A Bridge to Knowing God, Literacy

Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX

What was I thinking?! In January, I enrolled in two classes at Texas Woman’s University (TWU). It took some effort to figure out the modern process of enrollment. Nowadays you don’t have to show up on campus to do anything. I just wanted to take two classes so in the end, I found what I was looking for at TWU. Statistics an undergraduate course, and Research Methods (graduate) were both partially online courses. By God’s grace I weathered the onslaught of learning all manner of new knowledge! By April, I think I understood what it means to be a student in today’s society.

Why was I taking statistics and research methods? Well, the notion occurred to me in 2012 as I observed the poor quality of teaching and poor student achievement in elementary schools. Then, in 2013 the government in Papua New Guinea (PNG) decided to return to an English only policy in all grade levels—including English instruction in elementary grades. This decision triggered a variety responses from education researchers in PNG. One researcher told another that there was too little empirical (concrete) research to refute or support local language education. We see concrete results when we help communities start literacy programs for their children. In practical ways, teachers who have used local language instruction with relevant teaching methods have proven their validity. The problem is that too few have provided scholarly evidence to prove the results at university and government levels. How could I help this situation? I was advised to start with taking a couple of courses. Needless to say, I learned a lot more than statistics and research methods as I walked with the Lord in this venture.

What was I thinking? I was thinking about the big picture for Papua New Guinea. We do Bible translation and we do what we can to help people read the translated Word in their languages but we are not blind to educational needs of the rest of the country. People that have benefited from the translated Word and our literacy programs are now part of the Christian influence in the church, education, politics and business. I can help Papua New Guinean Christians impact future generations both spiritually and academically by not only training trainers of elementary teachers but also I can multiply my efforts with the academic community by providing them with concrete evidence of the value of local language education.

As Kevin and I look towards finishing the Notsi New Testament we would also like to leave concrete evidence in place that affirms the local languages of PNG as tools for initial literacy, as bridges for continuing education in English and most of all as a bridge to knowing the God of the Bible that is in their heart languages.