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  1. 1. OVERVIEW OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S EDUCATION SYSTEM Prepared by Amy Herbertson Panango 2010 PART ONE: BACKGROUND PNG EDUCATION POLICIES AND REFORMS This document is meant to present you with an initial introduction to PNG Education: the philosophical and political context that affects the education system you will encounter upon arriving on Karkar Island. It is also meant to hopefully give you some useful advice on teaching strategies prior to departure. Papua New Guinea: A brief overview In attempting to understand Papua New Guinea’s education system, it is first and foremost necessary to become acquainted with Papua New Guinea itself. By understanding both PNG’s political history and cultural heritage, we can begin to understand the unique challenges of developing an all-inclusive education curriculum as well as unpack some of the political motivations behind educational policy reforms. Political History Papua New Guinea is a country in the Oceania region, just above Australia and sharing a border with Indonesia. It has a long colonial history, beginning in 1884 and lasting until 1975. In 1884 Germany colonized the northern half of modern day PNG, formerly called New Guinea, while the UK colonized the southern half, called Papua. In 1906, UK Papua was transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia and in 1921 following WWI, control of German New Guinea was also transferred to Australia. The territories were governed
  2. 2. separately until 1949 when a joint administration over both territories was established. Finally, in July 1971, the entire region under Australia’s control was renamed Papua New Guinea and on September 16, 1975 Papua New Guinea became a sovereign nation-state, politically independent of Australia. However, PNG maintains close ties to Australia, a main contributor of PNG foreign aid. Top Photo: Kosmas Primary, Karkar Island by Amy Herbertson, Panango 2010 Bottom Photo: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse country in the world, with over 820 indigenous languages, over ten percent of the world’s linguistic diversity. These indigenous languages are called “Tok Ples,” translated “Talk Village.” However, PNG officially recognizes three national languages: Motu, English, and Tok Pisin, a pigeon trade language introduced by the Germans. Tok Pisin is prevalent throughout the country but particularly in former German New Guinea. English is spoken by only one to two percent of the population, and more so in former Papua, as well as towns. Partly due to colonial heritage, all business, government, and higher education is conducted in English. All tests for matriculation to high school and university are also conducted in English. This policy puts PNG children living in remoter parts of the country, where Tok Pisin or Tok Ples dominate everyday life, at a huge disadvantage for matriculation. Additionally, approximately 85% of the population live in villages and are subsistence farmers. Karkar Island, where Panango operates, is a remote island in Madang district. Tok Ples (Waskia and Takia) is dominate as well as Tok Pisin. Along with linguistic diversity comes cultural diversity: religious, indigenous beliefs, ethnicity, way of life, etc. These cultural differences also developed due to geographical distinctions. PNG is composed of four dominate regions: Central, Sepik, Islands, and Highlands. The richness of diversity is vast, as many tribes were completely isolated for generations before coming in contact with each other (near-by tribes) and outsiders (western foreigners). Even today, there is the potential that there are un-contacted tribes in the Highlands region. As late as June 2010, a tribe, previously un-contacted by the outside world, was discovered in nearby Papua. Also, only in 1954, aerial surveys of the Highlands region revealed isolated populations of up to 100,000 people. Lack of infrastructure (roads, phone lines, etc) and difficult terrain makes distribution of educational resources and communication between remote school districts and central planning departments clumsy and undependable. As PNG defines itself as a country and people, it must decide how to best preserve tribal/ regional heritage and autonomy while promoting national identity and moving away from its colonial past. Much of this drama is played out as education policy is implemented and then reformed.
  3. 3. Top Photo by Charlie Janac, Panango 2010 Bottom Photo by Amy Herbertson, Panango 2010 BBC Papau New Guinea Timeline: Panango Website: PNG Education Reforms and National Identity: Since PNG Independence in 1975, the Department of Education has implemented several educational reforms in attempting to discover an authentic PNG Education Curriculum and Philosophy. Timeline of reforms: Queensland Syllabus- Colonial Education *until 1975 Pacific Series Syllabus-Shared with Pacific Islands Melanesian Series Syllabus-Shared with Melanesian Islands Outcomes-Based Education- Joint venture of PNG and Australian AID *1994-2014 *Information from interview with a Kosmos Primary, Karkar Island teacher who taught under all systems. Dates approximate* Justifications for Reform: The rhetoric behind education reform suggests a search for PNG authenticity as well as a desire to preserve PNG’s “Way of Life” : “Before the reform, the PNG curriculum was based on foreign Western beliefs and ideas mainly to produce Papua New Guineans to administer the country and to achieve academic success. This system of education unfortunately, failed to provide a useful education for all citizens of Papua New Guinea...teaching and the content was based on text books and did not encourage reflection of thoughts, creativity and evaluation. The students were not taught to think and work independently as well as to provide opportunities to develop lifelong skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and interpersonal skills. Students were not mentally, socially and culturally challenged in the old system.” --University of Goroka Teacher’s College Lecture, 2010
  4. 4. “The reform curriculum has to prepare adequately the majority of school leavers (up to 85%) to return to their communities and community-based subsistence and small-scale commercial enterprises, while at the same time support the other 15% of students who will find paid formal employment or enter tertiary education upon leaving school. --University of Goroka Teacher’s College Lecture, 2010 “[The purpose of the reform is] to develop an education system to meet the needs of Papua New Guinea and its people, which will provide appropriately for the return of children to the village community, for formal employment, or for continuation to further education and training” (National Education Plan, 1996) “Our cultural traditions are not being handed down from generation to generation.” “Students will become aware of the social bonds in the community if they are first taught in the languages of their communities an through activities which socialize people, such as agriculture, fishing, and community development.” --Section 5 of National Curriculum Statement 2002 Zooming In: Current Curriculum Reform 1994-2014: Outcomes-Based Education Key Features of Reform Among all of the features of the broader education reform there are three key features concerning the 1994 reform curriculum in PNG. *Side-note: This is the theoretical argument of what the reform accomplishes. The practice and implementation of the reform policy is still underway* 1) Language of Instruction The elementary schools use 100% local vernaculars for instructions. Thereafter, children will begin a Bilingual program of bridging from vernacular (Tok Ples) to English. In primary schools children will learn to speak, read and write in English as well as continue to develop their first language. At Secondary schools students maintain minimal vernacular languages but the medium of instruction will shift more to English. This differs from Old Curriculums which were conducted entirely in English at each level of schooling. 2) Cultural Relevance PNG now has a relevant curriculum that is firmly based in the culture and way of life in the community and provides knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the resource development needs and opportunities of the community. In practice, at the community school level, this will mean that the language of the community, together with its culture, spiritual and vocational practices will form the basis for the activities in the school. OBE Education provides much room for flexibility in order to allow for individual tribes and regions of the country to incorporate local traditions and culturally relevant knowledge into their curriculums. It is a decentralized philosophy of education that grants much autonomy to individual schools and teachers on what can be taught in the classroom. 3) Relevant skills for life Skills education includes “many competencies which people need, in order to successfully
  5. 5. carry out their physical and mental activities, and to sustain or improve their livelihoods’. The school curriculum should aim to develop traditional skills such as fishing and farming, as well as skills for the community development, small business and personal health. This section borrows heavily from University of Goroka documents, Panango 2010 Method for Achieving Cultural Relevancy: What is Outcomes Based Education? Quotes concerning OBE: *taken from OBE Curriculum Reform documents ranging from 1994-2006* “Outcomes based education is a way of planning, delivering, and evaluating teaching and learning that requires teachers and students to focus their attention and efforts on desired end results of education, particularly when those end results are expressed in terms of student is about student-centered is about teachers focusing on learning processes and identifying progress being made [with full control over] the design of materials, plans, and programs all for the purpose of facilitating depends heavily on the creative ability of each individual teacher.” “Given the right opportunity, time, and flexible teaching programs, the majority of students should be able to achieve these outcomes. There is a challenge for teachers as well. Teachers will need to be creative and flexible, making good use of the resources available to them within the community and local environment.” “Student-centered approaches (also referred to as discovery learning, inductive learning, or inquiry learning) place a much stronger emphasis on the learner’s role in the learning process- examples are co-operative learning and student research projects. When you are using student-centered approaches to teaching, you still set the learning agenda but you have much less direct control over what and how students learn.” “OBE expects education systems to throw out traditional curricula, courses, and programs and to start from the exit outcomes (end of schooling outcomes) to define what schools will teach and how they will teach it. Subjects and approaches are seen only as means of achieving the exit outcomes” “Outcomes-Based approaches are a global movement, however, each education system is implementing an approach that is consistent with their way of life and their particular cultural values. So there are as many variations as there are countries implementing an outcomes-based approach...” **Vague? Yes...that is the point. These are the most precise descriptions of OBE education I could find after scouring tons of documents. It is a philosophy without concrete direction as to how to proceed with teaching and learning. Teachers are given free reign as to how they assess that learning occurs.
  6. 6. PART TWO: APPLICATION WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR US? As a teacher, you will be very affected by the education reform since it is “loosely structured” so that teachers can create lessons relevant to their students, from resources that exist in the community and according to community values and traditions. While past Education series included daily lesson plans with a textbook, the OBE reform has no such thing. You will have to make everything up in order to fulfill indicators and objectives (please see syllabus below), either from digging through sporadically appearing resources, or from your own memory. *On first arrival, an Outcomes Based Education syllabus is the primary resource we are given to begin teaching English. The syllabus states the level that our students should be at as well as what we should be accomplishing on a termly basis. As you will find out, on the remote island of Karkar, this expected progress is a gross miscalculation* Syllabus: Upper Primary Language Syllabus and Outcomes-Based Education Indications
  7. 7. What Level Are Our Students Really At?: Based on an analysis of several writing samples and classroom experience, I found that students have a significant amount of trouble with... • Subject-Verb Agreement • Tenses • Appropriate Punctuation Usage/Types of Sentences • Speaking English out loud • Prepositions • Pronouns • Diversifying Vocabulary Words The syllabus, while a good theoretical guide is impractical. Mastering grammar as well as confidence in speaking English must be accomplished before students are expected to “write imaginative stories and perform them to an audience.” *Please note that the indicators and objectives are the only guidelines given to teachers. As a volunteer teacher, it would be extremely valuable to bring a “Teaching English Grammar” book for your own sanity but also to leave behind as an invaluable gift when you leave. There were no English grammar books at my school.* Inconsistencies of Reform Policy - How it affects English Language Learning: As aforementioned, the new reform puts much more responsibility on the teacher to completely design day to day curriculums with the objective of fulfilling vague indicators of learning. Here are some other observations I have made about how inconsistencies in the reform policy impact English language learning: The Bridging to English program assumes that children will be in grade 3 at nine years of age. This is when bridging to English, a foreign language begins. However, in remote villages, many children do not go to school until their parents see them as physically strong enough to get there safely. As one teacher reported, parents determine whether they children are ready for school based on height rather than age. Many children start grade 3 at thirteen or fourteen years of age. This is not the ideal time to be introduced to a new language. As OBE is an education system largely created and promoted by AustralianAID, we must wonder whether Western foreign aid administrators forgot to consider this detail (unique to remote village life) while creating an education program.
  8. 8. Secondly, there is no system in place to ensure that new teachers entering the field are assigned to their Ples (Village). The Education Reform assumes that teachers will be able to give education in the local vernacular and also have an understanding of local cultural values. This may not be true and in fact often is not. Teachers at the school I taught at came from all regions of the country. Therefore teachers may not know the Tok Ples where they are assigned. A lot of times, Tok Pisin (Pigeon) rather than Tok Ples is initially taught to students in elementary or used as a first language before bridging into English. Also, sometimes when schools teach children from different linguistic backgrounds, teachers will use Tok Pisin, since it is understood by all. This undermines a key goal of the reform, to maintain the usage of the vernacular (820 languages) and protect linguistic diversity. Instead, Tok Pisin, a simpler (non-specific and limited) trade language is gaining dominance over both English and the vernacular. The transition from learning Tok Pisin, a pigeon language, to English is also very difficult since it is a “Broken English.” Finally, OBE expects students to be self-driven and yet remote schools have very limited resources. It is an unrealistic expectation to expect students to be able to carry out experiments, do research, or analyze local newspapers when they do not have easy access to necessary resources. OBE is designed to work much better in town locations. However, 85% of the population lives in villages. Therefore, OBE cuts off the old resources (textbooks) for “teacher-centered” learning in order to encourage free-spirited “student-centered” learning. This learning is improbably as it requires students to take enormous self-initiative without providing adequate resources to drive them. Practical Preparations to Make: There is not much we can do to impact the National Education Policy as visiting student- teachers. This document is merely meant to provide an orientation to the radical changes happening in PNG Education policy and to inform you of the challenges of the education system you will face upon arrival. They are also largely my opinion based on my research, classroom experiences, and interviews with teachers. However, we will try to provide you with some smaller scale, useful information to ease you into the classroom. Things we wish we knew: Panango 2010 Participants “Bring an English grammar book! I struggled so hard to remember grammar rules! Also, I’m sure they had good ideas for teaching grammar that I couldn’t think of on my own!” “Bring books. I didn’t bring books as gifts because of a stupid philosophical idea that I should only teach them with what already exists in their own communities. I realized when I got there that someone like me coming was the only chance they had for getting access to new books. Most books in their library were old and (judgment call) lame. If I could do it again I would have paid an extra 50 dollars and brought a suitcase full of interesting books.” “Bring books and movies about the world. They have no media and no access to so much knowledge that we take for granted. I would bring a picture books or movies showing cultures of the world and other natural environments. Planet Earth anyone? Actually...if I could do it again I would have splurged and brought the Planet Earth series. Some (very few) people have DVD players and computers. But when they watch movies the whole village gathers. It would be something people would treasure for years!”
  9. 9. “Bring a book about general teaching methods. I really like Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov because it has a lot of directly applicable techniques and ideas.” “Check out some specific techniques for dealing with English language learners--so much harder than all the teaching I had done in the past!” “I also thought it might have been helpful to bring some language books for learning other languages (like the ones you used to learn a second language), some of the techniques and lessons used to teach Spanish, French, etc. could be applicable to teaching English.” “Bring some basic textbooks for the subject you want to teach if you want to teach something other than English (science, math, etc.) Anything you have will be better than what my school gave me! It's kinda hard to come up with lessons with no internet and no resources...” *Note: We do sometimes teach other subjects. Mostly math and science. To see these syllabuses (which I actually did follow) please visit: “Bring an atlas--I've found that the kids were really interested in maps of the world, where America and PNG were, and that might be a cool way to get through to them.” “Bring fun books. Do not bring heavy ones.” “Sometimes it's really hard to make a difference in the way that you want to. Effort, dedication, and love aren't always enough.” “Expect the unexpected. (PNG true)” “Time and scheduling are really really different in other parts of the world.” “Bring stickers. SERIOUSLY! This is a hugeeee motivating factor. They will jump through hoops to get a sticker on their notebook...also rubber bands. Adults also love” “Learn all of your students' names (name tags are a plus) and hold them accountable (call on them).” “Try to choose activities that make the students engage and speak.” “Check-in to make sure students actually understand what you are explaining. Often they will nod and smile and pretend like they know what you are saying, but they are just being polite and don't want to displease you.” “Any game-like activities (including ball games, passing things around, story-telling, dancing) are really effective.” “Never have them write for more than 10 or so minutes straight.” “Don't get upset if students are absent. Check in with them--usually things are going on at home, and they usually won't tell you unless you ask.” “Students do not know how to take notes in the way that we do. They tend to copy. Writing notes and having them copy them down probably won't be super helpful.” *Note: I did a speed note taking lecture which was really fun and also pretty affective. PUSH them to write
  10. 10. notes quickly otherwise you will never get anything done! I would make this a priority. “Be ready for "cheating", or copying. Don't get upset; students just want to please you and it is not considered cheating on Karkar. Just be clear from the beginning of the class that you want their work and that copying others' work is not okay.” “Try to engage students who don't raise their hands (learning names is a good way to do this).” *Hint: some of us took digital pictures of our students holding their name tags and studied them at home in order to learn names quickly “Try to help them learn to speak in front of groups. They will be shy and will not want to do it, but a little coaxing will get them eventually.” “Give positive feedback” “No one will come when it rains” “Be prepared for school to be cancelled on a dime--and don't expect it to operate like an American school.” “Frustration is probably wasted energy. Hang in there.” “If you can, try to visit some of your students' home villages and get to know their families. It will get you more familiar with their home situation.” “Model what you want. SEVERAL times. After you do this for the class, go around to each individual group or person...changes are someone (or a group of kids) still did not understand what you wanted them to do.” “Get a Tok Pisin dictionary and read the grammar rules. Even though it’s related to English, it is certainly very different in many respects. Learning Tok Pisin was incredibly valuable and I think was key in whether or not we could connect well with the people on Karkar. I had a dictionary only the second time; having it the first time would have been extremely helpful.” *She went also in 2009 “Understanding how a village functions is not the same as understanding how a country, or even a province, functions. In a country as diverse as PNG, only by staying in several places, and staying for long periods of time, can you start to understand how the country functions. Even after 2 trips and traveling to many places on the second trip, I still don’t understand important aspects of PNG. I would need to stay longer and keep exploring to better understand the country.” *She went also in 2009 “I taught as many of my lessons using pictures or physical objects as was possible. More students were engaged and I think the understanding was better because English is difficult for them and pictures can be very universal. I think this was especially affective when I taught science.” “Try to make everything as relevant to students’ lives as possible. It can be done!” “Students have a hard time thinking creatively or imaginatively. In other words, they have a hard time thinking beyond the world they see in front of them. Can you blame them though?
  11. 11. There needs to be a lot of modeling here and any resources from home you take to help illustrate a world beyond their day to day would be amazing” “Hang in there cowboy...sometimes it gets hard but then you see someone’s face light up with a new idea and it’s all worth it.” Top Picture: Autumn Albers, Panango 2010 Bottom Picture: Charlie Janac, Panango 2010 Group Picture: Janelle Wallace, Panango 2010 That’s about all. I just have a few more... Off the Wall Suggestions: (If I was going again I would...) • Try to formalize some way of working with teachers. Teachers are used to teacher- trainees from Teacher Colleges coming in and taking over their classes while they basically take a vacation. I think it would be beneficial and educational for us, teachers, and students, if instead of passively letting this happen, we push to teach in some kind of partnership, or at least ask teachers to observe so that we might discuss strategies with him/her later to improve both of our teaching methods. • If I was going again I would also work with teachers (who speak good English) to create dual “Tok Pisin”/ “English” books. (aka Books with side by side translations) Pigeon is very prevalent on the island and this might be a good way to learn English vocabulary. I would also try to grammatically “dissect” some easy English books. That’s all folks! PANANGO LOVE
  12. 12. Author’s Note: I present this document, detailing PNG’s education policies and challenges with my personal bias. While I was on Karkar, I spent a significant amount of time interviewing teachers and teacher-trainings about their experiences with the various Education reforms, reading through Department of Education official documents (especially about OBE), and taking notes on my students’ English ability and progress. Additionally, Panango 2010 spent a week at the University of Goroka taking a crash course on PNG history, education policy and philosophy. Here we learned about the theoretical “accomplishments” of the new reform before traveling to Karkar Island to experience the reality of that reform. I believe OBE is failing in terms of achieving its desired objectives and in this document I choose to highlight the challenges and inconsistencies of the new policy. However, there are also many positive aspects of the new reform I feel obliged to point out. OBE, a joint venture of PNG’s Education Department and AusAID follows objectives set out by the United Nations Education for All, 1990 movement. This includes greater access to education for PNG children as well as strides in achieving gender-equality in the classroom. Wonderful! Additionally, I believe there is merit in attempting to preserve indigenous culture through education and I admire that this is a priority of the government. However, despite these successes, there is much that can and should be improved with OBE. Much controversy surrounds the reform which continues to be debated at the National level. If you speak to teachers and administrators on Karkar island, many will be eager to criticize OBE and bilingual language education. Many teachers prefer old systems and claim that students learn better, (especially English) under the old systems. While I believe a lot of the philosophy of the new system makes theoretical sense for a young country seeking to both preserve tribal/regional culture and autonomy while developing a strong national identity, there are too many contradictions and inconsistencies in the implementation of policy, especially in remote areas of the country to call OBE a success. As a teacher, you will be very affected by the education reform since it is “loosely structured.” While past Education series included daily lesson plans with a textbook, the OBE reform does not. You will have to make everything up in order to fulfill indicators and objectives, either from digging through sporadically appearing resources, or from your own memory. This will sometimes be a challenge but we also have to keep in mind that at least we are teaching our native language and likely as college students have a background on the basics of other standard subjects. Imagine how difficult it might be for teachers who do not have a particular breadth of knowledge in a subject and then are given no resources with which to develop a lesson plan for their class. And they have to do this for all the subjects! Anyhow, this is just a little something so that you have a bit of an idea of what you are getting into, a big-picture policy background and how that affects smaller, “on the ground” details. Hopefully it was informative and helpful. Also, please enjoy practical advice from past participants...we stumbled along but in the end I think we earned our Karkar legs. You will too. ! Good luck Panangoers! Karkar is the adventure of a lifetime...that’s for sure! Questions: Amy Herbertson |
  13. 13. Appendix A: Old (Colonial) vs New Curriculum Old Curriculum System: Advantages: -English was the only language of instruction. Students learned English well. -A teaching program was planned for all subjects in the Teacher’s guide -The text book was in detail and easy to understand -Corporal Punishment was practices *Don’t agree with that one...but it was on the list* -It encouraged students to work hard to get a good paying job Disadvantages: -Separated students from their language, culture, and community activities. -Made children feel like failures who no longer valued village life, traditions, obligations -Had the curriculum which was not relevant to the needs of Papua New Guinea -Did not prepare students to use the resources at home in the communities -Did not allow all children to go to school and did not encourage children to stay in school New Reform Curriculum: Advantages: -Encourage gender equity -Teaches children more about their language -Makes children feel good about themselves and encourages them to value and respect village life, traditions, and obligations -Provide bilingual education to develop children’s language skills in both their own language and English -Prepares children to use the resources in their community -To maintain the culture of PNG (Gov wants to keep culture) -Integrates academic and practical education and is not just a way to paid employment -Children are active learners Disadvantages: -Teaching programs are not outlined or planned in the teachers guide -Teachers have a hard time planning programs for each subject -There are a lot of disciplinary problems because corporal punishment is not allow :/ -There are not enough teaching materials -Teaching materials such as teacher’s guides, syllabuses, and text books (if any) are not in detail -The program does not encourage children to work hard academically to get a good paying job. *Given to me by a teacher I interviewed*
  14. 14. Appendix B: Example Sentences from My Students: 1. It’s face looks like fox’s face. 2. I am alway need about cats because to help me to kills the rats and some more animals in where in the house. 3. He is so fat man from the village, and he is the best hunter. From their he do not want to stay at the village. Allway, he pasts away every morning in the day time. in the afternoon he come back again. 4. So I am always proud of my dog. It is an angry animal in my house. So all the people always scared of it. 5. They told my big brother that what was happen to me: And they deside to go catch these bandcoot: 6. She lazy all the time when my mother told him to doing something, she allways lazy. 7. And I always tell him big head. He always make us angry 8. These cat name is billy Billy have black colour It is a big cat it always catch many rats. 9. The eye’s of a pig is very small. It’s teeth were very sharp. 10. She always want to eat more food. When she live at school her stomek will become small. When she went home her stomek will become big. 11. This bird look like small leg and big body. 12. This pig look like dog. no meat and no skin. 13. The ant look like broom stick and grass. !