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Women's acquisition of literacy skills and health knowledge in Nepal: A comparative study of nonformal education approaches

Cristine A Smith, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The goal of this dissertation is to investigate the extent of difference in effectiveness of three non-formal education approaches in helping women acquire literacy skills and/or health knowledge in Nepal, and to propose hypotheses about factors or "influences" that might explain these differences. This exploratory study provides insights that program planners, researchers and policy makers can use for focusing further research on which non-formal education program designs for women will bring about the greatest increase in literacy skills and health knowledge. Four sample groups of women were compared: (1) 74 women in three different sites who attended monthly Mothers' Group health education meetings (with no literacy instruction); (2) 38 women in two different classes who completed a 6-month basic literacy course (with no health instruction); (3) 65 women in three different classes who completed a 6-month health/literacy course and 38 of these women who completed a 3-month post-literacy/health course; and (4) 50 women in two different sites who attended neither literacy course nor Mother's Group meetings. Data related to "acquisition" included literacy test scores and health knowledge oral interview scores; data related to possible "influences" included demographic data, and information about community and classroom context. Data were coded and analyzed by standard statistical procedures. The findings indicate that non-formal education of any kind is effective in helping women acquire some degree of both literacy skills and health knowledge. Type of non-formal education approach was not significantly related to greater literacy skills acquisition but it was related to greater health knowledge acquisition. Participation in the integrated health/literacy course was related to higher levels of health knowledge than was participation in health only or literacy only non-formal education approaches. Participation in the post-literacy course was associated with greater literacy skill and health knowledge acquisition than participation in either schooling or other types of non-formal education at a basic level. In addition, literacy skill acquisition appeared to be influenced by class or community factors (hours of instruction, facilitator characteristics, economic status of the community) and health knowledge acquisition was influenced by individual factors (marital status, age, radio ownership, number of children).

Subject Area

Adult education|Continuing education|Health education|Literacy|Reading instruction|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Smith, Cristine A, "Women's acquisition of literacy skills and health knowledge in Nepal: A comparative study of nonformal education approaches" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9721492.