STEP Course: Strengthening Tokples Education in Papua New Guinea
Vision Statement: The STEP course is committed to the empowerment of Papua New Guineans as competent resource people with a vision to serve their own communities by developing, managing, and expanding sustainable vernacular literacy and education programs throughout the country.
Thirty-one mother-tongue teachers graduated from the two-year STEP course at a ceremony held at Ukarumpa in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea on 5 September, 2006. The STEP literacy training course equips teachers to serve their own communities by initiating and sustaining mother-tongue education and literacy programs for all ages.
The course graduates live and teach in six provinces: Central, Eastern Highlands, Madang, Morobe, Sandaun, and New Ireland. Most currently hold teaching positions as elementary teachers, adult literacy teachers, and teachers in their local churches. Many of the communities represented now have Literacy Boards and committees that acknowledge these STEP graduates as the literacy supervisors of their community-based literacy programs.
STEP course participants learn the main components of a successful literacy program. This training equips them to assist their students in reading fluency and creative writing skills. One aspect of an on-going literacy program includes materials production.
The course curriculum consists of five, one-month classroom modules. In between each classroom module, the course participants return to their local communities to complete assignments that put into practice the concepts and skills they have learned.
Initially developed by SIL, STEP is now directed by a local, nongovernmental organization, Bible Translation Association of Papua New Guinea (BTA). BTA’s Vice-principal for this year’s course was Mara Iyama. Twelve Papua New Guinean mentors were involved in this session and the local SIL also continues to provide staff.
Many STEP graduates become community leaders, and some teach under the national bilingual education system. Two previous STEP graduates supervised sixteen classes serving 960 children in the Ramoaaina language. They have already trained 23 teachers and are also helping the PNG government’s elementary program through training and material production.
After completing the STEP course, the graduates will be able to:
- Plan and run a Writers’ Workshop.
- Read and write vernacular materials with increased fluency.
- Produce and appropriately use vernacular materials, i.e., books, charts, teaching aids.
- Teach literacy implementing the Four Elements of Literacy.
- Develop a one-year curriculum for vernacular pre-schools.
- Implement basic principles of teaching and learning when teaching children or adults.
- Train others to teach through Teacher Training Workshops.
- Manage finances.
- Assume leadership and management roles in community or regional literacy programs as needed.
- Assist/advise in all above areas, when requested by the Elementary system, SIL teams, BTA, and other organizations or communities.
- Apply the basic literacy principles they have learned in a specialized area of study, such as Health, Children’s Vernacular Education, Adult Vernacular Literacy, Scripture Use, Community Development-based literacy, or materials production.