Ways to facilitate workshops with illiterate or low educated people

Give your photocamera to a group of students and ask them to make a photoserie of the most attractive touristic places in town. This is what my teacher did when I attended a language school in the South of Spain. When we came back we had a fantastic conversation about the most appealing touristic places in Cadiz, seen through the eyes of foreign students.

Imagine you work in a context with illiterate or low educated people. You are asked to facilitate an evaluation assessing what has changed in people’s lifes?  Behavioural  changes which have been taking place with the different stakeholders in the project. While working with illiterate or low educated people there are various ways to share insights and perspectives ensuring equitable participation:
1.       Conduct a workshop using visuals
Instruct people to build a story based on photos or pictures. Or ask people to visualize their ideas by drawing. Discuss the visuals afterwards on an interactive way.

2.       Participate by using oral exchange
Story telling is an universal tool to share knowledge and experiences. Focused group conversations under a relaxed and safe atmosphere enable people, who can not read or write, to participate orally on an equitable way.                                                                           
3.       Learning by doing and working together
Working together and learning by doing enables people to understand the situations when dealing with complex issues. Asking questions of inquiry and verbal exchange and working on the same activities are ways to evaluate on an informal way.

4.       Adapt yourself to the local way of communication
Many countries with a high number of low educated and illiterate people have a culture of strong hierarichal differences. In these contexts communication is mostly very structured. Questions and instructions are very short and simple. Repetition is a necessity to follow-up on how information is used and shared.
5.       Create conditions that fit to the physical environment of communication
Fit to the local physical conditions on how people communicate. If people discuss their matters under the tree or outside in the field, create situations as a facilitator that match the local physical conditions of communication. Young people prefer to do their activities with music on the background.  So try to match their world of doing things and create an evironment with feels comfortable for them.

Challenge yourself as facilitator!
Photos, visuals and audio are increasingly influencing our way of communication. The way on how illiterate/ low educated people and well educated people communicate will become closer and more universal. So challenge yourself as a falitator to use non-written means of communication in your workshops. It brings people in a different mindset and helps to build bridges between people with different educational backgrounds.


  1. thanks very much for your large information .and knowledge full description . i think it is sus a topi that many kinds of people face many problem. thanks for this.

    Information visualization Low


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