As Lukas Posia sat down at his desk in the Ukarumpa Training Centre, a smile spread across his weathered face. There was good reason to be joyful – he was surrounded by 31 other Papua New Guinean men and women who are committed to the same thing he is. Their desire is to see adults and children alike make the leap from reading and writing in their mother tongues and the national language of Tok Pisin into English. These dedicated educators, along with eleven mentors, came together in March for a two week course on Bridging Strategies.
Lukas became the sole champion for literacy among the Gwahatike people in Madang after his co-worker decided not to continue in the STEP (Strengthening Tok Ples Education in PNG) program with him. For many years he has worked to develop curriculum, teach literacy classes and Bible studies using the Gwahatike Bible, and has even worked faithfully with the deaf community, seeing remarkable success among adults who had never been able to read and write. He is only one man, but his passion to succeed and the training he continues to acquire has encouraged him to press on, despite the challenges that face many rural communities in PNG.
Participants walked away from the Bridging Strategies Workshop with an abundance of resources for training and teaching, including a book and CD with songs, lesson plans, charts and other materials. Each language group also created a picture dictionary during the course, with corresponding words for each picture written in English, Tok Pisin and their own language. These tools will help emerging readers work from the known to the unknown – a key principle in bridging.
Lukas is sure that God is equipping him to help others, too. “People are watching as change takes place in our community and are inviting me to come and share with them and help them do the same things in their communities.” Fluency in English has long been a dream for many in PNG, but workshops, training seminars and creative materials are only part of the strategy. More people like Lukas, working against the grain to see change happen, are the best bridges to English.
Check out the new video Flying High in PNG!