Teach for Tomorrow: Why are there partially-trained teachers in PNG?

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There are currently thousands of teachers across PNG who have only partially-completed their Certificate of Elementary Teaching. When the PNG Government first introduced elementary schooling, there was an urgent need to train a new, very large cohort of elementary teachers. Elementary education comprises Preparatory, Grade 1, and Grade 2 education and it is expected that there is an elementary school within each village across rural and remote PNG.

The most effective way to train the large cohort of new teachers required for this was via a mixed-mode, outreach style of teacher training that was delivered via the education units within each Province. Unfortunately, most Provinces now have a large back log of teachers who began their training at some stage over the past two decades, but were not given the opportunity to complete their training (due to budget restrictions, limited trainers, and competing Government priorities).

These teachers are operating remote schools right across the country and if they don’t undertake further training, they will not be certified by the PNG Government and risk being exited from the teaching profession. In 2017, the PNG Government is changing the way they train elementary teachers and is ending the mixed-mode, outreach style of training. From next year, new teachers will instead be trained from within accredited Teacher’s Colleges via a residential, 40-week programme.

There are approximately 7,500 partially trained elementary teachers across PNG who require urgent training, up-skilling and certification. If they do not complete this training, they will not be eligible for full Government payroll positions. Many of these teachers have been volunteering their services for the past two decades, or working for very small allowances. If they do not complete their training, dissatisfaction levels will rise and many teachers will decide to leave their posts, resulting in the closure of thousands of schools. Tens of thousands of students could lose their access to education. This is a crisis that PNG’s education system simply cannot afford.