Giving the Gift of Literacy

PriscillaFew village girls in the Solomon Islands have the opportunity to receive an advanced education, but Priscilla Maeniuta is one of them.  She grew up in a small village on the island of Malaita where she attended primary school. As a result of good test scores on the national school exam, she was able to go to boarding school for high school and eventually attend the national teacher’s college. 

In 2002 Priscilla’s church decided to provide adult reading classes in the capital city of Honiara. They asked SIL Literacy Specialist Timothy Matzke to help develop a literacy program in Solomon Islands Pijin, the national trade language. A reading primer was developed and a group of volunteers, including Priscilla, was trained to become reading teachers. 

Priscilla invited a group of women in her neighborhood to come to the verandah of her house for reading classes. She taught the women several days a week after working as a teacher at a local high school. Gradually, the women learned to read and write Pijin.  

During a visit to Honiara, Priscilla’s brother encouraged her to return to their home village to teach women there to read and write. Priscilla agreed to help the women who hadn’t had the opportunities that she had, and she sought help from the SIL literacy specialist to produce a reading primer in her language of Baelelea.

Once thWomen's Literacy e Baelelea primer was completed, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) provided funding to print the primer as well as conduct a teacher training workshop. Priscilla and an SIL literacy specialist traveled to Priscilla’s village and trained eighteen volunteers as literacy teachers.

Priscilla later was hired as the National Training Coordinator for Literacy Association of Solomon Islands (LASI) and now serves as the National Coordinator for the organization, which receives professional assistance from SIL as needed. Under Priscilla’s leadership, LASI continues to train teachers and produce literacy materials in several languages of the Solomon Islands.