The ability to read and write one’s language is a foundational skill that impacts every aspect of life: self-esteem, spiritual fulfilment, interpersonal relationships, physical well-being, and economic opportunity. Although several of the people groups OneBook serves enjoy a rich oral tradition, many lack a written form of their language. Few in these communities can read or write to a functional level in any language. This literacy deficit hinders them from accessing education, health care, and information crucial for social and economic development.
OneBook’s mother-tongue literacy initiatives begin by building relationships with local leaders and raising up language champions in the community. Many people report that the development of their written language is a tangible validation of their intrinsic value that refreshes and restores dignity and self-worth. Men and women of all ages learn to read and write the newly developed language through mother-tongue literacy classes, progressing through a varied curriculum that ranges from beginner to advanced lessons. Mother-tongue literacy classes sharpen the ability to transfer acquired skills from the mother tongue to the trade and national languages, unlocking additional education, economic, and career opportunities.
In partnership with local schools, bringing the heart language into the context of the classroom is helping minority students engage with the curriculum as never before. Confidence grows as students gain a strong grasp of critical concepts before tackling the added challenge of the national language. As a result, they are staying in school longer. Encouraged by successful pupils in their community, more parents are enrolling their children in school. These young people, in turn, are bringing classroom lessons home and teaching their parents what they have learned. Entire communities are building a new legacy of knowledge and opportunity.