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Adult Literacy

CW4WAfghan’s approach to adult literacy education is based on a perceptual learning method that optimizes reading learning in adults, developed by Dr. Helen Abadzi, a cognitive psychologist who uses evidence from neuroscience to understand how adults learn reading. The method has been tested in multiple languages and script combinations in different countries, and was tested for the first time in Afghanistan by CW4WAfghan in 2019, under the guidance of Dr. Abadzi.

Besides the way the letters are presented, the method emphasizes repeated practice to gain automaticity. Teachers must be trained in guiding students in such practice in literacy classrooms. Testing has shown consistently much better outcomes than with other methods.


If all students in low-income countries left school with elementary reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty. In other words, ensuring that those who study reading actually learn it could result in a 12% cut in global poverty.”

Source: Reading: A Way Out of Poverty

Resources on Literacy in Afghanistan

CW4WAfghan has developed a successful model of adult literacy education called Afghanistan Reads! Here, we share some useful resources that reflect how we approach literacy education in Afghanistan.

Recommended Reading

Abadzi, H. (2008). Efficient Learning for the Poor: New Insights into Literacy Acquisition for Children. International Review of Education.

Abadzi, H. (2006). Efficient Learning for the Poor: Insights from the Frontier of Cognitive Neuroscience. World Bank. 

Abadzi, H. (2005). Adult Illiteracy, Brain Architecture, and Empowerment of the Poor. Adult Education and Development.

Royer, J.M., Abadzi, H. & Kinda, J. (2004). The Impact of Phonological-Awareness and Rapid-Reading Training on the Reading Skills of Adolescent and Adult Neoliterates. International Review of Education.

Teale, William H. (2008). Reading Education Internationally Published in Literacy Daily, contains many recommendations that reflect the way we work in our Afghanistan Reads! adult literacy program. The article was translated by CW4WAfghan staff member Abdul Rahim Parwani, for the 8am newspaper in Farsi (2019). Read it in Farsi.

UNESCO (2015). Learning Families: Intergenerational Approaches to Literacy Teaching and Learning.