'Iċ-Ċavetta' Literacy Project

Testimonials – ‘Iċ-Ċavetta’ literacy toolkit

Pauline Bartolo, coordinator of our fundraising efforts for the re-run of our 'iċ-Ċavetta' literacy project, interviews two of our adult students, as well as Carmen Mamo, co-author of 'iċ-Ċavetta' literacy toolkit and tutor.


Ms Carmen Buhagiar, 61 years

At the age of 13, Carmen stopped attending school because she had to take care of her parents. She couldn’t read or write anything except for her name.

Carmen described how frustrating it used to be to receive letters and not be able to read them, always having to rely on other people to read for her. She also described how going to the supermarket was a challenge for various reasons: memorizing the entire shopping list and not being able to read expiry dates on the products. 

Another problem she used to encounter was reading road signs, and using her cell phone was a seemingly insurmountable challenge, as well as using the phone book. Receiving an SMS was quite an uncomfortable situation, as she didn’t know who it was from or what it said. Carmen explained how uncomfortable she used to feel at church when looking for song titles in the hymn book. However, she said her biggest frustration was not being able to help her two sons with their school work.

Now, after finishing the 'iċ-Ċavetta' literacy textbook 1 and half of book 2, Carmen proudly tells me how she is starting to write her life experience in a diary. Ever since she was young, she always wanted to read and write, and now, thanks to her strong will and ‘iċ-Ċavetta’, she is succeeding. She went on to explain that now she can go the supermarket with a shopping list with the initials of the shopping items she needs – she even checks expiry dates! ‘Iċ-Ċavetta’ also helped her social skills. Carmen is thrilled that she can now write her own greeting cards!

Carmen believes ‘iċ-Ċavetta’ really changed her life. Thanks to the interactive DVD, Carmen is also acquiring basic computer literacy skills. The way the toolkit is presented is addressed for adults, so she found it extremely helpful and enjoyable. She told me how she enjoys the riddles in the books – which are part of the learning process – and how she relates them to her family and friends. Carmen says the need of the toolkit is really great within society, and she thanks Paulo Freire Institute for this excellent opportunity.


Mr Mario Montebello, 52 years

Mario works in a hospital with the fire and rescue team. He used to have difficulties in writing handovers for the next shift and eventually decided to start attending the adult literacy course at the Paulo Freire Institute (PFI). Mario had some basic knowledge of letter recognition; however he couldn’t write or read whole sentences. This was a hindrance because he couldn’t express himself properly. He used to feel very frustrated.

He explains how the structure of the toolkit is well organised and sectioned and this helped him. He also uses the internet nowadays, because the DVD helped him with computer literacy. The third textbook was interesting because it also explained how to write a CV, and tackled environmental issues. 

Nowadays, Mario feels confident when it comes to writing the handovers required by his job and he strongly believes that there are many people his age who are illiterate. He also enjoys reading billboards – and the last time he received his car licence renewal form, he filled it in himself without the help of his family!


Ms Carmen Mamo, co-author and tutor of ‘iċ-Ċavetta’

Carmen explains how this toolkit is the only one of its kind. PFI collaborates with ETC (the Employment and Training Corporation), and in the run up to the conception of 'iċ-Ċavetta', Carmen continually noticed that some people not only couldn’t read, but couldn’t even recognize the letters! That’s how the idea of ‘iċ-Ċavetta’ came about – developing a Maltese literacy toolkit where learning starts with basic letter recognition. The first book consists of 30 chapters, one for each Maltese letter, and the following 2 textbooks follow to build words and finally paragraphs. The final book tackles topics such as environment, employability and CV writing. 

The ultimate aim of ‘iċ-Ċavetta’ is to enhance employability and hence, topics such as safety at work are also featured. Ms Mamo related the story about one of her students who loves cooking, but was always frustrated because she couldn’t read or write recipes. Now, she can follow recipes on books, on TV, and even write her own. Carmen believes these toolkits are extremely beneficial to combat illiteracy in Malta.

If you would like to support the fundraising campaign we are currently running to reprint the 'iċ-Ċavetta' toolkits (books, dvds, flash cards, board game etc) and offer training to help 1000 more adults overcome the obstacle of illiteracy, you may donate securely online

Read about our 'new and used bookstalls' and how you too can help us! 

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