Learning to read and write for sustainable development

23.05.2011

Education is the key to sustainable development. This is one of the basic principles of the Cotton made in Africa initiative and reason enough for the Otto Group to join the Demand Alliance and help finance an adult literacy project in Burkina Faso. 

Illiteracy in Burkina Faso runs at around 71 per cent. The fact that almost three quarters of the population cannot read or write is a great handicap to the country’s economic development and repeatedly presents Cotton made in Africa smallholders with quite specific problems. Many cannot remember the contents of the training courses, for example, because they cannot take notes or read the training material. This means that a lot of potential is going to waste. The literacy project will help these smallholders to help themselves.

The public-private partnership (PPP) project was launched in autumn 2009 through Cotton made in Africa by the fashion company Apart, Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (German Investment and Development Company) and Welthungerhilfe. They were joined early this year by the Otto Group, which is providing concrete support for the work in Burkina Faso. “Improving literacy is key to a sustainable development process,” says Andreas Streubig, head of Corporate Responsibility in the Otto Group. Some 5,000 adults in the centre south region have had the opportunity to date to attend evening classes to learn to read and write. They reap the rewards on a daily basis, being able now for the first time to read the instructions for fertilisers, for example. Women in particular are taking advantage of this opportunity.

Cotton made in Africa is not only a supporter of the sustainable cultivation of African cotton but also sees itself as a broker for such PPP projects, which call on the combined efforts of businesses and public organisations to strengthen the social infrastructure in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Zambia and Malawi.