Katila, South Darfur: After Awatif Abdelrazig Adam attended several literacy classes in Hazara village, she could write her name on the attendance list. “[This] gave me confidence, and if I could not write my name, I would not have participated in the discussion that followed.”

Literacy classes for women and young people in Katila locality, South Darfur, supported by Darfur Community Peace and Stability Fund (DCPSF) partner Sudanese Development Call Organization (NIDAA), are bridges between communities in conflict. The classes use knowledge and learning to try to end to a culture of revenge.

Katila locality has witnessed tribal conflict over the last five years as well as observed clashes between government forces and armed opposition groups in 2015. This caused displacement and resulted in tension among farmers and pastoralists, as well as other groups. At the same time, people who have been in conflict, also have much in common that bring them together: traditional tribal alliances, a shared Sufi heritage and shared interests in sharing resources and trade.

DCPSF’s partner NIDAA supported four Community Based Reconciliation Committees (CBRMs) to resolve community-level conflicts before they escalate.

During the planning phase of the project, the partner assessed high rates of illiteracy– as high as 80% among women. Improving community literacy – particularly women’s literacy- was key to building trust between these communities. People reported that this is one of the leading factors fueling tribal conflicts in the area, noting that illiteracy is linked to a culture of revenge. Reading and education were, by contrast, understood to provide a wider scope of knowledge and a stronger sense of the collective shared values within and among communities.

In particular, learning to read Arabic, mitigates communal conflict, because it opens doors for women to connect to one another, both through the shared task of learning, but also through communal study of religious texts praising peace and rejecting violence. This facilitated in connecting women of different communities, which are in conflict.

The project in partnership with the state Ministry of Education, designed three interlinked activities to address this challenge.

1. Classes for women: First, twenty volunteers were trained as teachers, and 19 of them managed to start classes. Around 570 people enrolled in the classes – 557 of them were women.

2. Classes for “out of school youth” (from 9-14 grade) Thirty-five children, who dropped out of the school, and do not have other opportunities to re-enter, enrolled in literacy classes in Khor Shamam village to complete 2 years syllabus and then enrolled back to school programme.

3. Provision of supplies to the villages: Blackboards, notebooks, teachers’ guidance books, chalk and pens were provided for both teachers and students.

Classes attracted students from diverse age and ethnic groups, providing an opportunity to work together in a friendly space and enabled to increase trust and confidence. The project even had to expand the number of courses offered to meet the high demand. Women and the broader community agreed that literacy was useful for reducing community tensions (see above survey), bringing groups together and supporting more in-depth peacebuilding learning and conversations.

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