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15 December 2016


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Deschooling society by Ivan Illich is worth a read

When I arrived for my first day of school way back in the early 1950s, I could already read and write and do arithmetic. This was due to my parents and the importance they placed on books and reading.

In PNG, where English is a second language not used in a lot of homes and where books are not generally available that sort of opportunity to learn is not there. This places the kids at a distinct disadvantage.

Those first couple of years in school are absolutely crucial to the future of the students and you would expect that would be where the most effort would be concentrated by the teachers.

Unfortunately this doesn't seem to happen.

Is it just too hard - as Ed intimates?

Back in the days when expats like me worked in the PNG primary education sector there was a dilemma, for a while at least, regarding which grade level we (presumably) better educated/trained teachers should teach.

Grade 6, where we could help the children prepare better for the high school entry exam; or Prep and Grade 1 where we could provide a stronger foundation in English language skills.

For a short time in the then Sepik District, expat teachers were directed to teach in the lower classes - until we rebelled, in a manner of speaking: teaching those entry level children was much much harder and much more demanding than teaching the older children.

We didn't use that as a reason, though, and hid behind the entry exam argument - even though we knew that, with the shortage of available high school places in those days, perhaps only two or three of 40+ Grade 6 children would get into high school, a few of the boys would join the army or police force and the girls, for the most part, would remain in the village.

What makes you think they sit at a table to eat their dinner Bernard? More likely they are plonked on the lounge suite in front of a massive idiot box eating takeaway with their fingers.

You have to be careful too. There are lots of rough diamonds in the bush who turn out to be the salt of the earth.

I met one living on the Nullarbor Plain living in a house made out of railway sleepers with about 100 feral Shetland ponies. We discussed literature well into the night.

I have just returned from a visit to Moranbah in regional Queensland and came across this post and can confirm the cultural divide of the Torres Strait is not as great as imagined.

In the departure lounge at Brisbane domestic airport I was seated adjacent to a cashed up bogan from the tattoos to teeth ratio brigade.

Company clothing, which was supplemented by jewellery protruding from every orifice, indicated he was employed by a US resources behemoth that is currently in receivership.

Every alternate word uttered by the mutant was obscene language and he used the term mate much more prolifically than Scott Morrison.

The cost of the tattoos could easily have been used to further his education and the standard of the company's recruitment processes beggars belief.

I asked the individual to curb his language but he did not even realise he was swearing, which to quote Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, merely demonstrates a lack of vocabulary. It would be interesting to listen to a conversation at the household dining table.

Quality education is obviously not just a PNG problem.

And, no doubt, the fat-cats are sending their children to Cairns, Brisbane, and Toowoomba and similar places.

What a mess that situation must be causing for tertiary outcomes in PNG.

With heavy handed political oversight in place, objective critiques are less likely to be heard due to fear of repercussions.

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