BALID is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) promoting adult and family literacy and numeracy as a basic human right, in the context of development. We aim to bring together organisations and individuals who believe that sharing experience about learning and literacy can help enrich workers and citizens in both the industrial and the developing world. This is because, as our header photo (of a literacy parade in Vanuatu) declares, ‘Literacy imparts longevity!’ – and much else besides.

Our aims are to:

  • promote literacy and numeracy for adults and families as an integral part of human development;
  • increase awareness of the relationship between literacy, numeracy, economic development and social change, in partnership with other appropriate organisations;
  • inform and advise governments, NGOs and the private sector on adult literacy and numeracy within the context of development;
  • contribute to programmes for adult literacy and numeracy;
  • facilitate interactions and exchanges between those working in adult literacy and numeracy programmes;
  • exchange experiences and research findings in order to inform future practice.

Whilst we welcome all comers to our events, we do encourage membership, so that we can keep in contact, inform you of upcoming meetings, and enjoy sharing experience and expertise. You are very welcome to join BALID, whether you are a student, working for an NGO or university, or just interested in literacy issues. We have various categories of membership, as explained on our application form. The benefits of membership also include reduced rates for attendance at our events, including the Informal Literacy Discussions. Please note that in all our communications we conform to the requirements of GDPR, as explained in our BALID Privacy and data protection policy

BALID is managed by an Executive Committee, which includes individual members from different sectors who wish to promote literacy, as well as academics and practitioners working and researching the field in many different parts of the world. Please click on the names to learn more about the current committee members.

BALID Executive Committee

President: Prof. Alan Rogers

Chair: Chris Millora 

Secretary: Dr Catherine Young 

Treasurer:   Dr Ian Cheffy

Committee members

Professor Gordon Ade-Ojo

Dr Mary Anderson

Tara Furlong

Naiem Maleki

Dr Juliet McCaffery

Dr Katy Newell-Jones

Suzan Voga-Duffee

The BALID committee and our members maintain both formal and informal connections to a range of organisations, and these relationships are in constant development. Links to news, reports and events in the field of literacy can also be found on our Facebook page.


IN 2017 WE PUBLISHED the second edition of our BALID book, Theory and Practice in Literacy and Development, which is downloadable for free. This is a compilation of articles based on the presentations given by literacy experts at our series of Informal Literacy Discussions in London, UK, from 2011-2015. Edited by Dr Juliet McCaffery and Professor Brian Street, the book offers helpful and varied insights into issues of literacy, focusing mainly on the social practice view of literacy for families and adults. We have a few hard copies available: they cost £15 (plus £2.25 for UK packaging and postage) and can be ordered from Dr Ian Cheffy at ian_cheffy@sil.org


PROFESSOR BRIAN STREET, our long-time President, champion and inspiration, died peacefully on 21 June 2017 after a long battle with cancer. He is very sadly missed, and we have instituted an annual memorial lecture in his honour. Brian will be remembered by all his former students and his professional colleagues for the help, support and encouragement he unfailingly gave them. He will live on through his many publications and his seminal work on developing the theory of literacy as social practice.



In addition to the Informal Literacy Discussions that we have been running for many years, BALID has organised several seminars in the UK, which are listed below: please make sure you follow the links to the full reports. In the past we have also organised conferences both in the UK and abroad, and this is something that we hope to revive. 

Models of Literacy Learning (2018)

You can find the full report here.

Weaving Literacy through Lifelong Learning  (2016)

The full report of our all-day seminar held on Friday 18th November 2016, at the UCL Institute of Education in London, UK, is now available. The day provided a vibrant and creative forum for multi-sectoral dialogue, exploring the role of literacy in enhancing lifelong learning. It was chaired by Professor Alan Tuckett and our keynote speaker was Dr Ulrike Hanemann of UNESCO’s Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL). Please do watch the snippets of our discussions and the key points made by Dr Ulrike Hanemann. This seminar was organised in conjunction with the UCL Institute of Education, BAICE, and the UIL in Hamburg.

Dr Hanemann has recently published an article entitled ‘Lifelong Literacy: some trends and issues in conceptualising and operationalising literacy from a lifelong learning perspective’ in the International Review of Education.  Here is the abstract from her article.

In a fast-changing and highly inequitable world, lifelong learning is becoming increasingly important, not only as a key organising principle for all forms of education and learning but also as an absolute necessity for everyone. It is particularly important for disadvantaged individuals and groups who have been excluded from or failed to acquire basic competencies through formal schooling. Within a lifelong learning framework, literacy and numeracy are viewed as foundation skills which are the core of basic education and indispensable to full participation in society. This article discusses recent developments in conceptualising literacy as a foundation of lifelong learning. Starting from the evolving notions of adult literacy, the author identifies some current trends, the most important being that literacy is now perceived as a learning continuum of different proficiency levels. Dichotomous states of being either “literate” or “illiterate” no longer apply. She analyses (1) findings extracted from UNESCO Member States’ national reports submitted to the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) for the 2nd Global Report on Adult Learning and Education; (2) a desk study of national literacy campaigns and programmes as well as (3) some recent developments in formal education. Her suggested three-dimensional analytical framework considers literacy as a lifelong and life-wide learning process and as part of lifelong learning systems. She draws a number of conclusions for policy and practice of literacy as a foundation of lifelong learning. These conclusions are a timely contribution to the ongoing post-2015 education debate, in particular to the challenge of how to mainstream youth and adult literacy into the implementation of the sustainable development agenda for 2015–2030.

An Uppingham Seminar was held from 7-9 April 2016 under the title ‘The sustainable Eduation Development Goals and Adult Learning Programmes: why have adults largely been excluded in the past and are there signs of a change?’ For more information, please email info@uppinghamseminars.co.uk

Bridging the Gap (2015)

BALID and The Literacy Working Group (LWG) supported by NIACE and BAICE, linked up with the University of East Anglia (UEA), in order to organise three free ‘Bridging the Gap’ seminars addressing the issue of dialogue and cooperation between researchers and NGOs in the field of women’s literacy. The first was held at the UKFIET conference in Oxford in September 2015, the second was at UEA on 23rd October, and the last was held on 26th November at The Mothers’ Union in London. Please do read the full report.

BAICE Thematic Forum: Invisible or hidden? Challenging discourses around ‘skills deficit, was held on Wednesday 6th May 2015 at the University of East Anglia (UEA), UK.