Literacy Movement in Papua: Between Quantity and Quality – The increasing number of literacy movements in Papua generates pride in itself on the one hand, as well as concerns on the other hand. It is pride because of the awareness of the importance of literacy in order to improve the quality of human resources more or less has become a concern. There is concern because this movement should not stop at the formality stage which more prioritizes quantity and celebration than quality and essence.

The premise that I propose in this paper is how the literacy movement in Papua is not only present in quantity, but also in quality and more importantly, political understanding in carrying out the movement must be possessed. This paper does not mean to generalize all groups or individuals engaged in literacy.

I still respect to several groups which consistently run literacy movements with clear political awareness—run literacy movements according to their function. This article is here as a reminder to all of us so we don’t get caught up in the celebration of quantity but the lack of quality.

Before going any further, let me first explain what is meant by literacy? The Big Indonesian Language Dictionary (KBBI), UNESCO, and the Prague Declaration basically understand literacy as an activity that is not just to be literate. These activities must be expanded into the activities in reading and responding to socio-cultural-economic-political phenomena that occur in the midst of society.

In short, the ultimate point of this movement must be to generate humans who understand reality, and thus dare to take a stand. Literacy in a narrower and older sense are usually interpreted as bookkeeping, reading and writing activities. There is nothing wrong with that understanding. In fact, the ability to read and write is an initial prerequisite that must be completed before moving on to the next level.

The question that can be put forward is, if the books have been distributed throughout Papua and the Papuan people are literate, then what is the next? If literacy and the literacy movement are only defined as books, the ability to read and write, then what lack of literacy do we have in the midst of technological advances like now?

We read, write (read: type) on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp) every day, the distribution of books is getting better; we should be more literate than those who lived in the 15th century.

Is that the only movement we mean? Let’s go to Europe—a place where the movement thrives in coffee shops. Literacy and the literacy movement itself began to thrive in the early 1400s (around the 15th century), especially among the middle class and merchants in Florence, Italy.

The movement grew and spread wider by means of the invention of the first modern printing press by a blacksmith, Johannes Gutenberg from Mainz, Germany (Primadesi: 2018).

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