This week we have four topics to discuss – use of the monthly newsletter, the Mother Theresa vision of what we are about; creative ways to find out what clubs are doing with literacy; and standards of literacy project excellence at the club level.
I. Use of the Monthly Literacy Newsletter – A Planning Tool for Clubs
Roger Hayward has just mailed the December-January literacy newsletter to the area coordinators and they will distribute it to their zone coordinators. The goal is to get the newsletter into the hands of the district literacy leaders and the clubs. Once that is accomplished the RI Literacy Resource Group hopes that someone in each club will take the time to read the newsletter articles with the intent of identifying possible new literacy projects for the club. Clubs whose districts fail to forward the newsletter to them can also access it at our secondary web site, http://www.rizones30-31.net/.
II. The Mother Teresa Vision of Rotary’s Literacy Projects – With application to the vision of a Rotary-led campaign to wipe out illiteracy - Provided by ZC Paulo Eduardo de B. Fonseca
1. ZC Paulo Eduardo began a recent message to his zones with this quotation from Mother Teresa, «Few of us can undertake great works, but all of us can undertake small works with great love».
2. Paulo Eduardo then said, «The innumerable examples of projects which Rotary clubs in Zone 22A are undertaking…show not only great love, but, however small those actions may seem (individually), they do make a difference ( collectively) in the lives of thousands of individuals».
3. The Mother Teresa vision applies to all three categories of Rotary literacy projects – Basic Literacy, Functional Literacy and Character Literacy. But of particular interest to our RI Literacy Resource Group team is the application of this vision to basic
literacy and the goal of achieving universal basic literacy.
4. Paulo Eduardo’s vision of the “big picture” suggests a strategy whereby Rotary can become one of the most important unofficial partners in UNESCO’s campaign to eliminate illiteracy, worldwide, by 2015 (or a somewhat later date if 2015 turns out to be a bit premature). What is that strategy? For every club the strategy is to sponsor projects which eliminate illiteracy locally. For every district the strategy is to “sell” the vision to every club in the district. For every zone coordinator the strategy is to keep “knocking on the district governors’ doors” until the DGs open their doors, receive the message, and embrace the vision. For the area and general coordinators (also RI staff in Evanston and the RI president-elect), the strategy is to recruit zone coordinators who are up to the task and then provide them with the tools they need to get the job done.
5. There has been much talk about “literacy” becoming the next big worldwide RI project once we have eliminated polio. That, of course, is something the RI and the TRF boards wisely decided not to discuss until after we succeed in our polio campaign. But in the case of eliminating illiteracy it is not necessary for the boards to take the lead. A global Rotary campaign to eliminate illiteracy is something that can be done through a grass roots effort. Paulo Eduardo’s vision shows how and why that could happen.
III. This Week’s Inspiring Example of How a Zone Coordinator Might Deal with Non-Responding Districts – Maria C. Cisneros de Marsiglia
1. Like virtually every other zone literacy coordinator, ZC 23B (Argentina) Maria has been disappointed by the frequency with which district governors fail to respond to her request for reports of successful literacy projects.
2. Last year she managed, nevertheless, to get some great reports….. but not nearly as many as she wanted.
3. So this year she became more proactive. In addition to regularly asking for reports she also went to district newsletters and web sites as well as Google.
As a result she picked up a number of good reports which otherwise would have been withheld from her.
4. Note that the census now being conducted by zone coordinators is another way to proactively get information which districts and their clubs would otherwise not provide.
IV. This Week’s Example of One Answer to the Question, «Should a Rotary Club Focus on doing one BIG project or should the Club Focus on Five or More Less Ambitious Projects?». – The Rotary Club of Bedfordview (South Africa)
There was a time when the emphasis was on doing one major literacy project – the bigger the better. That is a goal which a majority of Rotary clubs do not yet have the capacity to achieve.
So, three years ago, the RILRG added a more modest goal of every Rotary club undertaking at least one literacy project. We also created the district literacy award to recognize what we expected would be the relatively small number of clubs which had the capacity to do five or more literacy projects.
Much to our surprise two districts showed that the goal of five literacy projects was something that all clubs in a given district could achieve. For the past two years all of the clubs in D5000 (Hawaii) and D6900 (Georgia) have earned the district literacy award. Some of those clubs completed one or more major projects as part of their menus of five or more projects. Other clubs did a number of relatively small, yet very important, literacy projects. But all completed at least five projects.
That kind of awesome performance requires a strong and passionate district literacy chair (Gloria King in D5000 and Brenda Erickson in D6000). So we will probably always have numerous districts unable to motivate 100 percent of their clubs to achieve the 5 project goal in any given year.
Nevertheless, the emerging standard of excellence for all clubs in the world is five or more literacy projects. Including a major project in the club’s menu of literacy projects is probably still beyond the reach of a large percentage of clubs. But all clubs should have a long run goal of building the club’s service capabilities to the point where a major project can be added to the list of five.
Zone Coordinator Chris Pretorius recently provided an example of a club which illustrates one of the many ways this can be done --- the RC of Bedfordview (South Africa). Here is what that club reported to ZC Chris in response to the literacy project census being undertaken by him:
1. Celebrated literacy day with a club program on the perilous state of education and why Rotary should support literacy projects.
2. Started a dictionary project
3. Observed literacy month by delivering dictionaries to three schools
4 Gave books to local schools
5 Started a library project in a local school
6 Presented a vocational award to a teacher
7 Did a Four-Way Test project – Put 4-Way Test stickers in dictionaries
8. The club’s major project --- Setshabelo AIDS Orphans Project
«This project is aimed at keeping orphans in their homes. Otherwise someone will ‘highjack’ the dwelling. The project is multifaceted in line with our belief that any literacy project needs to be holistic --- Teach but also feed and provide a variety of support and life skills. There is an aftercare center where we have
provided the kitchen and counseling room, as well as books, dictionaries and provided the electrical and sewerage reticulation».
9. Presented a PHF award to the community person spearheading the orphans project
There are thousands of other good examples among Rotary’s 33,790 clubs. The job of the RI Literacy Resource group is to find those examples, make the rest of the world’s clubs aware of a representative sample of them, and do so in a way which motivates lagging clubs to set a goal of five or more meaningful literacy projects.
Clearly the above comments raise a question about the Zone Literacy Award. For the last three years the criteria for the zone award included doing ten literacy projects. Would a better approach, starting next year, be to make the requirements for a zone award consist of (1) earning the District Literacy Award, and (2) completing one “major” literacy project?
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