When we speak of Literacy, we mean vernacular literacy. We are speaking of Pamosu speakers learning to read and write Pamosu. There are actually a range of different literacies. For example, a person can be generally literate, but not be able to read scientific research papers with understanding. Literacy uses the knowledge you have of your language and even the content of subjects or genres of literature to make sense of a particular form of the language, written. So it is important to understand that literacy is an ongoing goal. People never actually achieve complete literacy, that is to say the ability to read and understand everything. In the end we must think of literacy as the ability to understand, specifically about the written word.
Benefits of Literacy
There are many benefits to literacy and an exhaustive list would be, well, exhausting. Instead we will list benefits that are foremost in our thoughts for the Pamosu speakers.
- The ability to read and understand scripture. To come to a greater understanding of God, themselves, and the order of creation.
- The ability to write. There is a great deal of knowledge among the Pamosu that is unique to them which include their history, their ancestral beliefs, their practices, etc. The ability to write these stories, instructions, music, etc would allow them to preserve their cultural identity even as God transforms their culture into something more like His heavenly kingdom.
- The ability to read their own books. This strengthens the language in many ways by giving them a useful avenue to pass along knowledge to others.
- Literacy in your native language actually dramatically increases you ability to learn another language and to read and write in a new language. To be put another way learning to read and write in another language before your own is far harder when you can't read and write in your own language.
- Literacy is one of the chief societal factors in achieving higher qualities of life for any given group of people.
Current Literacy Initiatives
Fostering a print culture starts with small actions. There is very little for the Pamosu speakers to read, so we endeavor, along with the writer's workshops, to provide materials to read in Pamosu. Currently many of the books in the hanging library are in Tok Pisin, but as the people produce more stories, manuals, poems, etc. we can include them in the hanging library.
You can't read if there isn't anything written down. Those who have received some education in the national schools can adapt their learning of reading and writing English to start writing down small books for their people to read. These workshops are designed to motivate and encourage them to do just that as well as give them the courage and understanding to do so with what they already have. This has already resulted in several collections of short stories and we hope to move on to various genres of text like manuals/instruction materials, myths, histories, music, poetry, and much more.
Defining Scripture Use
Scripture use is a category of activities in language projects that are specifically geared toward increasing and enhancing the ability of people to use and understand scripture. There is some overlap with literacy as learning to read and write increases a person's ability to use scripture. However, it also goes beyond reading and writing since it includes other activities such as planning events or shaping habits to use scripture individually or corporately. For example, when people decide to have a Bible study or a scripture reading event where people gather, that is scripture use. Also, other productions can be a part of scripture use such as creating audio Bibles so those who cannot read still may hear the Word of God. So Scripture use is broader than just literacy, but also it only encompasses one aspect of literacy. There is nevertheless significant overlap. Just like literacy, scripture use is always an ongoing endeavor and never meets its completion.