Are school children in PNG actually learning?

PNG school girl learning

Children lacking education is not new to PNG: 600,000 children are currently unable to go to school because of the severe lack of teachers and infrastructure. However, new research by the University of Chicago suggests that in addition to addressing the issue of children not attending school across the developing world, there is a concerning trend with children who are in school and the poor quality of their learning.

Children are going to school, day in day out, year after year, however due to the poor quality of teachers they continue to be innumerate and illiterate. “They are being schooled, but not educated”.

There is currently a global learning crisis of children already in school. Part of the problem is that education, as addressed by the recently expired Millennium Development Goals, was based on ‘the time served’ in school, not the quality of education. Governments across the globe have therefore only focused on the number of children in school; not the quality of their learning. The new Sustainable Development Goals thankfully address the quality issue. Goal #4 “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.”

The current situation in PNG is challenging, even more so as teachers who get their qualifications via the government system attend a training program of 6 weeks only. It is not possible to learn and gain adequate teaching skills and confidence in six weeks time, let alone being able to provide quality education to children in remote and rural areas.

It is well known that the best way to enhance children’s educational outcomes (and 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.

In 2013 KTF developed the idea of establishing a teacher training facility to address both the shortage of teachers as well as the quality of teacher training in PNG. The Kokoda College, as the teacher training facility is called, is located in the jungle of PNG, where the need is the biggest. It provides teachers with a state-of-the-art 40-week program where teachers obtain a Diploma of Elementary Teaching.

The first cohort of Kokoda College teachers will graduate in November this year: Twenty teachers who will go back to their home village and provide children attending their schools superior educational outcomes. The expected ripple effect will change communities and will make a significant contribution to PNG reaching the new Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Click here for more information about Kokoda College.