The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea (ELC–PNG) operates schools in villages where "Tok Ples" languages are spoken. The church has been working on developing "Tok Ples" classroom materials.
In 2002, a "Gifts Over and Above" request began to collect funds to enable printing and distributing of these materials. Not only does this help to preserve the "Tok Ples" languages, but it makes education accessible to children who don't know English.
Bonnie Weppler returned to PNG in February of 2002 to begin work as the Administrative Assistant and Training Officer for the Finance Department of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in PNG in Lae, Morobe Province.
She writes of the effect of the ELCIC support in PNG. The story…
At the Balob Elementary School there are 131 students and four teachers. ELCIC funds the printing and distribution of "Tok Ples" materials, which directly benefit these students and teachers and help to preserve their linguistic heritage.
The Balob Elementary School has a kindergarten, an elementary-prep class, and elementary 1 and 2 classes. The school is located on the grounds of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG) headquarters.
Children from the headquarters as well as surrounding community attend the school. It is one low, long building and it's quite dark inside. The classrooms are not self-contained so noise from one class readily goes into another. The children sit on the floor and listen to the teacher at the blackboard.
Some students at Balob only go to school until noon. At 10:00, however, they come out for "lunch" and can buy scones, drinks and donuts. Mamas sitting on the ground sell these lunch items.
The children can then sit in the schoolyard and eat their lunch.
There is also a sink which drains through an above ground pipe into the ditch close by.
Jeremiah is a former student of mine from Banz and now works for the Rainbow Program of the ELC-PNG in the Education Department.
The Rainbow Program is a new confirmation/Christian religious education program for the schools. The ELC-PNG is now training teachers to introduce this new program.
Anika is the secretary at the Education Department, and helps to keep things organized and running smoothly in this arm of the ELC-PNG, as it engages in mission on behalf of the church.
The Education Department has its own building which also includes a chapel/meeting space. I'm standing beside a plaque commemorating the erection of the building by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, to mark the 75th anniversary of the beginning of Christian missions on the Papua New Guinea mainland.
Having educational materials available for the classrooms of the church operated schools, that are appropriate to the learning needs of students, is a key responsibility for Moses Mann, acting head of the Education Department of the ELC-PNG. ELCIC funding for the "Tok Ples" series of materials is part of providing basic resources such as alphabet books where each letter of the alphabet has a separate book such as "A Anis" (A is for Ants).
The future of the church, whether in Canada or Papua New Guinea, is always found in planting the seeds of faith in the lives of young people who hear the Gospel story of God's great love for all people in Jesus. The children, who gathered on Sunday morning for Sunday School in the village of Buingim (outside Lae), are growing in faith, hope, and love.
After Sunday school and church were over in Buingim some of the children gathered around me. They love having their picture taken. I love them also and thank all of you in the ELCIC who are helping to support our Directed Gifts project to provide materials for children in the elementary schools of the ELC-PNG.