Tuesday, September 25, 2012

PNG: New facility improves women’s access to training opportunities

Catherine Rua of World Vision emphasized
 the role of women in bringing about positive change.

On August 11, 2012, representatives from government and partnering organizations joined SIL leadership to celebrate the opening of a new women’s dormitory at SIL’s regional Training Centre in Ukarumpa, in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The dormitory provides accommodations for up to twenty women. Another twenty-bed addition is planned. In attendance at the opening was the newly elected Member of Parliament for Obura-Wonenara district, Mr. Mehrra Minne Kipeta, who voiced his support for training and his appreciation of the new facility.

The new dormitory facility at the Ukarump
a Training Centre provides housing for up to
twenty women. Another section with an
 additional twenty beds is planned.
SIL PNG’s leadership is encouraged by expanding opportunities for the nation’s women in many fields, including government, education, business and community development. The dormitory provides housing for women who come to Ukarumpa from across PNG for training for leadership in a variety of language development and community development activities, including linguistics, translation and mother-tongue literacy. The campus also provides a men’s dormitory.

In addition to providing the basic need of housing, the new facility will enhance participants’ experience by allowing for fellowship and discussion outside of the formal classroom setting. This safe and secure on-campus option also eliminates the stress of locating suitable temporary lodgings and of travel to campus each day, allowing participants more time and energy to focus on their courses.

Funding for the dormitory was provided by several organizations, including the Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP). Another organization which provided funding as well as design and construction of the building was Wycliffe Associates, an organization staffed by volunteers who donate time to support language development projects around the world.

One of the first guests in the new dorm is Catherine Rua of the international NGO World Vision. Rua came to Ukarumpa to participate in the new course entitled “Literacy, Leadership, Education and Development” (LLEAD),* which equips participants to lead adult literacy and numeracy programs in their local communities. Rua expressed appreciation for SIL’s efforts to provide a safe, secure and welcoming environment for female participants. Her address to the dedication audience emphasized the important role of women as agents of positive change in their homes, communities, the workplace and the nation as a whole.

In addition to the dormitories, the Ukarumpa Training Centre has three large classrooms, a well-equipped kitchen and a large dining room beautifully finished in natural PNG timbers, which can accommodate up to two hundred people.

With over eight hundred living languages, PNG may be the most linguistically complex nation in the world. Since 1956 SIL has cooperated with local communities, government ministries and other NGO partners to support language development in nearly four hundred ethnolinguistic communities.

*LLEAD is one of three new stand-alone courses which were formerly combined in a single course known as STEP (Strengthening Tokples Education in PNG). The other newly-independent components are VERA (“Vernacular Education for Rural Areas”) and VEM (“Vernacular Education Modules”), which are designed to equip elementary school teachers in Multilingual Education.