問與答Q & A




through literacy


A candid conversation with Bill Boyd


RI Literacy Committee Chairman Bill Boyd reads to children at Mayfield School in South Aukland, New Zealand.




As chairman of the RI Literacy Committee, Past RI Director William Boyd is charged with advancing one of the organization's most important ongoing campaigns: the fight against illiteracy. A member of the Rotary Club of Pakuranga, New Zealand, and a Rotarian since 1971, Boyd agreed to discuss with our editors why Rotarians should participate in efforts to promote literacy, both locally and globally.


身為國際扶輪識 字委員會主委,前國際扶輪理事白義德(William Boyd)身負的責任就是推動國際扶輪持續進行且最重要的活動之一:消除文盲。1971年加入扶輪、目前是紐西蘭帕庫藍佳(Pakuranga)扶輪社社員的白義德,同意和英文月刊THE ROTARIAN的編輯群探討為何扶輪社員應該一同努力在地方與全球提升識字率。

Why is literacy such a pressing problem today?



If there is one factor more than any other that distinguishes the haves from the have-nots, either in your community or between countries, it is literacy. Illiterate families are locked in the poverty cycle and have little hope of breaking free. Countries with low levels of literacy cannot compete and fall further and further behind, and ultimately, the frustrations spill over into wars.



How does illiteracy relate to other social problems, such as poverty and violence?



It is very difficult to teach illiterate people the paths to good health, the advantages of family spacing, the way to increase crop yields, nutrition for their children, and how to earn a living. They are denied access to so much of today's knowledge. The poor often cannot afford to turn their backs on any means of obtaining the necessities of life. In developed countries, we see the impact of illiteracy in people who become antisocial when they cannot obtain a driver's license or read instructions on machines or labels. For those of us who can read this interview, it is hard to realize how crippling illiteracy must be and how difficult it is to survive without the knowledge we gain from the written word.



Why is it important to give special attention to the education of girls and young women?



Research in Africa has shown that women who have less than four years of education have on average six children, and those with more than four years of education have on average two children. We also know that in Africa, women produce most of the crops. Add in the importance of the mother in family health, education, and upbringing, and it is easy to see why educating women is so important. Despite this, in many developing countries, the literacy rate for women is abysmal. The best value for the aid dollar is when it is spent on the education of women. The benefits are long term and flow from generation to generation.



How has Rotary responded to the problem of illiteracy?



Our response has varied depending on the local need. In developed countries, we have given books to families with babies, books to children in homes that have none, and libraries to communities and schools. We have given reading assistance to slow learners and supported students through mentoring. What we have done in less developed countries is hugely exciting. We have taught adult women in Turkey to read and given them vocational skills at the same time. We have educated street children in Egypt. We proved the efficacy of the Concentrated Language Encounter (CLE) method of teaching reading and writing in Thailand, and saw it adopted as the official way of teaching children in their schools. Now we are working in Thailand to use the method to teach English as a second language. In Malaysia, the use of CLE in teaching English as a second language in three trial schools lifted the passing rate from 35 percent to 78 percent. In the East Cape region of South Africa, we have trained teachers in 10 pilot schools and have a solid base of trained staff. In East London, South Africa, we are just beginning an adult literacy program, and while waiting for a Rotary Foundation grant to be finalized, a trainer (who had been trained in Thailand) trained all of the remedial teachers in the province — 117 church ministers, 77 primary school teachers, and 35 teachers of adult literacy — all in the CLE method. The impact of our literacy efforts is almost impossible to quantify. And I haven't mentioned the excellent work in Brazil, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, the Philippines, and the many other countries where Rotarians are working to bring literacy to people.

In the past four years, we have had over 100 literacy projects funded by Foundation grants in addition to the countless projects funded directly by clubs and districts.


我們的因應方式乃視各地需求而異。在已開發國家,我們贈書給家中有嬰孩的家庭,也贈書給家中有小孩卻無書可讀的家庭,還為社區及學校興設圖書館。我們為學習遲緩的學生提供閱讀指導,並透過輔導幫助學生。不過我們為開發較落後的國家所做的,則更令人激賞了。我們在土耳其教導成年女性閱讀,同時傳授她們職業技能。在埃及,我們為街童提供教育。在泰國,我們證明了教授閱讀及書寫的「密集語言接觸教學法(Concentrated Language Encounter, 簡稱CLE)之功效,也見到當地學校將CLE列為教導兒童的正式方法。如今,我們在泰國積極運用CLE3所實驗學校中教授英語為第二語言的經驗,已經讓學生的測驗合格率從35%躍升為78%。在南非的東角(East Cape)地區,我們在10所試辦學校中訓練老師,培育出堅強的訓練師資陣容。在南非的東倫敦(East London),我們剛開辦一項成人識字計劃,而就在等待一筆扶輪基金會獎助金核發下來的同時,一位訓練人員(曾在泰國接受訓練)已經在該省分教導所有的輔導老師學習CLE法,包括117位教會牧師、77位小學老師及35位成人識字老師。我們為提升識字率所做的努力,其影響力幾乎無法量化。而且這尚不包括我們在巴西、印度、孟加拉、尼泊爾、奈及利亞、菲律賓和其他許多國家的傑出成就,扶輪社員可說是不斷努力提升當地人民的識字率。過去4年來,除了扶輪社及地區直接資助的計劃難以計數,我們更透過扶輪基金會獎助金資助了一百多個識字計劃。

What is this CLE method that you keep mentioning?



CLE is a method of teaching reading and writing that was substantially developed by Rotarian Dick Walker in Queensland, Australia, and it has been tested over 15 years. It teaches from an interest/activity approach, rather than the rote repetition methods more common in developed countries and has the advantages of using low-cost materials, being easy to train to teachers, being culturally acceptable in all countries, and yielding quick results. We can teach an adult woman to read and write in about 45 hours and train her in a vocational skill at the same time. One of the great advantages, which President Rattakul saw in Thailand, is that the students find it fun and they enjoy learning.

CLE is just the method we use, though, and we have developed within Rotary a full strategy that begins with a pilot project in a country that becomes what we call a "lighthouse" to demonstrate to educational officials and teachers a way to go forward. The ownership of the program is local, and our role is to provide support and guidance in establishing the program and then by mon- itoring performance and developing the progression to more advanced levels. Our ultimate aim must be to hand a sustainable program to the officials of the country with whom we are working.


CLE是主要由澳洲昆士蘭的扶輪社員沃克(Dick Walker)設計的讀寫教學法,已歷經15年的實驗。CLE採用從活動中激發興趣的方法來教學,有別於已開發國家中較常見的反覆死背的方式。此外,CLE還有採用低成本教材、培育師資容易、各國文化皆可接受和教學效果迅速等優點。我們能夠在大約45小時之內教會1位成人閱讀及書寫,同時訓練其職業技能。陳裕財社長更在泰國發現CLE的另一大優點,亦即學生會覺得這種學習方法饒富趣味,因而樂於學習。

然而CLE 只是我們所採行的方法,我們還在扶輪內部推展一項完整計劃,先在某個國家開辦一個我們稱為「燈塔lighthouse」的試辦計劃,為教育官員與老師照亮一條得以依循的路。這項計劃由當地人士主持,我們的角色是在計劃成立時提供支援與指導,隨後監督成效並安排循序漸進的進度。我們的最終目標,絕對是將一個可永續經營的計劃交給與我們合作的該國官員。

Why not use CLE in developed countries?



It is not logical for us to challenge existing and traditional teaching methods, which are generally working well. But what we are now realizing is that there may well be a place for CLE to help those minority groups that find it difficult to assimilate into their new countries, as they are shut off from reading and writing the language. Their children suffer, and many countries are becoming concerned about potential problems when immigrant communities are not absorbed into the life of the wider society. It is a big challenge, but we have the tools available to us.



You've been speaking about "we." Who are "we"?



RI President Bhichai Rattakul has brought together many of the most experienced Rotarians in the field of literacy in the Rotary International Literacy Committee and has backed them up with a number of regional committees. All the names are in the Official Directory, and these Rotarians are the contact points for anyone who wants more information.


國際扶輪社長陳裕財集合了許多識字領域裡最有經驗的扶輪社員共組「國際扶輪識字委員會」(Rotary Intemational Literacy Committee),並請來許多地域性委員會提供支援。這些扶輪社員都名列公式名錄(Official Directory)之中,也是能夠提供各位更多資料的聯絡人。

Why is this topic of such personal interest to you?



I was lucky in that my parents often read to me when I was young, and I grew up loving reading. My first job was in a bookshop, and most of my working career was with New Zealand's largest magazine distributor. I have always been surrounded by written material, and my hobbies are reading and sport. In an ideal world, I would like every person to have those same opportunities, and I can see Rotary making a difference.



What can we expect to see from Rotary in the months to come?



The strength of Rotary is that we are club-based, and our work in literacy will only widen as more clubs and districts become involved. We have the skilled people to help clubs set up and guide literacy projects, but as President Rattakul says, they must be driven from the bottom up.

There is a growing demand for new CLE projects, so you will see much new activity regarding that. We have been asked to extend the English-as-a-second-language programs in Thailand and Malaysia; set up a program for street children in Manila; extend the current work in Turkey; move from a series of pilot projects in India to a large-scale project; work with the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, where it is hoped that racial tensions can be eased by bringing literacy and equal opportunity to indigenous children in remote schools; build on Rotarians' successes in Brazil; and extend the excellent results in South Africa into other areas.

We are aware that it takes money to run literacy projects and also that during this Rotary year, our top priority is to meet our fundraising goal to eradicate polio. At the same time, we know that many international organizations share our belief that education is the key to tackling poverty, health, overpopulation, and war. If we can gain their financial support, we can provide well-run, effective mass literacy programs.

At its June meeting, the Board of Directors of RI agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the International Reading Association, and we are looking forward to the technical support of this organization of the world's leading literacy experts.

We are building alliances that will give us the strength to bring the joy and the power of literacy to millions of people around the world. We invite each and every Rotarian to become involved.


扶輪的力量源自各個扶輪社,所以唯有更多扶輪社及地區的參與,才能推廣我們的識字工作。我們擁有經驗豐富的人員可協助扶輪社訂定並指導識字計劃,但如同陳裕財社長所言,這些計劃必須由下而上推動。由於目前對新CLE計劃的需求持續增加,因此未來各位將見到更多有關這方面的新活動。許多人希望我們將教授英語為第二語言的計劃延伸到泰國及馬來西亞;為驗尼拉的街童安排一項計劃;將目前的工作推展至土耳其;將印度一系列的試辦計劃擴大為一大型計劃;與斐濟的南太平洋大學(University of the South Pacific)合作,期盼藉由為偏遠小學的原住民兒童培養識字能力及提供平等機會,降低種族間的緊張衝突;在巴西延續扶輪社員的成就;以及將我們在南非的傑出成果轉移到其他地區。我們知道辦理識字計劃所費不眥,而且本扶輪年度的首要工作應該是達成根除小兒痲痺的募款目標。但我們也瞭解到主要的國際組織都和我們有相同的見解,都同意教育才是解決貧窮、衛生、人口過多和戰爭的關鍵。要是能獲得他們的經濟援助,我們便能推動完善且效的大型識字計劃。國際扶輪理事會在6月的會議中,同意與「國際閱讀協會」(International Reading Association)簽署的瞭解備忘錄,我們目前正期待由全球頂尖識字專家組成的該組織提供技術支援。