A PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER’S LIFE IN GOILALA


Hi, my name is Mr. Primary School Teacher.
Obviously I am a Teacher by Profession. And I  teach up in the remote, isolated, rough and very challenging rugged, unfriendly mountainous terrains of Goilala which is stuck up against the Owen Stanley Ranges.

The people of Goilala are loving, kind, and have the spirit of sharing.

As my story go on, you will come to connect my description of Goilala people to make sense.

Once a school year begins, on the last week of February every year, by law, we teachers are supposed to be the first people there on the school ground.

Actually we should be there 2-3 weeks earlier preparing for the registration week. Then come first week, we are never there.

But unfortunately, we are struck in Port Moresby, still trying sort out a “few errands” before flying off.

Flying off?

Yes we fly off mostly to Woitape, Fane or Yongai via a chartered light cesna aircraft.

Chartered, because the third level airlines servicing goilala airstrips have cut back on their service provision for safety reasons and high maintenance costs.

Teachers posted in Tapini LLG and Guari LLG schools also jump onto jam packed PMV and drive up to Tapini where the road ends and then we walk the rest of the journey to their respective schools.

Those of us who land at Fane, Woitape, Ononge and Yongai also walk through challenging terrains to reach our posted schools.

This traveling happens well into Term 1. Its either week 7 of Term 1 or worse case scenario we make it to school at the start of Term 2.

Why aren’t we at school on time?

There is a lot of factors that contribute to such.

  1. Normally Government offices close for Christmas and New Year around November previous year. Government offices then open for normal duties around second week February each year. This in itself contributes directly to us having to squeeze all necessary tasks for our schools before we head off.
  2. A good number of us are “put off the payroll” by the Catholic Education Secretary and the District Education Sector Cordinator in collaboration with Provincial Education Divisional heads from Konedobu, who get these suspension recommends to TSC  – Teaching Services Commission – who actions it.
    The grounds on which we are put off the payroll is never communicated to us. However we only find out when we come to Port Moresby.
  3. Budget constraints.
    All operating schools are pressed upon to budget their expenditure around a monetary figure of K3000.00.
    Any budget that goes passed K3000.00 naturally is squeezed and thrown into the rubbish in at office of the Catholic Agency HQ.We are told to buy the stationary we would need for one year and then leave these at the Bereina Diocese Office which will be sent to our schools later.

    In essence this means these gear will land at the nearest airstrip and will stay there at the mercy of locals near the airstrip until we organize our students and walk to the location where our stationary is bring them back to our schools.

  4. Another major issue we face in our respective schools is, we aren’t sure if we are been assessed based on our performances.This we aren’t sure because we never get to see any of our District Educational officers at our schools nor do we hear of such. If the District officials are coming then the Provincial Education officials are rarely seen nor do we hear of such.

It seems were are been employed to be just Primary School Teachers with no appraisals what so ever.

We don’t come to Port Moresby every second week nor do we have access to banking services and telephone services and other fancy utilities like phone banking and epfos services.

Most of us dont bother coming down to Port Moresby during the whole year because of the difficulties we face with transportation coming out. We don’t get soap and other rations easily hence one can imagine how caveman type appears we have grown into over this period of time.

The government is chest beating about its free education policy but what free education are you guys talking about?

This we say because we never have not seen nor heard of this subsidies at all. We are told the Catholic Church through its Bereina Dioceses manage and control all school subsides but if it did we would have been doing our school shopping with amounts beyond K3000.00.

This is unless of course we missing something.

With all this been said we want to know the job of the Standard Officers. Do we have standard officers for Goilala District? We don’t seem to have any because if we had, we would have seen some kind of standards in place.

Right now we are operating at an adhoc basis. Not sure of the rest of Central Province is in the same boat so is the whole country.

Now what is the Catholic Education Secretary’s job in as far as Goilala’s education system is concern? We are of the opinion that the CES is a mere rubber stamp who gets pushed around by Catholic Church Agency and the District and Provincial Education officials.

Bring into the equation the District Education Sector Cordinator.

What’s his job? What does he do all year in Port Moresby? He has a vehicle that was given to him. On what assessment KPIs was the DES assessed to warrant such a step up on his allowances which includes a vehicle?

The DES & CES are from Goilala. But if they have Goilalas future generation in their heart to ensure they have a bright future is obviously nonexistent.

Add onto that the fact, CES & DES have no time at for the welfare and the rights and concerns for all the Teachers in Goilala shows they are mere puppets.

Either they are incompetent and need immediate termination or they are part of a bigger network of characters who abuse and misuse public funds for their own good.

The Catholic Church Agency is also part of the whole problem.

Most of the schools in Goilala are managed by the Agency. But the openness and the free flow of information from the Agency to Teachers and vice versa is nonexistant.

The barrier or a vaccum that exists between the Agency and the Teachers teaching in Goilala is so wide and deep. We fail to understand.

If the Agency manages all schools in Goilala then we don’t have a form of direction at all. We don’t get to hear monthly updates or briefs of what the Agency has for all its schools.

Cap my long boring article with the fact that there is no political will and leadership at all in Goilalas education system. We are not sure if we have our LLG Presidents and their councilors exists. We even don’t know if we have a political representative for Goilala in Parliament. We don’t even know if we have a District Administration and a HQ in Tapini.

Having said this, we hope you (Anthony Morant) will help me get our story out for the world to see.

More will be coming through as time goes by. But please keep up the top job you doing. We now have an avenue where we can express our concerns without fear or favor.

4 thoughts on “A PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER’S LIFE IN GOILALA

  1. Look like a hero wrote that letter. My question is how many heroic Goilala Teachers are there? If they are so many, why we need teachers from outside to run Goilala schools? Also, where are the “heroic” district and provincial education authorities? Why they are not coming to see with their own eyes how the “heroic” Goilala teachers are (not)working while still being paid… This is why I am teaching myself in my own Catholic Parish “School” (let us call it a parents-home-schooling type education pastoral center). Kids are happy. Parents are happy. I have no headaches with “heroic” Teachers. I do not see any chance for improvement in government run system in next 20-30 years. In 20 years I will have my own Teachers home-made grown in Goilala. Let us be realistic. I was saying these things for last 5 years. The worse is still to come. We are just heading into the eye of cyclone. Wake up!

  2. Father Malota,
    Thank you for the comment and absolutely correct. The main purpose of this article more or less is to get the responsible authorities to come out and justify their side of the story.

    The teacher may be part of the problem but as far the whole education system in set up in goilala and is function, alot of factors come into play to create the scenario we see on show here now.

    Teacher have left school because of reasons known to themselves.

    Has there been any action taken by Provincial Education authorities, in this case, to investigate and get to the root cause of them leaving?

    Has there been disciplinery action taken on parties found to be guilty of the wrong?

    Until some form of justice is implemented by way of an investigation into the issues been faced by the schools/teachers/students/BOGs/ we will continue to have disgrunted people.

  3. Patrick D Ghorok comment:

    Well, what do we say about what Mr Primary School Teacher has mentioned. The story is an experience of difficulties encountered by a committed person. One thing I noticed is the timing for resumption is somehow incorrect.

    The story doesn’t require few individuals to respond. Firstly, we need various education authorities in the province to reply. These include the provincial government, the Provincial Education Board, the Local Level Government, the responsible agencies and Boards of Management. These five line of authorities of education in the province are to address the issues raised.

    The area I can reply to is Education Standards. Firstly, the district didn’t have a Standard Officer for 3 years now. However, efforts to established proper education systems and standards has been difficult because of some misconceptions in the line of authorities as outlined in the Education Act, 1983.

    In, early 2012, a report writing skills workshop was conducted to Goilala Headteacher at PNGEI. This is to address the problem of Teacher Appraisals in the district as a directive of the Supervision & Management reform. Out of those trained, only one is left in Goilala right now. Where are the rest? Why did they leave Goilala? Can we try to find the reason Goilala teachers are leaving? My question is, Does the district really need a Standard Officer? Or Is the Standard Officers presence required for change? If so, what will we do when we are pushed out of appointment to recommend for retention of best teachers. For your information, we cannot appraise a primary school teacher who teaches Gr 1 & 2. These are elementary grades. The number of subject in these grades are less than the requirement of a primary teacher. That is not the required standard. On the other hand we have been appraising teachers out there despite no SOs. Last year we flew to tolukuma and Ononge for registration new graduates. Our greatest challenge out there is there is the effective implementation of School Based Teacher Appraisals However, the fact there is no SO for Goilala. Recent appointments are yet to be finalised. The claim by the teacher in operating schools on ad hoc basis is correct. The effectiveness on the SOs work depend on so many factors too. But, yes its painful to see Goilala teachers being affected and being put off salaries without due humanitarian consideration.

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