PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 30) – The social indicators show Papua New Guinea as a nation with a very low literacy rate. Most of the adult population is still illiterate and an increasing number of school age children are still without an education. They are heading in the same direction and a grim future.

Despite efforts to put more children into classrooms, both the National and provincial governments lack the financial and manpower resources to narrow the gap that is growing wider rather than narrower.

For the adult population, responsibility has been shifted to non-government, community-based organizations like the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) to cater for the plight of many women who are illiterate and unable to live a normal life, particularly in major cities and towns in PNG.

These are organizations struggling against odds to empower illiterate mothers and young women to liberate themselves from the bondage of illiteracy. There are success stories that have previously been widely publicized. One of these is the story of the young mother of three, 31-year old Jimu Wapi.

After going through the YWCA’s basic literacy education program, she can now read and write. Her whole life has changed for the better.

Not only that, but she recently won a prize in the YWCA’s literacy competition.

This is certainly not a headline-grabbing story. Maybe not. But as far as tackling illiteracy goes, this is a positive, human story. It is a story about the determination of a little known mother whose determination to change her life and that of her family has now become a reality.

There are many more women like Jimu Wapi in the settlements and villages throughout PNG who are praying silently that one day they will be able to read and write. 

Their hopes and prayers can be answered by organizations like the YWCA. 

Illiteracy is one of the worst forms of human sufferings. It oppresses those who do not have the privilege of freeing themselves from its bondage and reduces their dignity to low levels.

It must be defeated and we all must support efforts to raise literacy rates in PNG.

September 30, 2003

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:


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