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This paper was presented at the International Literacy Year Colloquium in October 1990 in Washington, D.C. The paper provides a brief historical and geographic look at what is now Papua New Guinea. It then moves on to provide a glimpse at literacy education, both before and after nationhood in 1975. Linguistic diversity-more than eight hundred languages-and language use for education have been on-going issues. Preparing for nationhood fueled a change from community language programs to English-only education programs. Concurrently, there was a change from mission-driven education programs to government-sponsored education programs. Now, there is a government-supported movement to reinstate starting education in the languages of the community. Innovative ways of producing literature in the local languages is also presented.