Family Literacy, Indigenous Learning and Sustainable Development

Full Project Name: Family literacy, indigenous learning and sustainable development: Proof of concept pilot

Project Code: R208094 (Global Research Translation Award - GRTA)

Project Funder: UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) for ODA-eligible Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), through the University of East Anglia

Project Duration: From October 1, 2019 to December 31, 2021

Main Project website


This project was launched in Manila, the Philippines in November 2019 as one of the four components with in the overarching project “Meeting the SDGs: Creating innovative infrastructures and police solutions to support sustainable development in Global South communities”.  It was initiated aiming to explore indigenous and intergenerational learning and practices among different communities of partner countries. It also aims to find a way to develop bottom-up approaches to family literacy and learning in Government programs. In general, the project on family literacy, indigenous learning and sustainable development aims to investigate how family literacy could help to tackle the broader challenges signaled in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

In Ethiopia, particularly, the project aims to provide a base for initiating the policy makers to provide relevant policy/strategy and programs for family literacy and learning, which isn’t available yet.

The project includes ethnographic research studies carried out by each partner institution in their own contexts on indigenous and intergenerational learning and family literacy. The findings have been disseminated to local and international stakeholders bringing their attention to the possible contributions of indigenous and intergenerational learning and family literacy to the sustainable development of their countries.

BDU team conducted its study in three sites, Bahir Dar city, Awra Amba community and Injibara and Tilili towns in Awi Zone. These sites were chosen purposely for the following reasons. Bahir Dar city, the capital of Amhara region, is a home for communities and families with variety indigenous learning practices. Furthermore, as a largest city in the region it is exposed to modern and digital technologies so it would be a good place to see how the modern and the indigenous practices interact. Awra Amba, a self-made community is known to set up new or existing environments that would nurture inter/generational learning and literacy. They have established a system in which everyone would be engage in learning. The community also sets example of how some indigenous beliefs or practices could be unlearned. Awi Zone, has a different culture and language and endowed with rich and unique intergenerational learning and practices such as bamboo crafting, horn crafting, fly whisk making etc.

In Bahir Dar 3 families, in Awra Amba 4 families, and in Awi Zone 2 from Tilili and 4 from Injibara were included in the study. The study looked into how these families learn indigenous knowledge and transfer to others. The study focused on intergenerational learning experiences of families with two or more generations and who are engaged in weaving, bamboo crafting, horn crafting, fly whisk making and learning and literacy in day to day lives.

This project continues to run various impact activities until December 2021. It aims to help improve health, nutrition, education, and environment issues in developing countries. The GRTA funding is provided by the UK government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The project partners carrying out the research and impact activities are University of Malawi from Malawi, Tribhuvan University Research Center for Educational Innovation and Development (CERID) in Nepal, Bahir Dar University here in Ethiopia, University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines and School of Education and Lifelong Learning and School of International Development, UEA, UK.