Author: Margaret Hill

Traveling to different countries in Africa, I’ve noticed one important link between Scripture use and literacy, and that is how literacy can harm Scripture use! It is clear that it is right and proper to have an emphasis on teaching people to read, but the big question is: Where do you start?

In this brief article, Margaret Hill describes the importance of transition literacy and how it affects whether the translated Scriptures will be used in the local church or not. The author suggests different kinds of effective literacy booklets that can be produced, featuring local medicinal herbs, proverbs, hymns and others.

Resources to download:
 Phil50Baer  |    Fri 16 Jan 2009, 16:04

While the purpose of this article is of a different focus, I'd like to take issue with the statement, "For Scriptures to have an impact, people need to be able to read their mother tongue."

Since today we understand orality issues much more than in the past and we are able to provide Scriptures in audio forms which people can use, may I suggest the following statement might be more accurate: "For Scriptures to have an impact, people need to be able to frequently read or hear the Scriptures in their mother tongue."

Phil Baer, Jr.

 Paul Kinney  |    Tue 10 Feb 2009, 19:14

I think that too often Scripture Engagement is implemented as sequenced events. Most likely this is a reflection of a western mindset. Also there are logistical and budgetary realities. Every culture has different strata and each may require a different strategy for engagement, but these could be done simultaneously or branching out at different points as new factors and opportunities arise.


 Rick McArthur  |    Tue 18 Aug 2009, 21:46

It seems that we Westerners still don't really believe that oral learners can really learn w/o being able to read. For many of us working with minority groups, literacy for the masses is a dead horse that stinks to high heavens, but we've lost our sense of smell. Read this great article for a different perspective on the effects of literacy:

 Ian Cheffy  |    Thu 12 May 2011, 15:34

Margaret has chosen a very provocative title for her article - which will certainly lead people to read it. Unfortunately the title does not accurately represent the main message which she wants to communicate.

Her point is not that literacy can harm Scripture Use, but that an inappropriate strategy in a local language literacy programme, which begins with non-literate people rather than those who are already literate, can be counterproductive, resulting in key opinion formers disdaining literacy in the local language. Literacy itself (i.e. being able to read and write) does not harm Scripture Use at all.

I am afraid that some people may read only the title of her article and use it to reinforce their view that literacy is no longer useful for Scripture engagement and that therefore literacy programmes are irrelevant. This is an extreme position which I hope few people would support. Surely enabling people to engage with Scripture will be achieved in a variety of ways which include both written and oral means,among others.