a group of women taking part in each session. The absence of such persistence,flexibility and understanding of the needs of the targeted category is what actually defeats many of our promising projects.It is not enough to outline goals.It is the way these goals are approached that counts the most.