I am currently in KouKou village training the first cohort of trainee teachers at the brand new School of Education faculty at the Kokoda College. I am excited that after three years of planning, construction and curriculum development we have finally opened the doors.
For 18 years I have been working in, and on, the Papua New Guinean education system – as a teacher, school advisor and principal. PNG is facing a severe crisis of quality and quantity. There are not enough training facilities to train the teachers required and the quality of training is rudimentary.
600,000 school-aged children cannot go to school simply because of the lack of teachers. Even based on a class size of 40-students, my country urgently needs 15,000 new teachers before it can contemplate meeting the UN’s Millennium Development Goal of universal, free primary education.
Teachers with only six weeks of formal training – PNG Government’s teacher training program – are sent into schools to teach. Often these teachers have neither the skills, nor the confidence to teach. It results in a high turnover as well as a lack of teachers willing to work in remote areas; where the majority of the population lives.
It is well known that the best way to enhance children’s educational outcomes, and subsequently enhance a community’s health and well-being, is through high-quality teachers. Relevant skills and knowledge to effectively deliver lessons are crucial to the development of young children. Also the importance of providing children with a culturally and linguistically appropriate education – especially within a context that has over 850 distinct languages and cultural groups – needs to be taken into account.
I have been involved in the Kokoda College project from the beginning and I believe it has the potential to break the current cycle of poverty in my country.
Teachers who graduate from the College are better equipped to teach in remote locations – often without any supervision or professional development opportunities – and they provide children attending their schools superior educational outcomes.
I have conducted pilot trainings for teachers from Oro and Central Provinces resulting in confident and skilled teachers well equipped to provide quality education. These pilot trainings now are the basis of the curriculum offered at the College.
I am so proud to be part of this initiative. Kokoda College is the first of its kind in PNG – based in a rural area, bringing training to where it is needed most.
The College will be able to graduate up to 60 elementary teachers per year. I believe it will change the face of education in PNG.