Gwenyth Beale recently completed linguistic and literacy training in Melbourne and has joined Pioneer Bible Translators (PBT) as a Literacy Specialist. This role includes training and guiding a team of literacy workers from many language groups in the Madang Province, which has about 164 languages.
“I grew up in New Guinea, the middle child of Frank and Win Beale, who were pioneer missionaries for Churches of Christ in Papua New Guinea. When we left I had no idea that I might one day come back to live and serve. My tasks as a Literacy Specialist will include: continuing to work with mother tongue speakers to get the curriculum ready for use in their schools; training nationals (including women) to become literacy teachers in their own languages; and helping people develop a library of resources to use with literacy. One way to develop reading materials is to run writers’ workshops, where literate speakers write short stories that are meaningful and engaging and can be used for reading.
Imagine being a mother who is unable to read or write. With no village school, your children are also growing up illiterate. The only book in your house is a Bible, which you want to be able to read but can’t, and it is too hard for your children to learn from. In your community, less than 43% of people can read or write; two-thirds of which are women. You want to go to other villages where they have teachers so you can learn the basics, but you have to look after your children. What can you do? We know that if women can read, their children are more likely to be able to read. My hope is to be able to run workshops specifically for women to help them become literacy teachers. But to provide for women in this way, I will need to travel to villages, stay in bush housing, often with limited ‘phone coverage, train with no electricity, and take everything needed with me”
Pioneer Bible Translators (PBT) Papua New Guinea have developed an elementary curriculum for Prep and Year 1 in collaboration with the Summer Institute of Linguistics, and they are gradually working with mother-tongue speakers to translate it into their languages and have the resources translated, produced, laminated, and boxed for use in the villages.