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Papua New Guinea
In the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea, literacy rates are incredibly low. Poor access to quality education is having a profound impact on communities struggling to overcome poverty. With minimal government funding, school teachers lack the skills and qualifications to provide adequate education, and poor classroom infrastructure and resources are negatively impacting on student engagement.
Thanks to your generous support, in the last year CARE has been working to fill the gaps in PNG’s education system, helping vulnerable communities break the cycle of poverty. CARE teams have trained teachers to rollout the new national curriculum, as well as provided technical support to government officials and local representatives to create joint school learning improvement plans. Through these plans, school boards, teachers and parents are working together to improve learning in their school.
With your help, this next phase of the project continues its focus on improving gender relations at the household and community level and shifting attitudes and social norms that contribute to low school attendance rates – particularly among girls and people living with disabilities. By creating opportunities for community leadership, and supporting teachers to achieve higher education qualifications, all children across the country can have access to the education they deserve.
Thank you for helping fill the gaps in PNG’s education system, and making quality education accessible for generations to come.
In Papua New Guinea more than 80% of the population live in rural areas, with limited access to health centres, education and agricultural services. Improving education is critical to enabling a stronger, more prosperous country, and investing in girls and early childhood development in particular, is the most effective way to get there.
CARE’s project is providing teachers with higher education opportunities and on-the-job training to improve their confidence in delivering the Standards Based Curriculum – new national standards designed for all students across PNG, including numeracy and literacy benchmarks. CARE is also providing schools with quality teaching and learning materials to help boost student engagement and classroom interactivity.
The project is encouraging parents and communities to be more engaged with their children’s education and a Community Leadership Program is bringing together community leaders to better understand and address damaging social and cultural barriers that prevent equal access to education and employment opportunities.
During this period, CARE has focussed on strengthening relationships between education stakeholders and community members, paving the way in implementing project activities and furthering project sustainability. By supporting teachers to rollout the nation-wide Standards Based Curriculum (SBC), and linking school inspectors with provincial divisions of education to conduct joint planning, CARE is working to ensure project activities are having the maximum impact. The SBC is helping teachers learn how to teach the new English and Mathematics curricula, including new teaching strategies to improve literacy and numeracy learning outcomes
As mentioned in the interim report in April 2019, the project has been affected by time constraints relating to the unforeseen extension in data collection to include two extra provinces, reducing the implementation timeframe to 16 months. In this period, CARE worked to mitigate challenges that arose through careful monitoring of delays, the recruitment of additional staff and added support for project participants, aiming to ensure project quality and standards were in no way compromised.
Improving teaching quality
Thanks to you, significant progress has been made on improving elementary teachers’ skills and confidence in teaching English and mathematics. A total of 1,313 elementary teachers from 423 project schools across all four targeted provinces have attended SBC support workshops which covered topics including child protection, positive discipline and classroom management, as well as setting up a classroom library.
Follow-up monitoring showed teachers have greater understanding of the SBC structure and more confidence delivering SBC teaching strategies which include stories, songs and assessments. In response to new techniques in managing student behaviour, three teachers hosted a community reconciliation event in which teachers made a public commitment to stop physical discipline in schools and instead engage in positive discipline strategies.
Some 297 elementary teachers enrolled in the University of Goroka Early Childhood Education diploma course – a course designed to equip teachers with knowledge in educating young children and using age-appropriate teaching methods. Anecdotal reports show overall improved confidence and knowledge, with one participant saying “[.. I learned..] how different age groups have different learning needs and that I have to give work according to age.”
CARE delivered School Management training to 699 Teachers in Charge and Boards of Management representatives from 556 elementary schools. All participating schools have developed a School Learning Improvement Plan (SLIP) and the use of SLIP for school management has increased.
Providing learning materials
In support of the rollout of the SBC, CARE continues to equip teachers, district education officers and other education stakeholders with learning materials that strengthen a consistent and inclusive knowledge base. CARE worked with teachers to interpret SBC learning guides to use scripted lessons and phonics learning. CARE’s local partners engaged parents to support their children’s education through an adult literacy program. During the graduation ceremony, several parents shared that they now spend time reading and learning with their children.
A set of 70 reading books has been procured for each project school in Jiwaka, Simbu, Western Highlands and West New Britain. Additional reading packs will be distributed to schools that have successfully set up a classroom library; and community reading packs are procured to use at reading events.
CARE, along with partners have designed a pilot website for Knowledge Hub – an online digital platform which promotes knowledge sharing between project staff, teachers and government officers. Since data collection revealed social media uptake among project participants, the project is also exploring establishing a Facebook page to further encourage sharing of resources, learning and inspiring change stories.
Working towards equality
To address low attendance rates in schools (particularly for girls), CARE is raising awareness on the impact that gender norms have on girls’ attendance in school by setting up the community leadership program called Community Voice for Girls Education in 12 sites across all four target provinces. The program focusses on building awareness of the impact that existing gender norms have on school attendance, retention rates and learning outcomes, and works with parents and communities to develop action plans to shift these norms and further support children’s learning.
St. Theresa Koronigle Elementary School in remote Papua New Guinea has been operating for 12 years – but it was only registered in 2014. Up until then, the government had no record of its existence. It was run entirely by volunteer teachers with a passion for education, but with little academic qualifications; doing their best to help their vulnerable community break the cycle of poverty.
32-year-old John has been the Teacher in Charge at St. Theresa Koronigle Elementary for six years. For the five years before that, he volunteered in response to a desperate community need to set up a school.
“Without education we have nothing,” says John. “Young children need knowledge. It’s the best help to their community. Girls, in today’s time especially, need as much education as boys.”
In 2014, the school was finally registered and received some government funding. Teachers could then afford to buy some pens, chalk and improve school infrastructure – but due to its remote location, the government still couldn’t provide teachers with higher qualifications and training.
“The teachers really need training – it would make such a difference to the school,” says John. But teachers cannot afford the relevant Diploma of Education.
Hellen is a Grade 1 teacher at the school, and she also volunteers while her husband works at the local hospital to support the family. “I don’t really know how to write lesson plans because I was not trained... Sometimes the kids are stubborn or misbehave,” says Hellen. “Training would help me deal with children like this... and [know] how to help them change their behaviour in the best way.”
Hellen’s eight-year-old daughter Alexcolyn (pictured below) is also a Grade 1 student at the school with big plans to become a police officer and help keep her community safe. But like many students in her remote region, she is limited by the lack of resources and learning materials available.
“I wish we had more writing materials like pens and books,” says Alexcolyn.
Thanks to your generous donations, CARE’s Pikinini Kisim Save project is working with vulnerable schools like St. Theresa Koronigle Elementary School to provide essential resources and infrastructure to improve the quality of education. By strengthening links between government, communities and schools and providing teachers with a Diploma of Education and additional training and mentoring, young girls like Alexcolyn can be proud of their schools and have the chance to achieve their dreams.