An Aboriginal Adult Literacy Campaign Pilot Study in Australia using Yes I Can

Bob Boughton
Donna Ah Chee
Jack Beetson
Deborah Durnan
Jose Chala LeBlanch


In 2012, the remote Aboriginal community of Wilcannia in western NSW hosted the first Australian pilot of a Cuban mass adult literacy campaign model known as Yes I Can. The aim was to investigate the appropriateness of this model in Aboriginal Australia. Building on an intensive community development process of ‘socialisation and mobilisation’, sixteen community members with very low literacy graduated from the basic literacy course, with the majority continuing on into post-literacy activities, further training and/or employment. The pilot was initiated by the National Aboriginal Adult Literacy Campaign Steering Committee (NAALCSC) consisting of Aboriginal leaders from the education and health sectors, and managed by the University of New England (UNE), working in partnership with the Wilcannia Local Aboriginal Land Council as the local lead agency. The pilot was supported by a Cuban academic who came to Australia for this purpose, and included a Participatory Action Research (PAR) evaluation led by the UNE Project Manager. In this paper, members of the project team and the NAALCSC describe the pilot and reflect on its outcomes.

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