Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

Teach a community to build a nation: A literacy journey

Feature Story 11 September 2023

Teach a community to build a nation: A literacy journey

Margaret Emmanuel has always wanted to be a changemaker in her community. That calling came about when she saw people in her local church struggling to read the Bible. That’s when she decided to teach literacy.

A teacher by profession with 15years experience, Margaret with the support of her family and church has been volunteering to teach adult literacy classes in her community, in Ialibu, Southern Highlands Province for almost two years now.

Margaret saw that there was lack of education services in her community and wanted to do something.

“People in my church struggled to read the Bible and understand the word of God. Since there were classroom buildings left vacant for many years, I combined the two and saw an opportunity to teach literacy”, says Margaret.

In 2022, over a three-month period, Margaret completed a phonics training and a Level 1 Adult Literacy Teacher Training with the support of the Baptist Union of Papua New Guinea (BUPNG) church in Kompiam and the Australian Government’s Church Partnership Program.

Margaret has now taught three groups, including one combined for students in Grade 8 to 12. This approach has encouraged parents to support their children to further pursue their education and dreams.

“Most parents don’t know how to read and write thus find it difficult to support their children. For example, they can’t read report cards, so they neglect participating in their children’s learning. [Through these literacy classes], parents and children can work together, and learning can be both ways.”

The community supports Margaret's initiative and hopes that there can be positive change when everyone learns how to read. She has gained recognition as a rising leader in her community. It is Margaret’s hope to further this adult literacy trainings throughout her District.

It brings her much joy when she sees her learners reading on their own.

“I believe that when I change someone, that person will [go out] and change the community. I want to build that foundation early in the community.”

Through the Australian Government’s Church Partnership Program, church partners such as BUPNG are delivering adult literacy training programs which are contributing to improving PNG’s literacy rate.

For further information, including access to related materials, please contact the Australian High Commission media team: +675 7090 0100