Alicia G. Follosco,
Celia M. Austria,
United Nations Children\'s Fund University of the Philippines, Baguio City
The main purpose of the study was to conduct an evaluation on the effects of Female Functional Literacy (FFL) in the care and health knowledge, practices and behavior of women FFL-learners in Mountain Province. The approach of the research employed both quantitative and qualitative methods, although basically qualitative in nature. Guided by feminist ontological, epistemological and methodological insights, feminist participatory research tools were utilized by the study. The study employed both participatory methods of in-depth interviews that incorporate consciousness-raising, problem-posing, and capability-building methods, such as Focused Group Discussions, Case Study, and Key-Informant Interviews for the Case Studies. Review of existing records related to the Functional Literacy Learner's (FFL) Program, observation and photo-documentation, were also utilized.
The research took into consideration the various aspects in the life of the women of Mountain Province, which were relevant to the implementation of the FFL Program. The articulations from the participants provided information on the impact and responsiveness of the FFL Program for Mt. Province. Also, the articulations formed basis for improving strategies in operationalizing a relevant and responsive FFL Program not only in the province but for conceptualizing similar programs.
The evaluation therefore took into considerations the following assumptions:
1. Mountain Province is an indigenous community, thus the areas where the MCH-FFL Programs are implemented have existing and developed indigenous socio-political structures that address maternal and child health concerns. There are existing indigenous knowledge practices that have been accumulated and tested through the years with experiences. As indigenous people, the Igorots of Mt. Province an internally consistent, highly integrated and ecologically harmonious knowledge system around life cycles, major life events and health issues. This knowledge places health in a holistic psycho-socio-spiritual perspective. The integration of the more biologically based Westerninterventions being presented by the government or NGO programs are beneficial and imperative.
2. Since there exists indigenous knowledge, the IPs have many beneficial health practices. Some of them have no scientific basis but are beneficial for the psychological and spiritual support given to individuals and to the transmission of important cultural values that are necessary for ensuring tribal welfare and identity. Many of these beliefs can be validated from western scientific knowledge systems in medicine. These beliefs should be preserved, promoted and defended against equally effective but less ecologically sound western alternatives. The study will explore what the MCH-FFL Program has contributed to the strengthening of these sound indigenous practices especially along the lines of Maternal and Child Health Care as well as changing practices that are considered detrimental to the health of people.
3. Other institutions such as the family, the church, schools media, and the MCH-FFL Program have all likewise contributed to the existing knowledge, skills and values of the learners (from adolescent to motherhood) on health and health related concerns and issues. It is therefore important to identify the impact of the program so that areas that need to strengthened and modified will be particularized.
The study generated data on the following:
. Literacy and numeracy levels of learners;
. Impact of FFL on the health and nutrition care and management and the health-seeking behaviors of targeted mothers/families; and
. Replicability of the strategy considering the costs and processes involved.
Based on these, key results and conclusions were drawn:
Data on numeracy-literacy levels of the learners after the FFL program could not be quantified fully because there are no records available for quantitative evaluation purposes, such as pre-tests and post-tests of FFL learners. However, based on the performance of the FFL in the simple test validated by the data and information generated from the FGDs (of the learners, their husbands, facilitators and stakeholders) and the FFL case studies an evaluation there is enough basis for evaluation, the qualified learners who entered the FFL classes, were able to write some words and numbers, and perform written simple addition and subtraction.The learners have applied these skills at home (as they study with their children) or in the community (in their exercise of suffrage, or during visits to the local health clinics).
The impact of the FFL program on the literacy-numeracy levels of the learners was effected, notwithstanding the findings that in the selection of participants, the selection criteria (based on age and literacy level) were waived in most FFL sites.
Data from the FGDs (of FFL learners and their husbands, FFL of non-learners) and the case studies reveal that there are observable impact on the health and nutrition care and management and health seeking behavior of the FFL learners.
In terms of health-related knowledge and skills, all participants in the FGDs noted that the FFL learners acquired knowledge and skills on pregnancy (including check-ups, care during pregnancy, normal and risky pregnancy, labor); food groups and vitamins; care after delivery, care for newborn and childrens' growth, breast-feeding, immunization, weight monitoring and first aid and care for illnesses. However, the new knowledge and skills they acquired were largely those Western mainstream health and nutrition knowledge, e.g., immunization, vitamins and care during pregnancy. For most of the rest, the learners have had knowledge and skills, which they learned as children at home, in school, or as wife and member of the community; almost of these are traditional knowledge and practices, which were handed down by their elders.
The various data sources reveal the following aspects of the FFL program that are essential in assessing the replicability of the program.
The Facilitators' responses indicate that the Facilitators' Training they went through in preparation for heir tasks and responsibilities in the program were not thorough and complete. There topics the two batches covered were not standardized. There are also several topics for which they need deeper discussions and practicum. There was also noted inadequacy of classroom materials.
Based on the responses of the facilitators and stakeholders, the organizational machinery through which the flow of information and actions were supposed emanate, was not in clearly place. This resulted in the general lack of coordination and commitment from the units and individual who were supposed to be responsible.
One of the manifestations of this observation is the weakness in the selection of FFL sites and participants. To replicate the FFL program will require revision of capability-building processes and devices and a more committed and coordinated implementation of the program from the beginning to its completion. The research also provided insights that could guide development approaches. The research reaffirms that any need or problem cannot be taken in isolation from existing socio-economic, political, and cultural conditions of the community. Literacy concerns are not just concerns of the education sector. Also, due to the demands of low socio-income status, learners are saddled with many tasks, as such, homes can still be kept unattended, especially during busy months such as planting and harvesting season.
Thus, working with communities should be seen within the context of a continuous and sustained process of organizing the community. It involves educating the people to understand and develop critical consciousness of their existing conditions and organizing them to work collectively and efficiently on their condition.