The busy Gerehu traffic buzzes by the Unity Foursquare Church, oblivious to the people who have gathered outside the brightly decorated church hall. Bright balloons, streamers and a big banner signify that the 6th Isi Learning Teacher Training Program Graduation is on. The 40 graduating teachers from the National Capital District, Central, Gulf and East Sepik Provinces eagerly await the commencement of the graduation program.
The Isi Learning Teacher Training Program is an initiative of the Foursquare Church and is financially supported by the Digicel PNG Foundation. Through this capacity building program, community based teachers’ link their passion for teaching with a sound knowledgeable base to effectively deliver early childhood learning and development programs. Guided by the UK designed Sounds Write phonics program, the Isi Learning Teacher Training Program includes teaching methods, basic numeracy, basic literacy, assignment outcomes, time-tabling, lesson planning and in-service training.
Chief Executive Officer of the Digicel PNG Foundation, Beatrice Mahuru, when addressing the graduates spoke to them about the important responsibility they bear.
“Digicel PNG Foundation invests in early childhood development programs because we believe that in order for a nation to develop, it is important to set the foundation of human development right from an early age, therefore teachers at the early childhood level play a critical role in the upbringing of young children as they become the future leaders of the country,” Mahuru said.
To date, over 261 teachers have graduated through the program with a basic teaching certificate. This program has had an overwhelming impact in the literacy and numeracy ability of pre-school aged children. As result of the success of the program, teachers from formal schools are also registering in the Isi Learning Teacher Training Program during their school term breaks to learn the basics of phonics.
Head Teacher and Founder of Gagagaba Community Learning Centre (CLC), Bau Sabadi, who graduated from the program, shared how his students’ literacy and numeracy skills have greatly improved since enrolling at this school.
“Many of my students start the school year with very little knowledge of the English language and not knowing how to read and write. Halfway through the year, they are speaking English well, can read books on their own and write whole sentences on their own. They develop a passion for learning and show up for school every day. Those who have graduated from our CLC and who are now attending elementary school are performing much better than their classmates because they’ve developed strong literacy and numeracy from our school,” Sabadi said.
As the program continues to develop with increasing interest and positive impact, Digicel PNG Foundation is continuing to invest in this program to address the gap that currently exists within the early learning structure of the public education system.