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Topic Primers

On our consultancy visits to the Solomons between 2008 and 2014, we worked with the Literacy Association of the Solomon Islands to develop a set of Topic Primers in Pijin. These were to be a materials resource for people who wanted to develop literacy materials for teaching adults to read and write. The topics in the primers cover a range of issues that were important, interesting and relevant to people who lived in the rural areas of the Solomons at that time.

In our earlier papers we refered to the collection as the IMR - the Instructional Materials Resource because our aim was to develop a set of primers with a variety of text types and topics that would be a resource to others as they developed primers for their communities. Because needs and issues are different in each community we wanted users to be able to choose topics from the resource set that were applicable to their community. They could choose any topic in any order, adapt the materials into the local language and build a set of primers relevant to community needs. We envisaged that each primer would contain four topics.

Over the course of the project we came to refer to these primers as Topic Primers or Story Primers because the key ingredient of the primer was the texts that related to the chosen topic. The text can be a story, an information text, a song, a poem, a newspaper article, health information, a recipe, a set of instructions or texts of other types or genres. If you want to understand the choices that we made in the construction of these primers, or you want to construct some topic primers for your language area, you will find papers about this under the Making Materials tab. (Some of the papers still refer to the primer set as the Instructional Materials Resource.)

If you scroll down this page you will see examples of some of the topics that have been developed, with various files or templates that can be downloaded. We have also worked with the developers of a book layout program called Bloom (freeware program), so you can now construct Topic Primers in Bloom using Story Primer templates. You can freely download the story primer templates form the Bloom Library. You will first need to download an up to date version of the free Bloom program. It is available on the web.

The man with the withered hand

This is a good text to use with beginning readers if their motivation for learning to read is to be able to read the scriptures. It is a well known story among Christian groups in the Solomons and the text is quite short.There are 6 lessons in this topic based on the scripture story of the man with the withered hand. The sixth lesson has an oral storytelling focus.

Download the full file of the man with the withered hand here

Note: If you want to download a smaller file, download the man with the withered hand without alphabet chart here.



Marriage Customs
There are five lessons in this topic related to the key text which describes how a Malaitan family arrange a marriage for their son following the customs of their cultural group. You can use this story, or write a similar one that tells of the marriage customs in your culture.
Download the Marriage customs topic here.
Looking after our forests
 The main theme of this topic is the importance of our forests and how they provide us with many resources and contribute to a feeling of well being. It gives the opportunity to discuss what may happen if we destroy too much of our forests. There are five lessons in this topic. The writers have written about a forest area that is well known to them, but the text can be made more general or adapted to describe a local forest area known to the readers.
Download looking after our forest here.
This topic is based on a story about the demise of a crab community, written from the point of view of one of the elder crabs. There are 4 lessons based on the story. The fifth lesson covers the life cycle of the crab so has more text reading in it than the previous lessons. It might be a good idea to spread this lesson over two sessions if needed. If over harvesting of crabs is not a problem in your area, you can still use this text as an informational text. Several of the discussion questions ask readers to think about things in their location that may also be under threat from overharvesting so relevant implications can be drawn from the text.
Download sustainability topic here.



This topic is focussed on a story text of one woman's journey as she discovers she has AIDS. Through the discussion of the text some facts are uncovered about HIV and AIDS. Other information is included for tutors to share with students as they may not be able to read all the information needed if this is used in an early stage primer. The example draws from Ulawa, Pijin and English versions. The final lesson in this topic has a story telling focus.

Download AIDS topic here in pdf form.

Download AIDS topic here in Libre Office Draw format



Money Matters

Looking after your money shares the journey of a Dobuan family living in a town in PNG as they work out ways of handling the cash economy using their cultural knowledge. Readers are encouraged to apply the lessons learned to their cultural situation and apply elementary budgeting concepts to their own situation.

Download Money topic here in pdf format. Please note this is a very large file (11,000+ kb) due to the cartoons in it.

Download Money topic here in LO Draw format. This is a large file (8,200 kb)





This topic was written by a group of Solomon Islanders and is based on the story of Tom's struggle with drugs and peer pressure at school. Some information about the effects of drugs is given and readers are encouraged to use what they learn in this tipic to help their families and communities become more aware of the issues of drug use.

Down load the Drugs topic here in pdf format.

Download the Drugs topic here inLO Draw format.





Soccer is a very popular game in the Solomon Islands so it is good to build some literacy materials around the game, especially if you are doing literacy tutoring with young men. This unit begins with information texts of different types about Bartram Suri, one of the most well known players in the Solomons. Today there are other rising stars that you could build your materials on. There are also some lessons that cover position descriptions and a few of the key rules of the game. The topic finishes with a sample literacy board game about soccer for students to create and play.

 Download the Soccer topic here in pdf.

 Download the Soccer topic here in LO Draw format.



Empty shell of the primer lesson

The early lessons in the Topic Primers follow a standard format so that tutors and learners will become familiar with the lesson pattern. If you wish to print a copy of this format download this blank double page spread of the lesson format in a pdf format. If you want the file in Publisher you can download the file here: Publisher file of primershell double page.

Further topics

Several other topic primers have been developed by literacy practitioners in the Solomons and are available for those who are interested:

  • Women's reproductive health
  • Men's health
  • Cooking and eating - Recipes and nutrition
  • Logging and reafforestation
  • Looking after our environment and managing introduced rubbish
  • Buidling strong communities
  • Family issues and domestic violence

The Literacy Association of the Solomon Islands (LASI) have also used a modified version of the Topic Primer template in the development of an  English Literacy and Conversation Bridging primer for adults. The draft is awaiting editing. We hope to show some samples here when they are ready but that could be a while yet.

page | by Dr. Radut