It is a worrying scenario because literacy should be seen first and foremost as the people's pathway to developmental knowledge in childcare, nutrition, health, housing, agriculture, environment and so on.

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In addition, the condition of widespread illiteracy which is greater for women (Stromquist, 1990c:568) often makes them unaware of their rights.

Kelly (19) drawing on the findings of Deble's (1980) world-wide research, reported that governments in developing nations rarely showed concern for women's education.

Illiteracy is greatest among our female population with 60% female illiteracy compared with 50% male illiteracy (NSO 191).

It i& estimated that in our more remote rural areas, illiteracy rates are over 85%.

Education enhances the woman's role as primary caregiver in the home where knowledge and promotion of health and nutrition, and an understanding of the importance of literacy and education for the next generation are essential (Watson, 198).

Education improves a woman's role in the workforce and women with some education are able to earn a living to support themselves and their family (Kelly, 1987b:484).

In 1990 the National Government initiated the Literacy and Awareness Programme supported by the National Literacy and Awareness Secretariat.

The Literacy and Awareness Programme represents a policy shift from defining literacy as reading and writing skills, to viewing literacy as a process of 'awareness' building.

Education and access to information gives advantages to the women themselves, and through them, for their families and society.

It is a major means of freeing women from poverty and oppression and raising socioeconomic standards.

Before I proceed, I wish to acknowledge Sr Tess Flaherty of Goroka University who provided me with research materials at very short notice.