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13 July 2013

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I grew up in rural Bundi, and would walk back home with my younger siblings every Friday after school to get our weeks supply of kaukau to attend school. English is our third language. We attended St Francis of Assisi Primary School, which was built in the late 50s. The school was a Catholic agency school and we had nuns and a priest teaching us along with national staff. Many of my contemporaries gave up. They went back home where life was easy, or just dropped out along the way. Me and my siblings didnt, we struggled on; and Im proud to say that against cultural mentality, all my sisters graduated with degrees and are holding decent jobs. All these came out of our sweat too, not only our parents, and not only because we had good teachers back then. What I want to stress here is the fact that the education system today, does not feed the inquisitive mind, nor does it feed the hunger to know! I remember growing up, I would read book after book, even reading in class too, and being punished for it! I read all the history books in our Primary school library. In high school, I read all Nancy Drew and Hardy boys books, and more history. I read the Bible too, mostly Old Testament at my own time, because it contained classic literature, and was a great book. As a result, I came top of the class in English and Social Science, and Religion. I also did well in Geography too. Most of our kids nowadays are fed all these garbage from the media, which in fact killed their inquisitive self. Urban and semi urban children are worse. On the other hand, the teaching staff, need to lift their performance. The government must put money into building proper housing and facilites, and give teachers more incentives, to encourage them to work in rural areas. It takes much to educate a child, good teachers, good facilites and materials, parents, but it is the child himself, who has to have the hunger to learn.

Educate the parents (as well) so that they can teach their children at home. No place like home for the child to learn....better than the classroom.

It worked on me, working on my kids. Never expect (or trust) the teacher to do everything in the classroom for you).

Reform igo igo na bai yumi reform yet na stap na bai i nogat gutfla senis.

By the way, I have small brothers and sisters who were the products of the new reform and they even can't read and speak good english.

Ol bik antap lo edukisen opis ating ol mas ino educated inap osem na ol wok lo reform yet! It's a waste of time and governments money to come up with reforms.

Ho ol lain tintin na yupla wokim samtin maski lo faul faul tumas kar ba bamim yufla.

Here's the original, and brilliant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ3fjQa5Hls

I have great debates with Rose over correct English pronunciation. She had an American English teacher, I grew up in England. So is it daynce or dance, chaynce or chance? Tomayto or Tomato?

I don't know. All I know is that language is elastic and ever-evolving - and all to the good.

But I'll never call a castle a cassle (although they do in Geordie land). Newcastle?

Let's call the whole thing off.

Two things to remember -

Literacy is the ability to read and write one's own name and further for knowledge and interest, write coherently, and think critically about the written word. That applies to Kuman as much to English.

Second - a written and read language is fairly new to PNG culture. So the definitions and tests of 'literacy' are western and anglocentric, (or Eurocentric).

You do realise that in the 1880's 80 percent of French people couldn't actually read and write in French? Occitan, Breton, Basque, Provençal, Flemish, etc. were their Tok Ples.


Examples - see if modern English speakers can freely understand these snippets -

"appen there's owt for nowt, gradely I tells thee"

"Mother our Crockey’s Cawven sine’t grew dark
And Ise flaid to come nar, she macks sike warke,


"Whan he hed waukit frae his sleep, Joseph did as the angel hed bidden him, an tuik his trystit wife hame wi him. But he bedditna wi her or she buir a son; an he caa’d the bairn Jesus".

These are all examples of valid English dialects.

Are we literate in these?

About six years back I remember listenning to a radio talk (on a PMV headed to Four Mile) about literacy rates in PNG.

There was a discussion about what illiteracy meant and the commentator described an [absolute?] illiteracy, where people simply could not read at all and a functional illiteracy, where people could read stuff but could not interact with the ideas and information supplied or express their own responses in proper written language.

I think the conclusion was that PNG had a high rate of functional illiteracy, for English and even for Tok Pisin - we speak it but we don't write it or read it much.

The idea of reading being a solitary activity is interesting to me. How does that compare with my observation, when I was in school, that girls tend to read a whole lot more than boys?

I had a good mate in highschool and we both used to hang out together in the library and read.

There were other groups of children who also hung out at the library, but they ended up just fooling around. There was no support or encouragement from the library staff, no one to meet the kids and sit down with them to read. Except for the big show during book week.

Active pursuit of reading is not for everyone, but learning how to read actively is surely a skill for everyone - whether you're gonna pick up a copy of Nature or read a poster about exotic diseases that's likely to ruin your taro.

Bai yumi reform, reform igo na still end up wantaim low level English na embarrassing local vernaculars.

In the 70s and 80s we had the objectives based curriculum in our community and high schools. English was taught from preschool to graduate school and its speaking, enforced within school premises.

In the late 90s and onward with the new reform, outcomes based curriculum was introduced, and local vernacular was included in the lower primary.

We ended up with 8th, 10th or 12th graders who really did not understand English to a satisfactory level.

These excluded students who went through international schools. I had 12th graders who were still mixing up their grammar or tenses (in Moresby).

Today I read National, and Post and am embarrassed with what I read sometimes with regards to the level of the standard of written and spoken English.

I hear now they want to do away with the outcomes based and go back to objectives based curriculum or whatever relevant curriculum.

C'mon education department. Give PNG something solid. This is the 21st century for goodness' sake. Givim ol mangi quality English, enforcim tu na sweat inap olgeta mangi toktok na raitim proper English whether ol stop lo grade 6, 8, 10, 12 or uni. Maski passim ol sapos ol i no save long spellim word.

Het blo mi pen lo ol disla reform igo ikam.

I suspect that the low literacy levels referred to are those measured for English, Tok Pisin and French (for the Francophone countries). I find the low levels for Tok Pisin rather hard to take at face value.

But what if you measured literacy by proficiency in Tok Ples?

It's a bit like expecting Aussie kids to be proficient in, say Pitjantjatjara.

Barbara - you could try this...

http://www.pina.com.fj/?p=pacnews&m=read&o=138743111651dce29b0f701c423089

Great news, Francis.
I wonder if you can read any of the papers online.

In PNG, a week long national education forum which commenced on 8 July at the University of Goroka ended yesterday.

The main objectives were to review the entire education system and to come up with a reformed system which is modern and conducive to the modern ways of life.

There were many excellent papers presented, including the issues raised here.

Those who attended and we who listened to the live broadcast by the NBC are optimistic that good things will come out of the forum.

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