Story by Mandy Glass and Photos & Video by Ashley Leyenhort
MAF flights helped to boost literacy in remote schools in PNG.
Recently, MAF facilitated two flights delivering over 50 boxes of books to Tekin, Sandaun Province. These boxes weighed 24kg each and were full of school books – Bilum Books.
Bilum Books is an organisation that provides educational resources throughout Papua New Guinea (PNG), such as students’ workbooks and teacher guides. They also facilitate workshops to ensure newly released school books get implemented well into teaching practices.
“We take the books to give to the teachers and they go off carrying a carton of books, about 20kg, back to the schools,” said Glenda Giles, one of the Bilum Books trainers. “The very next Monday they will be using those books in the classrooms.”
The books are written to be easily understood, for both students and teachers, and cover areas like English, math, and science. They aim to provide an authentic view of PNG culture and are made with the hopes of being shareable and reusable. Along with books for students of all ages, there are also comprehensive teacher guides.
“Teachers treat us as if we gave them a huge gift,” said Glenda. “Many of them have had no training since they first became teachers, maybe fifteen or twenty years ago.”
From 2007, following the invitation of the Oksapmin people and with the support of MAF, Glenda started the Oksapmin Secondary School. Glenda mainly focused on teaching English while investing in curriculum writing and empowering local teachers. The boxes delivered by MAF were sent to secondary schools in Oksapmin, Telefomin and Nuku. Two members from Bilum Books then provided training for local teachers at those locations.
“We get the elementary teachers from a whole district in, and they have a three-day course where we train them in how to teach from the Bilum Books,” said Glenda. Bilum Books places a focus on promoting literacy, which this training supports. “Literacy levels are very low in PNG and we know that if people are literate there’s going to be development,” said Glenda.
CBM is the distributor for Bilum Books throughout PNG. They partnered with Partnerships for Improving Education (PIE) through Abt Associates to take these resources to remote communities. MAF was the only way to deliver the materials and training to places where road access is non-existent.
“Having MAF willing to fly those books to various parts of the country brings the whole thing home, because there’s no point of having a book that can’t reach the final user,” said Carol Luttah, the General Manager of CBM.
Access to proper educational resources is difficult in the rural areas. MAF delivering these books helps to promote literacy and develop better learning in isolated places.