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Australian diocese launches MP3 player appeal to help Sudanese community

Posted on: May 19, 2011 11:56 AM
Related Categories: Australia, Gippsland, South Sudan

From the website of the Anglican Diocese of Gippsland

An appeal has been launched by the diocesan Sudanese Ministry based in Moe to help fund an English-speaking program for the Sudanese.

Many of the Sudanese, like other refugees, struggle with learning English. This is made more difficult by the fact that many of them have had very little education in their lives and cannot write their own language. The English-speaking programs that they have had on arrival in this country have not been particularly successful in helping many of them to learn English and certainly not to read it.

The appeal is firstly to raise money for an initial 20 MP3 players (a device that plays recorded sound files). These MP3 players costing about $100 each, are an important part of the English-speaking program. They will be available to be borrowed from, initially the Parish office, and then when established, the Sudanese community Centre.

The program centres around converting information that they would have to read, into voice files so that they can both here and read the information at the same time. The Moe Anglican parish at the moment is in the process of obtaining high-quality computing software, those used in most universities as well is by organisations assisting people with disabilities, that will convert text into voice files. The Parish understands that this software, although expensive, will receive government funding.

At the moment, the Parish struggles with cheaper software to do this task. With the new software, a task that took the Rector the Rev Bruce Charles six hours, will be done in either 10 min or five seconds, depending on the software that will be purchased.

The applications for this process are many. It can be used for government and information pamphlets to make information more readily accessible to those with limited or no reading ability. It will be also used for helping the Sudanese to read the Bible. At the moment the Old Testament has not been translated into Dinka. Consequently, many of the Sudanese have heard very little of the Old Testament. This program can also be used for general reading and the extended use of talking books.

It is hoped that in developing their English, will help the Sudanese to more readily gain employment.

The Parish is excited by the possibilities of the program as it is innovative in the Australian context, but not so innovative when compared with best practices in Europe and America. The program is based on a simple principle, successful, we might say throughout time, in helping people to learn a new language. This method is also used in the Suzuki way of teaching the violin. Students learn to play by ear, to hear the sounds, before learning to read music.

The Parish hopes that in time this type of program will be used by a wide range of organisations, especially government departments and welfare agencies, to better disseminate information to those who are either illiterate or partially so. (The Rev’d Bruce Charles, Rector of Moe)

To assist, contact the Rev’d Bruce Charles