Adult literacy program equips students for life

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Pastor Linus Tokile with 17 learners holding their Level 1 and 2 certificates.

New adult literacy classes run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are changing the lives of adults and young people (aged 14 to 45) who missed out on formal education during their childhood.

A collaboration between the women’s ministries, education and ADRA departments of the New Britain New Ireland Mission (NBNIM), the program hosts a wholistic curriculum that addresses not only literacy, but also numeracy and life-skills.

Seventeen students graduated from the program in November last year, each receiving a certificate. Representatives who attended the ceremony included NBNIM education director Richard Waikite, women’s ministry director Dianne Pelap, ADRA PNG adult literacy coordinator Bernard Paru and Pastor Linus Tokile, who helps run the school.

In order to graduate, students must complete certain requirements in various areas of learning. During life-skills classes, students learn tailoring, knitting and sewing, with specific outcomes required including learning the difference between butterfly sleeves and open full sleeves.

To learn mathematical concepts, students cut watermelon into different types of fractions and counted coconuts. Although rudimentary, these skills are crucial for these “zero learners” (dropped out of primary school in Grade 4 or lower), who missed out on such skills required to bridge the gap from informal to formal education.

In addition, literacy skills were primarily taught through Bible reading, both in Tok Pisin and English.

A highlight of last year’s cohort was the baptism of Georgina Taralima, the daughter of one of the students. Two families of students also made a stand for Jesus.

Moving forward, the school is able to continue this year thanks to the support of Francis Rainer—a ward member at the school—who offered the school a piece of land on which to operate.

“Thank you NBNIM administration for the great support in recognising the importance of adult literacy and the memoranda of understanding signed to move forward in this special ministry,” said Ms Pelap.