Bridging the Gap: Bringing together NGO/INGO stakeholders with academic researchers to explore how greater collaboration can inform the development of women’s literacy learning.

This BAICE-Funded Building Capacity and Networks Project was led by the Literacy and Development Group, in collaboration with the UK Literacy Working Group. The project consisted of a Quick-fire presentation/discussion session at the UKFIET Oxford Conference in September 2015, a one-day seminar at UEA in October, an e-forum hosted on the BAICE website for a week in November, and a concluding one-day event in London, hosted by BALID (the British Association for Literacy in Development). A team from LDG, consisting of Anna Robinson-Pant, Gina Lontoc and Hamissou Ousseini planned and organised the programme of events (including setting up the E-Forum and producing the reports). LDG members Alan Rogers, Clare Meade, Fusheng Jia, Sheila Aikman and Kate Jere also contributed to the various events.


Despite the recognition given to adult literacy by UNESCO and other bodies, this sector continues to be under-developed and under-supported.  Many NGOs and INGOs are involved in initiatives, programmes and projects, which embrace or include women and men’s literacy learning in diverse ways. They work in the field for sustained periods of time close to communities and as trusted intermediaries and are thus well placed to both use and inform research around literacy development. However, their experiences, insights and understandings are usually captured in reports and feedback, the ‘grey literature’, of a kind not always accessed by academic researchers or applied in practical programmes.  The impact of many literacy programmes tends to be evidenced by practitioners through observation and local reporting, rather than being formally recorded in published reports accessible to the academic community. And similarly, from the academic perspective, research, whilst usually rigorous, peer-reviewed and often used to inform policy, does not always take account of the perspectives offered by those working in NGOs and INGOs. Academic research, then, can remain unnoticed and under-used through researchers’ lack of communication with those who might use it in the field in government or NGO programmes.

An Overview

This BAICE-funded initiative of the UK Literacy Working Group (of which LDG is a member institution) aimed to bring together literacy policy makers, researchers and practitioners to consider issues around developing adults’ literacy learning, and women’s literacy learning in particular. We set out to provide an opportunity to explore the gaps in communicating and constructing knowledge between these different communities, in order to inform future sustainable development of practice in adult literacy.

The network meetings included presentations, reports and sharing of materials in relation to the development of adult literacy learning, and women’s literacy learning in particular. The process included small group discussion, question-raising and identification of issues and gaps between the academic research community and practice in the field. The mechanisms for continuing the dialogue between different communities of research and practice in women’s literacy were also considered and are explored in our final report. 

BAICE Support Officer, Miriam McGregor, provided coordination support for this project. Please contact Miriam for further information and to be included in our mailing list for future events:

We would also like to acknowledge the financial support from BAICE which enabled us to provide BAICE-funded bursaries to contribute to UK travel expenses for student participants. The LDG team also received technical support from Jason Sprague at BAICE for setting up the E-Forum.

Reports on the Bridging the Gap events

Tuesday September 15th. Quickfire session at the UKFIET Conference on International Education and Development (Oxford) on Bridging the Gaps: research, policy and practice in women’s literacy (Chaired by Ian Cheffy, SIL International; Speakers included Katy Newell-Jones, formerly Feed the Minds and BALID Chair; Juliet McCaffery, British Association for Literacy in Development; Gina Lontoc, Fusheng Jia, Clare Meade and Anna Robinson-Pant from LDG).

See report.




Friday October 23rd. Network Meeting 1 held at UEA. Academic research: How can it help and support NGOs in the field? Presenters, group facilitators and chairs included: Alan Rogers, Anna Robinson-Pant, Katy Newell-Jones, Carew Treffgarne, Sheila Aikman, Clare Meade, Gina Lontoc, Brian Street, Jan Eldred, Hamissou Ousseini, Catherine Jere, Pallawi Sinha and Vicky Duckworth. See report.





November 2nd – 14th: E-networking seminar based on a stimulus paper.

The E-Forum was set up and moderated by Gina Lontoc and Hamissou Ousseini from LDG. There were over 70 participants from more than 20 countries who participated in the online forum hosted on the BAICE website (with administrative support from Miriam McGregor and technical advice from Jason Sprague at BAICE). From 7th to 14th of November, individuals from various universities, academic institutions, social ministries, civil society groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and international organisations engaged in discussions around adult literacy issues in the global South/developing countries. The sessions were facilitated by a group of experts from around the world who have long experience in the area of adult learning, literacy and development.  To find out more about the e-Forum, read here.

The following enthusiastic feedback from participants (from the Philippines, Ethiopia, UK, Kenya and Bangladesh) in the E-Forum has encouraged us to look at possibilities for developing and extending this kind of on-line platform through the LDG:

“I am very grateful for this online forum because of the opportunity to explore issues which are worth exploring both from the views of NGOs and academicians. It is very inspiring to read insightful comments from people who are working in both fields: development and academic research. You can articulate really well the theoretical and political-based perspectives; at the same time, you understand the challenges we, NGOs, are facing when it comes to presenting the results of our programs and justifying the grants we receive.”

“I have really found the dialogue engaging, thought provoking and motivational.”

 “Starting from the first day of e-forum discussion on “bridging the gap”, I have been learning a lot and I have begun adjusting my lens through which I look at literacy program.  The facilitators have outstandingly managed the momentum of the discussions.”

“I thank the team for providing us such an interesting e-forum discussion that have given us chances to learn a lot. I hope there will be other chances of participating in the forum.”

 “I would like to thank you for giving me the chance to participate in this valuable forum. In many cases, the voices of females are not heard and I am thankful for giving me the change to contribute and to learn from senior professionals”.

See report.



Thursday November 26th. Network Meeting 2. NGO/INGO practical activities, developments and grey literature: how can they inform the academic research community?

See report.