Six months after the first Literacy Library opened in Tari, the librarians can hardly contain their excitement as they proudly note the achievements and behavioural changes among Hela’s pioneering cohort of literacy babies.
The Oil Search Foundation (OSF) visits the library on a regular basis to support the staff to ensure a quality program is maintained.
On a recent visit, OSF Gender Officer, Oksie Kunapa, found that the library staff are impressed with the changes taking place with the children.
“It was very tough at first as the children were active and it was difficult to get them to sit and pay attention,” said Head Librarian Leonie Angai.
“But now they have improved a lot. They will listen to us and get involved in our activities. We have also learned how to keep the children interested and stimulated and how to control the classroom of active kids. Their behaviours have improved markedly. They know the rules and now do things like taking off their shoes before entering the classroom and pushing their chairs back when they leave the table.”
The children were involved in baseline testing when they first started. Initially this was very challenging for them because they could not count or recognise letters, or name colours or animals.
“The kids have just been tested again after 6 months and they have made impressive progress. They can now count up to 10, make the sounds of letters, recognise the letters and can name colours and animals. Two of the top performing students are girls. They are among a few of the children that are putting sounds and letters together and are starting to read. The librarians are very happy that the children are doing so well,” Ms Angai said.
The librarians also reported some positive behaviour from the children at their homes. “They are now much better behaved at home and say thank you and please all of the time,” said Ms Angai. “They are speaking English and teaching other kids new games and songs. One parent said her daughter gets up extra early in the mornings so that she will be at school on time.”
The library is a sea of colour with posters and pictures and all of the children’s handy works displayed around the room. The great progress made in such a short time is a credit to the efforts of the staff, with the support of the partners.
The OSF Literacy Library is the result of a partnership between OSF, Buk bilong Pikinini (BbP), the Catholic Diocese of Mendi and the Hela Department of Education. It aims to provide early literacy programs for children between the ages of 3 and 5 years.
BbP conducts regular and ongoing training visits and the OSF staff in Tari visit weekly to make sure the librarians have everything that they need. BbP CEO Henry Ume said; “with the support from Oil Search Foundation, BbP has seen continuous success stories on the ground in Tari. It is seeing the children learn and grow their awareness through the early childhood literacy program that makes the investment worthwhile”.
Picture: Excited librarians Cecelia Hiwi, Margaret Andrew and Leonie Angai in the Literacy Library at Kuluanda Primary School in Tari.