Paul Jurmo

In July 2021, ProLiteracy published a paper by Paul entitled “Basic Skills for Community-Oriented Development: A Resource Book for Educators and Other Partners.” The document explores the history of basic skills education in developing countries and how to build on that to develop effective services for diverse populations.   Paul says the publication contains information about CIE’s work and draws upon his experience at CIE. 


Paul has been a prolific writer on adult education, producing learning materials, opinion pieces and books. See his website for his numerous other publications on adult education. [9-21]


In April of 2018 we received an update from Paul. Olga (my wife and also a UMass graduate) and I just completed five years in Tonga, where I served as Director of Programming and Training and Country Representative for a national primary school English Literacy Project run by Peace Corps/Tonga in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and other partners.  (Olga served there as Peace Corps Medical Officer.) 


The English Literacy Project was (and still is) fantastically rich.  It was carried out by nearly 100 Peace Corps Volunteers and various Tongan staff and partners at local and national levels. The seven objectives included development of student-centered practices that fit the Tongan English curriculum and culture; "collaborative capacity building" (helping Tongans adopt those student-centered literacy practices); relevant and sustainable uses of books, libraries, and technology; integration of English literacy with other subjects (especially health and environmental literacy); finding ways to involve parents and other community stakeholders; and providing literacy supports for young children, teens, and adults outside our main target populations (of primary and middle schoolers); and helping children with special needs.


In early 2018 my article on the English Literacy Project in Tonga which I led for five years was published in the Unesco journal "Prospects" in an issue edited by John Comings.  The article can be found here.


On a personal note, Olga and I returned from Tonga in mid-October (where we both worked on the staff of the Peace Corps post there) and have been living in Baltimore since then.   Olga is doing temporary assignments as Peace Corps Medical Officer in posts around the world (e.g., Madagascar, Ghana, and — currently — Lesotho).   [04-18]


Paul also noted that “Oddly enough, Mike Basile worked for Peace Corps in Tonga years ago, just before we got to know him at CIE.”


Paul served as a consultant for World Education in 2012, which allowed him to make a series of visits to Zimbabwe. “I'm providing technical support to the NFE component they've added to their Bantwana project for orphans and vulnerable children there," he said, "[It's] very interesting work, which allows me to draw on similar projects I've done in the U.S.”


From 2005 to 2010, Paul was Dean of Economic Development and Continuing Education at Union County College, a community college in northern New Jersey. He designed and led a number of innovative projects related to career pathways in various industries, integration of educational technologies into basic skills curricula, use of Equipped for the Future standards and piloting of a prisoner re-entry initiative. He also led a team that created a career exploration and work readiness program for out-of-school youth.


After CIE, Paul worked in various roles in adult literacy, adult education and workplace education, including teaching at New York University and consulting for the NYC Transport Workers’ Union, New York Immigrant Coalition, and Rutgers University’s Center for Workforce Development. He also served on the board of the New Jersey Association for Lifelong Learning and volunteered with the Grassroots Literacy Coalition in NYC.


He reflected in 2010:

[In] my 25 years or so in US adult literacy and workforce development programs, the reality is that most of the planning, intercultural sensitivity, customization, political navigation... that I've had to deal with every day… are very similar to the challenges I've faced in my international work.


Paul also worked for 5 years in The Gambia doing literacy and numeracy programs, three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer and two years working for a USAID-funded NGO which specialized in education for farmer cooperatives. He wrote the CIE publication Dialogue Is Not a Chaste Event based on the NGO experience. [01/17]






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CIE Graduate