Correction to Story on "Learning Our Way Out" | Teachers College Columbia University

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Correction to Story on "Learning Our Way Out"

Inside regrets that in our Winter 2011 issue, a story on TC alumna Jane Boorstein's family planning project in rural Ethiopia contained a number of errors. The story erroneously stated that the project, Learning Our Way Out (LOWO), is no longer in operation. In fact, it continues to this day, now under the aegis of TC's Associate Vice Provost's Office. The program was not funded by USAID, as the story reported, but instead by the World Bank and the Gates Foundation. In a recent conversation, Ms. Boorstein also made some additional points that our story failed to capture:

“Usually family planning organizations in developing countries attempt to motivate rural women to use contraception by explaining how these services would benefit them. By comparison, the LOWO approach to family planning emphasizes the power of dialogue over teaching. For example, a village woman tells one of the peer facilitator trained by the program that she has to walk further than she used to in order to collect fire wood for her cooking. To help her understand the rational for family planning, the facilitator asks her to figure out why the situation has changed.  Eventually she realizes that the population of her village is growing and will continue growing.  What can change that?

“LOWO is based on the premise that village women and men, guided by trained peer facilitators, can learn to talk together to identify population-related problems.  The concept is deceptively simple but it involves complex cultural and logistical elements. The goal is to create a setting that generates and supports demand for contraceptive services as an integral part of community health and well-being. The program’s philosophy is to generate behavioral change by helping people understand that family planning is essential to the economic welfare and social well-being of both the family and the larger community.”

Published Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011


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