MAF flights are having an impact, allowing staff from ZOA and SIL to reach the Pokot community in the Amudat District of northern Uganda.
For over 10 years, ZOA, a Christian NGO has been promoting education among children in the Pokot community of northern Uganda.
In 2019, the institution partnered with The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) which consults in developing education manuals for languages across the globe.
Mission Aviation Fellowship, MAF flies staff of both organisations to Amudat district, where the education services are provided.
“MAF has made delivery of the early grade reading pilot programme easier. We are able to deliver to the programme within the expected annual school term schedule,” said SIL Africa’s Advocacy and Alliance Building expert, Lydia Teera.
Four years later, a new dawn is arising for the Pokot people in Amudat district. The community is starting to embrace education at a faster rate than before. “We learn from the known to the unknown and this must be reflected in the visual aids used in teaching to illustrate for the children,” said Rudy Klaas a language expert with SIL.
The inspector of schools in Amudat district thoroughly checks the content developed to ensure it meets the required education standards.
A 2017 report by the Uganda bureau of statistics put the Pokot community of Amudat at 82% illiteracy rate.
The initiatives by SIL and ZOA will help to raise the literacy rate significantly. Already, parents are joining their children to sit in a classroom to acquire knowledge.
“Children were not motivated to learn when I had just started teaching in Amudat because parents were not sending them to school. But since we started teaching them in Pokot, the number of children who are attending school has grown significantly,” said Juliet Aperetum, a teacher at Nakipom primary school.
“I have three parents in their early 40s, who are learning with the children in my class. I am surprised they sit in a classroom the entire day to study.”
Teaching children in their local language at the start of their education, using the things they interact with on a day-to-day basis, has been the game changer. SIL with a team of Pokot language experts who include teachers, cultural leaders, linguists and visual illustrators has so far developed study material for primary years one to three.
“One day people like these will be doing this job themselves. They are being trained to do what I do. If they get trained well enough, they can train others. Passing on this skill will breed sustainability,” Rudy Klaas said.
Rudy and his family have done missionary work in Africa for over 35 years, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At his age, and with a back problem, MAF has to fly Rudy to Amudat in order for him to deliver reading consultancy.
Reverend Canon Jane Chorey is a cultural leader of the Pokot community. She’s excited that finally, their language is being documented like other languages in Uganda.
“Because of our geographical location, the Pokot community has lagged behind for many years,” she said.
While ZOA’s focus has been promoting education among the Pokot, Rev. Can. Chorey says the move is also helping to preserve their language for the next generation for the very first time in history. The learning material is also documenting cultural practices, folk tales, traditional songs, riddles and rhymes.