Adult literacy schools are critical tools that can be used to empower a community and by understanding the power of being literate, adult learners would in turn encourage their children to go to school.
This was stated at a day-long Adult Literacy Stakeholder Sustainability workshop held at the National Agriculture Research Centre (NARI) conference room at 9 Mile outside Lae on Friday 28 October.
Facilitated by Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture (WGJV), the workshop brought together key partners to formulise a sustainability plan to carry the literacy program forward in WGJV’s Project footprint. It stressed the importance of stakeholder partnership between WGJV, the government, landowner associations and the people.
WGJV General Manager for Sustainability and External Relations, David Wissink, was happy to see adult literacy schools operate in the Project area. He said education is key for them to be prepared for the changes that will come.
“As teachers you understand the value of educating adults. You’re empowering them to stand up and talk, to read the bible, to sign their names, to open a bank account – to have a more fulfilling life. That’s very important,” he said. “You’re also preparing them to understand the changes and be ready to work, either with the Project or somewhere else. We’re starting with adult literacy because most of the villagers don’t have work experience. These trainings could lead to work-place literacy,” he said.
Participant and Adult Literacy teacher from remote Hekeng Village, Esther Cletus, has seen a positive change in her community. She has 18 adult learners in her class, 16 of them mothers who had never attended school.
She said they are now able to read and write. “They came to learn because they wanted to be able to read the bible. For years during Sunday service, only one person read the bible and for these mothers to be able to read the bible in church for the first time is empowering,” Esther said.
“I teach two classes level one and level two. For level 2 students, I’m teaching them how to do banking; to fill out a deposit slip and withdrawal form and also teaching them how to use a mobile phone.”
Independent Consultants, Lesley Bennett and Maggie Kua-Dingi were engaged by WGJV to assess and evaluate the adult literacy program.
Ms Bennett applauded WGJV for identifying the need for literacy and actually doing something about it. “Literacy and Numeracy skills enable villagers to understand and capitalise on any benefits or opportunities that may arise. It’s a step in the right direction and if supported, as the potential of maximising those benefits and bringing more development to communities, whose chances of employment would be much greater in the future,” she said.
She said the response has been positive but highlighted the need for communities to be more involved, to come up with strategies to support and sustain the program from a community level. “A number of learners have come out saying that the training has helped them to start their small businesses, help their children to do their homework and to be more aware of health issues. The future of the program now is to include more life skilling so that the skills they learn in the schools can be applied to practical everyday activities,” she said.
Seven adult literacy schools were initiated by WGJV in the area in 2012. Since then 978 people have gone through the program. Timini and Towangola Adult Literacy and Numeracy (ALN) schools are preparing to graduate their first batch of students at the end of the year, a first for the ALN schools in the region.