Uniskript is an innovative literacy program developed through the University of the Nations in Hawai’i. The idea behind it is to connect the sound, the shape of the mouth and the symbol on the page, helping to bridge the gap between sound and symbol.
Uniskript is an innovative literacy program developed through the University of the Nations in Hawai’i. The idea behind it is to connect the sound, the shape of the mouth and the symbol on the page, helping to bridge the gap between sound and symbol. I was privileged to be part of a literacy programme in the first PNG language, Koriki, to work with Uniskript.
For nearly six weeks I worked with long term Gulf Province translators, the Pettersons, and a new literacy worker, Melanie, to train eight Koriki young adults as Uniskript literacy teachers. At the same time we taught over 100 children to read and write in their own language using the Uniskript alphabet which is unique to their language.My class was around 40 kids, aged four to ten, who had never been to school before. This was their first introduction to literacy and they did amazingly well, as did our trainee teachers. Their enthusiasm for learning was shown by the fact that we had over 100 kids turning up to school every day during the summer holidays. I challenge you to find that level of enthusiasm for reading and writing in Australia!
Each morning we would teach the children for an hour and a half, then spend at least another hour training the teachers and preparing for the next day. After a hot and sweaty half hour walk home we would eat lunch and have a siesta before working on literacy materials. The challenge of literacy in PNG is not just access to education, but access to materials to read from. We produced numerous short story books in Koriki and fought the printer until we had printed hundreds of books.
Since our successful summer school, I have heard that several of our trainee teachers are doing a great job of continuing to teach in their villages while others are struggling to get their programs off the ground. Meanwhile, Robbie Petterson is working on materials to help the children with learning English, as this is the official language of education in PNG.
It is an exciting programme and it will be interesting to see where it leads in the longer term…