Each one teach one
‘The ability to read is the key to the doors of the world, and through them, to a world of understanding, instead of fear, hate and superstition’. – Dr. Frank Laubach
Dr Frank Laubach, along with his wife, Effa, was responsible for helping an estimated 100 million people learn to read in their own language. As the New York Times reported at the time of Frank’s death in 1970, he managed to travel to over 100 countries and develop literacy primers in 300 languages and dialects . . . all in just over three decades.
Laubach was a sociologist who wanted to use his PhD in social work and his theological studies to serve God by helping others discover the words of truth and grace contained in the Bible. But he was also acutely aware that there were barriers to many being able to access those words.
When Frank and Effa first heeded the call to begin mission work on a small island in the Philippines, they did not experience an immediate welcome by the Mindanao people. They came to realise that learning the language and culture of the people were key to earning the trust of the people, so that is exactly what they did. After learning some basic Mindanao, Frank discovered that many of the people on the island were illiterate and facing severe poverty.
In response to this crisis, Frank developed simple literacy materials. After he had taught basic literacy skills to a group of students, he encouraged them to go and share what they had learnt with others. This method of multiplication enabled thousands to gain basic reading skills and Frank and Effa were able to read Bible stories with the people as a way to put their new reading skills into practice.
The ‘Laubach Method’, as it came to be known, became popular throughout the world and Frank worked with governments in America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East to implement the system which taught millions of people to read in their own vernacular.
Dr. Frank C. Laubach, Crusader Against Illiteracy, Dead at 85