2016 seems a blur with all the travel back and forth. We remember starting 2016 off with the struggle of trying to address some literacy and education issues during the [tooltip text=”Papua New Guinea”]PNG[/tooltip] Christmas period—December to February. It began to feel like we were up against a spiritual stronghold. I believe it was because of prayer partners and prayer warriors here in the Lossu community that we succeeded in facilitating changes in the Elementary Board of Management by April and eventually training new teacher candidates in July. It is slow and tedious work facing resistance from existing teaching staff and new reluctant Board members.
In August, I returned to Ukarumpa (our mission’s headquarters in the highlands) and presented a paper on early writing among the Tigak language community at the Linguistic Society of Papua New Guinea—now published in conference proceedings. In September, while Kevin was at [tooltip text=”New Ireland Translation Institute”]NITI [/tooltip] with Notsi translators, I ran the same phonics course with the Mandara language group in the Tabar Islands. Praise God for a pleasant two hour speed boat ride on calm seas. What a difference in community interest, enthusiasm and organization from the Notsi language community. It’s was a great story to go back and tell the Notsi what it could be like if people worked together.
In October, Kevin was off to Chang Mai, Thailand, by way of his beloved Philippines for a computer conference and I was off to Ukarumpa to coordinate a bridging workshop called the Vernacular Path to English (VPE). It was great to be back in the cool mountain climate and refreshing to have an international team of five to run this 3-week course with a small group of elementary teachers from four provinces, including two Tigak elementary teachers from New Ireland Province.
In the midst of preparations for the [tooltip text=”Vernacular Path to English”]VPE[/tooltip] course, another colleague and I were striving to submit a proposal for World Bank funding to run writers courses. We did not win the grant but hope to find another donor for helping Papua New Guinea language communities produce much needed children’s books.
We praise the Lord for our progress in Bible translation and literacy with the Notsi and we believe we are on course to finish the New Testament by 2020! Please see the table on the next page.
The Vernacular Path to English (VPE) Course (August 5-19) is a joint venture between SIL and the National Department of Education. VPE is designed to help rural children bridge from education in their home languages to English the National language of Papua New Guinea. SIL literacy consultants published the VPE Resource Manual, to equip 16 educators from the National Curriculum Development Division and different government institutions. These individuals will take the training back to their provinces. Ultimately Elementary trainers will deliver the training to elementary teachers throughout Papua New Guinea. Gertrude spent four weeks helping colleagues organize and teach the course.
The first half of 2014 has sped by in a blur. By mid January, Gertrude was at Ukarumpa helping colleagues with a Vernacular to English trial workshop. This course will be repeated later in the year lecturers of teachers’ colleges who will train elementary trainers and elementary teachers. This course was preceded by a phonics course for early childhood education in home languages. Gertrude spent weeks tweaking the Creative Phonics trainers manual and participants workbook. These were being prepared for an elementary trainers in-service to deliver the method to elementary teachers in their provinces. By March, Gertrude found herself at Divine Word University in Madang assisting the National Department of Education to develop Standards Based Curriculum statements for the nation. It was a great experience and one which again reminded Gertrude of the wealth of home-grown experience and expertise yet to be tapped.
The month of May found Gertrude back in New Ireland doing more literacy training The first was a one-week Creative Phonics in-service for 100 elementary teachers in partnership with elementary trainers of the province. Some elementary teachers had attended the national in-service and were a big help in managing training for such a large group. It was a delight to have one of my literacy trainees from the 1990s, Miriam Langas, who helped most of all. She is now a head teacher at Putput Elementary School. The second workshop was during the month-long NITI Literacy Course from May 21 to June 21. Elementary teachers were permitted to join this course and it was great to see lay-people trained to go back to isolated areas of New Ireland to assist in the education of young children.
For the longest time Gertrude has been training to a number of ladies in the village to teach an adult literacy class. At long last they started a class the every Wednesday morning as part of the Ladies fellowship weekly meeting. It was well attended by 14 ladies with a few from other villages. There were two ladies from other villages who expressed interest receiving training so they could start literacy classes in their villages.
By the time that we left for furlough they had completed 3 of the 12 classes. Please pray that they will be able to complete the full course for the ladies. There is also plans for them to do the same course for the men and young adults.
One of the Highlights of the year for us is the time we work at NITI. I am working the Notsi on translating the Gospel of Matthew. We are very pleased with the progress that we are making. We also are in the process of reviewing the Book of Philippians in preparation for consultant check at the next NITI course. This has been a most productive time for us working together.
Gertrude was able to prepare well and deliver the one-month literacy training course for central and southern New Ireland at the NITI. She worked with 18 participants from nine different language groups. This was building upon the work they had completed in the previous courses.
In March I developed an allergy that developed into asthma. Dr. Jeff recommended, “Don’t go back to Lossu village until the bat problem is resolved or you might have a more severe asthma reaction.” So, I stayed away from Lossu and prayed that the Lord will speed the repairs on the house. I had some idea of how I would occupy myself in Kavieng, but surprisingly, another a special opportunity arose to serve Tungag elementary teachers.
Since the S.I.L. Center where I was staying in Kavieng was at full occupancy, I gladly accepted the invitation to go do a literacy in-service for elementary school teachers in Taskul District, a group of beautiful islands northwest of Kavieng. Over 100 teachers attended the four-day in-service at Kung Island. All of them speak Tungag, the largest language group in New Ireland Province whose population is about 23,000. Although I had trained some Tungag literacy teachers 20 years ago, little had been done to maintain the supply of curriculum materials and instruction in their language. Consequently, their students were not learning to read by grade three! Although much more is needed, I was able to help them develop reading readiness and primer drafts for publication. Their need epitomizes the needs of elementary educators throughout the province and probably the whole country. Read more…
February Gertrude lead another Literacy course for the three language groups, the Notsi, and two other languages close by, Nalik and Notsi-Mandak. It was a two week teacher training course to provide training for leaders from different villages to be able to start an adult literacy class. Often people will know how to read English or Tok Pisin (the national trade language) but they struggle reading in their own language. This course with its materials helps them bridge the gap to be able to develop reading fluency in their own language.