by Edwin Fidelis – EM TV, Lae
According to the National Research Institute, more than half of Papua New Guinea’s 7 million people can’t read or write. And those who make a big portion of PNG’s illiterates, are adults.
Adult literacy teachers in Lae, who have run literacy courses, say in order to achieve tangible developments, PNG needs to educate both children and adults to read and write.
Moreisa Kepas has been an adult literacy teacher in Morobe, for six years. She began teaching adults literacy courses in her church, and realised that many men and women who go to church on Sunday’s can’t read their bibles.
Lucy Joe, is a success story of the adult literacy program run by Moreisa at Lae’s Nawae block. She is a grandmother and hasn’t been to school and the adult literacy courses run by Moreisa, have given her hope in life.
As PNG’s economy grows, different sets of classes are emerging. Those who have the money to send their children to schools, while those who don’t have these conveniences, remove their children from the formal education system.
The problem becomes more difficult when they grow older.
One of the objectives of the national government’s, in the Millennium Development Goal, is to achieve 70 per cent literacy rate by 2025, including addressing adult illiteracy.
And government agencies, churches and NGO’s were expected to be funded by the government in order to carry out the work.
But over the years, there has been very little impact on the majority of PNG’s illiterate population.
The same concern has been echoed by international organisations such as the UN and UNESCO who continued to remind Papua New Guinea about the growing illiteracy rate.
Many argue that PNG is accustomed to oral history and not reading and writing; they say that there is a possibility that this has contributed to the high illiteracy rate amongst adults.