Concept: Literacy


Solomon Islanders had no systems of reading and writing, although they did have complex ways of recording events and numeric systems. Literacy was first introduced by the Anglican Melanesian Mission, which taught Solomon Islands students taken to Auckland in the 1850s and to Norfolk Island onwards from the 1860s. In the 1880s through the indentured labour trade many Solomon Island labourers working in Queensland and Fiji were taught to read and write at mission schools at night and on weekends. A few of their children, such as Timothy George Maharatta (q.v.), attended state schools in Queensland in the 1890s and 1900s. Literacy teaching within the Solomons was usually in local languages, and peoples in Anglican areas on Isabel and Nggela were quite literate in the early twentieth century. The Protectorate fostered English language literacy at the expense of vernacular literacy, which actually caused a decline in literacy in areas like Nggela.