Those who cannot read are taught to teach the Bible
By Theresa Mittower and Sharon Samson | Ethiopia in East Africa
A group of Sunday School teachers huddled behind a pink blanket representing the door to Noah’s ark. On the other side of the blanket, others pleaded to be allowed in.
Despite the seriousness of the story, the women found it hard to suppress their giggles. They were acting out the story they’d just learned using a Bible curriculum written so they could teach it to illiterate children. Most had only been educated to elementary level themselves.
Sharon Samson, an SIM worker who has served in Liberia and Ethiopia, developed the 'Hear-See-Do' curriculum especially for those who are semi-literate. The curriculum package includes lessons, line drawings, discussion questions, games and music. The lessons are recorded so those who cannot read or write can use them to teach others.
Writing the curriculum was almost the last thing on Sharon’s mind when she went to Ethiopia to teach Christian Education at Evangelical Theological College in Addis Ababa. But she soon saw that most Ethiopians who were teaching children the Bible were unlikely to ever become students at ETC. Something was needed to make teaching God’s word accessible to them. She decided to apply to the Oxford Centre for Missions Studies in the UK to do research for a doctorate and to write a curriculum to fill this need — tasks that would fill the next nine years of her life.
Sharon asked for help from the local church to set up weekly meetings at which she tested ideas for the curriculum: What styles, art and music would work best in a semi-literate context? A local artist produced 2,836 line drawings, and a friend recorded more than 1,950 songs.
While writing and testing the lessons, she also trained Ethiopians to use them. Her staff translated them into Amharic then, later, two other Ethiopian languages. Today, the lessons are available to be translated into other languages as well.
By her last term in Ethiopia, Sharon was excited to see the end result: teachers trained and using the curriculum with children. Although now retired, she still sends out her entire curriculum in English in digital format to those who ask. It is also being used in homeschooling, ministry to adults, ministries for children, mission trips, prison ministry, and literacy classes. There are nine years of lessons divided into levels for children aged from six to 14.
All the lessons are also provided in a spoken format, recorded by Sharon in English. Teachers can learn the lessons or play them for the students to listen.
For more information visit the curriculum website, where you can download a sample lesson and request a flash drive or SD card with all 31 series of lessons.
The lessons are free but Sharon appreciates donations to her ministry account to help cover postage costs.
• For the curriculum to be used in many English-speaking countries and translated into other languages
• For those taking the training to feel confident in teaching
• For the Lord to bring children to himself through its use