Teaching Literacy in Papua New Guinea
Wanting to be actively involved in the Year of Literacy sponsored by the United Nations, and concerned about the difficulties Papua New Guinean children face in entering a school system based on the Australian model, one PCV English teacher designed a unique response. He solicited volunteers from his tenth grade classes to serve as village literacy teachers to work with pre-school children.
Six students volunteered, attending weekly meetings to plan and implement the program. The PCV taught the students basic literacy methods and techniques, discussing the issues involved with young students having to learn to read and write in English without ever having mastered these same activities in their local language. The students themselves designed the lesson plans, using local stories, poetry, and songs as materials, thereby involving parents and older village members as well. In an effort to discourage reliance on expensive materials, the students were set to their task with pencil and notebook only.
The PCV could not follow up to see the children's progress once they entered school, but his volunteer teachers showed continued enthusiasm and support for the program. Two, in fact, went on to University to become teachers.
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