You probably know that Wycliffe Bible Translators does more than what it says on the tin – in addition to translating the Bible for language communities big and small across the world, we also have a passion for empowering people to engage with the word of God (Scripture engagement), and literacy.
What does literacy mean to you? Maybe not all that much, if you’ve never needed to navigate the world without it. But learning to read isn’t just about being able to read the Bible and other books.
What if you couldn’t read vital information on a medicine bottle? What if you couldn’t email your best friend when they moved to another town? What if you couldn’t even tell the time? These are all everyday tasks most people in the Western world do without thinking – but these tasks all require a certain level of literacy.
Exclusively oral communities may also face major barriers to higher education, earning money, and community development.
Wycliffe Bible Translators wants to unlock new opportunities for people groups who have been limited by a lack of literacy.
We work with communities to develop intuitive writing systems (or orthographies, to use the technical term) that language communities recognise as their own and that help adults and children learn to read within as short a time as possible. How long it takes to learn to read varies from language to language and person to person, but an adult who is new to reading may learn to read confidently within six months to a year.
‘…for a long time, there were no [Ngbaka] schools at all. Now I am very glad to be learning to read and write. Now I am educated! I can read and write in Ngbaka. I can read and understand God’s word, and now we have the entire Bible in our language!’
– a woman from the Ngbaka community
of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Read more about why literacy is important for women.
Also in this series: Why translate the Bible?
Want to connect with or start supporting a specific project or missionary? Get the ball rolling on our Connect page.