Project Update PG001: PNG Adult Literacy Project
Young teachers and student grandmothers
ABM’s PNG Coordinator, Rachel Sandford, made her first visit to ABM’s Adult Literacy project, implemented by Anglicare PNG in March this year. She met students and staff at a literacy class taking place at St Paul’s Chapel in Lae, and found enthusiastic young teachers looking forward to teaching their students, some of them grandmothers.
Here she shares a few snippets of conversation with teachers Joseph and Clara, students Julie and Sharon, and Fr Raymond, who runs St Paul’s.
Joseph has just started teaching. “I am teaching Level 1, which is for beginners, “he says. “I’m enjoying getting to know the 27 students in my classes. They will be learning how to read and write in Tok Pisin. I have completed secondary school and did my Adult Literacy Teaching training through the Church Partnership Program. I heard about this Adult Literacy project through our Church youth group.”
Clara is also a new teacher: “I will be teaching my first adult literacy class at the Anglican Church. I have always wanted to be a teacher. I felt in my heart to be a teacher but my family didn’t have enough money to support this. I used to work in an office job, but was made redundant. My husband was working at a cement factory until three years ago, but then he was made redundant too. We moved in with my mother. I would very much like to do further study to become a Primary school teacher.”
Clara’s two children are also excited about her new teaching role.
“My children said that if I get nervous standing at the front of the class, they will stand next to me. They also told me they will help me to set up my office here at the church, and they will keep it tidy!”
Julie is one of the students. She has 10 children and 42 grandchildren. A widow, Julie is originally from the Dona area in Morobe. Having attended school until grade four Julie can read a little, usually signage, but can’t write. Julie stopped going to school when she was 10 years old, as getting there involved a full day’s walk in a mountainous area and crossing a river.
“I want to know how to write in Tok Pisin so I can write down prices in the market. Currently I have to memorise these. I also want to be able to withdraw and deposit funds into the bank, and sign my name instead of using a fingerprint. Learning to read and write will help me to write out bible passages. I also want to help my grandchildren with their School work and show them the importance of learning.
When Julie first told her family that she would be going to the classes, her children teased her that, at 59, she is too old for School and then they worried who would be at home to do the family cooking. Julie said she had made her decision and will be attending with her friend Sharon who is 81.
Julie wants to show help her grandchildren with their spiritual and mental development, by being able to read and write she will be able to participate in their lives.
Sharon is 89 and a widow with seven children and 27 grandchildren. Like Julie, she went to School until grade four, but left because she was needed at home to help her mother raise her three siblings. At 21 she left home to get married.
“I want to be able to read and write so I can access more information and make more decisions. I want to be able to read the newspaper. Learning to read and write will also help my memory and keep my brain healthy.
“I also want to start working on livelihood projects (small business) with my family, through the project. This will help me organise finances and purchase items. Currently I feel sad that I can’t support my family with their business.
“I want to encourage my grandchildren to stay in school and I want to be able to participate in their learning.”
Fr Raymond, expressed how excited he was to have this new literacy class starting, and to see so many women attending. “The class will be held in our Anglican chapel, and we have a blackboard set up and will also keep the teaching supplies and resources here at the Church. I hope that the women from the classes can use their skills to gain employment or start their own businesses. Helping the family with their livelihood will support the whole family. Many people move from the Highlands to Lae to seek work opportunities but don’t have the education required due to the remoteness of their original homes. It is important that we can offer literacy classes to improve their skills and assist in finding employment.”
The Anglicare PNG Adult Literacy Project is funded by ABM supporters and by the Australian Aid Program through the Church Partnership Program #CPP.