Taking Literacy for Granted

I read everyday.  I read street signs.  I read labels.  I read my Bible.  I read other books.  And i’m sure I read a lot of other things that I don’t even notice because I can.  If you’re reading this than you’re most likely in the same boat as I am.  We can read.  But not everyone has this luxury.

Literacy has the ability to open doors and change lives.  In the United States we have a school system that allows for a very high literacy rate.  There are people who can’t read or don’t read well but it’s rare.  However, this isn’t true in many other countries.  In Papua New Guinea each language group and village has a different literacy story.  Some have had access to education for many years while others have only had access to local schools more recently and women tend to be the last to gain access to education.

Even with my background in literacy, I still take my ability to read for granted.  But I was recently reminded of the challenge in PNG when I received an email from a friend still working there.  She asked for prayer for adult women’s literacy classes that were starting in a local village.

IMG_5020When I was in PNG we had trouble finding women in the village who were strong enough readers to help us record scripture portions.  Some women had the opportunity to go to school but many did not.  And even those who were educated didn’t have many books or opportunities to practice their reading skills.  We recorded scriptures as well as some healthcare literature because of the low literacy rate.  But it’s still the desire to have as many people be able to read as possible.

The desire and need is the same in my friend’s area of PNG.  She started a couple of reading classes with a few women and sine these women didn’t have access to education when they were younger (literacy classes first began in 2008), they are very eager and motivated.  My friend’s training and work is not in literacy and she doesn’t live in the village full time so she can’t continue teaching literacy classes on a regular basis.  Despite this challenge the women have agreed to continue meeting with the help of a local woman who is eager to teach but has very little training.  However, this women is motivated and has her husband (who is educated) to support and help her.  It’s encouraging to see the possibility for literacy to grow in this group of older women.

Literacy in PNG succeeds when people are motivated and have the basic tools to help and teach each other.  But there are many obstacles to overcome.  Time will tell how these classes go but for now the village needs a lot of prayer.  So when you find yourself reading, take a moment to remember those who can’t.  Please be in prayer for literacy all over the world but specifically for PNG and for the ladies in my friend’s village.

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