THERE is a light at the end of the tunnel for struggling PNG authors to sell their books in large quantities when reading becomes part of the classroom instruction under the reformed Standard Base Education system.
Starting from 2017 or 2018, reading will become part of classroom instruction under the reformed education system.
This was revealed to me by the director of secondary curriculum unit at the Education Secondary Curriculum Division at Waigani in September and has been further affirmed by Simbu educator Roslyn Tony.
While I was in Port Moresby last September to fix my Aussie visa-medicals, I visited the secondary curriculum director Alex Magun to discuss the possibility of his division assessing my novel Paradise in Peril and also my reading comprehension text book with the objective of including them as school curriculum texts.
During our brief discussion in his office at Waigani, Alex hinted that this was part of the agenda the department was considering for educational reform and, if it became a reality, there was a possibility the department would buy suitable locally-authored books for students to read.
At the time, I must admit I did not take the message seriously.
While checking in at Jacksons Airport to return to Simbu after my Brisbane visit, I met a member of Simbu Writers Association and PNG Attitude and Crocodile Prize contributor Roslyn Tony.
Roslyn is an English teacher at Rosary Kondiu Secondary School and she was a member of the Grade 8 reading comprehension examination marking team on her way back to Simbu.
When she saw me she gave me her trademark sparkling smile and I took it as normal and smiled back. But she shouted to me, “Mr Nii, I’ve got good news but I’ll tell you later.”
Immediately she aroused my curiosity but because so many people were competing to secure a seat, I let her go.
Since then I hadn’t had the chance to talk to her until the distribution of the Towoong Rotary Club books for Simbu schools.
At that time Roslyn told me the book project was very timely because the education department was going to introduce reading instruction in schools in 2017.
“Is that what you were going to tell me at the Jacksons Airport?” I asked her, which she affirmed.
Roslyn added that, while in Waigani for the marking of the Grade 8 reading comprehension examination, the standards and measurement unit of the department told her and her co-markers that next year (2017), the department will introduce reading as an instructional subject in schools.
This means that the department and the schools will buy lots of books and I believe Papua New Guinean authors are going to benefit immensely from this initiative.
This means our labour of love and long struggles will not have been in vain. It looks like they are going to pay us dividends.
It is important to emphasise that the department is not going to blindly buy any locally authored book. Their screening committee will evaluate all books and will accept only those they think are relevant and suitable for students’ learning.
It is now up to authors to polish up their published books and produce suitable literature that will attract the department’s attention.