Literacy on the Veranda

The veranda overflowed with children eager to learn. Margaret Nguaha'a had begun a language reading club for school leavers and children who had never attended school. There she taught children to read, write, and do basic math in their mother tongue, Arosi. Mothers also came, sitting on the edge of the veranda to learn along with their children.

Mrs. Nguaha'a had become interested in literacy a few years earlier when an SIL team came to Tawatana village in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific to begin a literacy program. The team asked Mrs. Nguaha'a, a young mother of three children, to teach adults to read and she eagerly agreed. With some basic training from the SIL team, she was soon producing literacy materials and teaching women to read and write in the Arosi language.

She was able to gain further training and experience by being sponsored in a short literacy course at the University of the South Pacific, and by assisting the SIL literacy team in running a province-wide literacy workshop. These experiences gave her the skill and confidence to start the language reading club. Because of the poor economic situation in the village, Mrs. Nguaha'a arranged for her students to pay fees in garden produce, which they brought with them to class every morning. The program was so successful that most children were later able to enter the local school.

In the evenings other mothers came to Mrs. Nguaha'a to learn how to teach their children to read Arosi. By lamplight, she trained them to produce learning games and books to help their children.

Mrs. Nguaha'a was invited to attend the Supervisors Tokples Education Program (STEP) program taught at the SIL Center in Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea. There she learned how to initiate and sustain mother-tongue education and literacy programs.

World Vision International heard about Mrs. Nguaha'a and invited her to become its Literacy Coordinator for Makira Province. In 2003, she coordinated the Kahua Language Literacy Project and trained 48 teachers. Today 28 villages have active literacy classes with a total attendance of 800 women. She has also coordinated the production of a Kahua reading primer as well as other reading materials.