Project Description

July, 2017

Literacy for Life in Papua New Guinea

Literacy for Life runs a volunteer teaching program in the remote villages of the Mt Koiari area along the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. A team of ten, through Literacy for Life, spent the two weeks of the July 2017 school holidays in three villages along the Track conducting English language sessions with village women and maths sessions with village men.
The teaching in the villages focuses on English conversation, maths games, literacy, small business skills, cultural engagement and breaking down barriers. Most of the village participants are women – to improve their spoken English and feel more comfortable in speaking with trekkers, and numeracy skills for selling market produce; younger men who didn’t finish high school – maths skills; and older men – small business management skills such as bookkeeping, group planning and financial management.
Village life is very basic, mostly subsistence living. Our experience living in the villages includes:
  • living in a traditional hut made of woven reeds, bamboo floors, ¾ walls, and thatched roof
  • sleeping on camp mattresses on the floor
  • cooking on open fires
  • eating village food (vegetables that the villagers are growing) provided by the village women
  • toileting in basic squat loos
  • swimming/bathing in the creek or showering under a cold water pipe
  • washing clothes in the creek at a ‘was-was’ spot
  • hanging around enjoying slow village life
The villages are within a day’s walk from each other so available time is spent teaching rather than moving between villages. However, walking the Kokoda Track is very physically challenging, so we fly to the villages from Port Moresby. Some teachers helicopter between villages, while others choose to walk.
Jane, from Literacy for Life, walked the Kokoda Track in 2009 with her elder son, then aged 14, as a cultural trip with PNG family friends. Jane and her younger son, then also aged 14, walked the Track in 2012 with the same family friends. The family have remained in contact with PNG friends made on these trips. It was these experiences with the villagers that motivated Jane and her sons to develop the ongoing volunteer teaching program.