Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group

BALID Informal Literacy Discussions

BALID Informal Literacy Discussions

Presenters: Juliet McCaffery and Katy Newell-Jones (Secretary and Chair, BALID (British Association for Literacy in Development))

Juliet McCaffery, PhD, has specialised in literacy, gender and equalities for over 30 years working in the US, Brighton and London. She also worked for 3 years as gender and development officer at the British Council. She is now an education consultant and has worked in Sub-Saharan Africa,he Indian sub-continent and in Egypt and Yemen. Her PhD research was on the educational experiences of English Gypsies and Irish Travellers. She was delighted to work on the Learning Together Across the Generations pack for UIL. She has a number of publications on literacy including Developing Adult Literacy co-authored with Merrifield and Millican (2007) and Access, Agency and Assimilation: exploring literacy among Gypsies and Travellers (2012).

Katy Newell-Jones, PhD, is chair of the British Association for Literacy in Development (BALID) and is a consultant in learning and teaching with a strong focus on literacy in development. Her interest in literacy as a social practice dates from her time as a basic skills tutor and trainer of trainers in the UK in the early 1980s, during which time she was first involved in intergenerational learning. Since 1992, Katy has been involved in supporting capacity building of a range of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) overseas, during which she has developed a strong interest in the role of literacy in post-conflict and other challenging contexts. Working on the UIL UNESCO resource pack Learning Together Across the Generations, was an opportunity to learn from a range of family learning programmes across the world, identifying together common threads and innovative ideas to share. Katy has a number of publications on literacy including Storytelling: a tool for peacebuilding (2012), Education and rights: a toolkit for facilitators (2013) and Literacy and numeracy for trade: a toolkit for facilitators (2014).


The British Association for Literacy in Development (BALID) is a long established organisation which has undertaken many different literacy related activities over the last 25 years. In 2011, we started organising Informal Literacy Discussions (ILDs) which provide opportunities to showcase and discuss diverse adult literacy initiatives from around the world and key themes relating to adult literacy. These initiatives are relevant to and rooted in UK practices as much as best practices from around the world. BALID has recently published a compilation of some of these ILDs including literacy among Gypsies and Travellers in the UK, in and out of school learning in Brazil, literacy publishing in Nigeria and an exploration of the extent to which literacy practices taught as social practices result in transferable literacy skills.

The BALID Carousel will be an opportunity to hear about our work, to view copies of the book and to hear about our programme for the year ahead. Last autumn we organised an extended seminar on Weaving Literacy Through Lifelong Learning with Ulrike Hanneman from UNESCO UIL. We will be announcing another extended seminar this autumn and RaPAL members might like to offer to host an ILD.

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