Free Lunch

Free Lunch

Mangi Nating
Mangi Nating

September 26th, 2011, 9:01 am #1

The government has decided to fund the education of all young Papua New Guineans at a cost of K1 billion: K300 million now and the balance in the new year. Here are some other less taxing (hehe) alternatives at achieving the same objective. Unfortunately they are not as gimmicky.

<b>FUNDING</b>

1. Elementary – Free for all these cute critters.

2. Primary & Secondary. Target the subsidization at those who are unable to meet their school fee obligations. Because we cannot collect/collate any useful data, use place of residence as a proxy for need for subsidy. For example, settlement area children pay 30% and State pays 70%. Rural children must be free. This subsidy can be raised from an additional tax on alcohol and tobacco in addition to whatever funds the national and/or provincial government assigns to it yearly.

3. Tertiary. Those attending university/technical institutes should have access to a student loan facility. The particulars of such a scheme would have to be worked out. It would work something like this. The student’s parents/family (student him/herself) comes up with 5-10% of the school fee, with the remainder funding from the student loan. The loan is interest free until the graduate has landed employment at which stage the student makes repayments to the loan. There are quite a few issues with the student loan concept which I will not go into today, but do raise them later in the thread if you think of them.

4. Scholarships – based on merit (Tertiary).

<b>TEACHING</b>

It is one thing to have children in school; what do we teach them?
At the elementary level, kids need to learn English. Forget tok pisin and tok ples, kids need to be fluent in the lingua franca of the world – and that (for better or worse) is English. It may surprise some people but kids already know tok pisin and pick up their tok ples from their parents.

In Secondary, apart from a firm focus on the core subjects I believe that we need to equip the students to understand the world economy and how they can equip themselves to get into the marketplace – either as job takers (employees) or job creators (entrepreneurs). We need to create competitions, idea sessions etc… where students collectively come up with solutions to people’s problems, products that they could make and bring to market etc… So, (a) core subjects, (b) Agriculture (as a business) – not how can I grow a yam to feed myself, but how can I run a farm as a business, (c) business (how can I manage a business, be a business person), (d) what skills do I need to break into the workplace and (e) preparing students to branch into technical, liberal arts (law, etc…) or sciences and (f) conflict resolution using the law NOT recourse to primitive methods.

We need to spend the millions on training our teachers so that they can provide this level of teaching and we need to spend the millions on improving the teaching facilities so that when our students get into their improved classrooms, with their better trained teachers, they will feel that the hard earned money that their parents (or in the case of tertiary) they themselves have paid will be well worth it.

Here are two last ideas.

1) To contribute to continual teacher improvement, certain schools could partner up with overseas schools in Australia/New Zealand. A teacher from the partner school in Australia, New Zealand could come to PNG and teach in conjunction with his/her partner teachers here in PNG for a week and then the favor returned with the PNGn teacher heading down south or to NZ and teaching there for 2-3 weeks with his teaching partners down there. Such exposures would be beneficial for our teachers and the students. Two issues are teacher safety when visiting here and funding (NZAID & AUSAID funding?)
2) In conjunction with the above (or instead of it), there could be fortnightly video conferencing with partner classrooms in Australia/New Zealand (heck even the U.S and Uzbekistan) , where students can work with their classmates halfway around the world on joint programs. Such programs would be beneficial in developing the confidence of our children in dealing with foreigners as equals rather than as subordinates.

The major issue here is the astonishingly expensive cost of Internet in Papua New Guinea. It is an unfortunate impediment to the economic and intellectual development of our country.

I wrote these ideas down so they could spark discussion/reflection and hopefully they may reach those who can effect some changes.
Quote
Share

General Pooh
General Pooh

September 26th, 2011, 7:54 pm #2

The whole reason why the PNG education system was reformed years ago to start in tokples or tok pisin was because throughout the world there is strong evidence that when you start kids trying to read and write in a language they don't understand in the first place, they do poorly, much more poorly than if you start them in the language they're familiar with, THEN move them to a second language (like English).

But once again, as always in PNG, we never bother to investigate the reasons for why anything is done. Instead we jump on the latest new wagon, the next new thing, change everything around, and screw things up again. This is exactly what the Dept Education is about ready to do. Why? No understanding of history, no caring about underlying reasons. Simple as that.

God help PNG as it continues to create new problems for ourselves.
Quote
Share

Mangi Nating
Mangi Nating

September 27th, 2011, 8:59 am #3

Hi Pooh,

I'd be interested in the literature that "proves" this claim. I learned English from my earliest and had no problems.

Could it be that PNG kids have been doing poorly because the quality of teaching has decreased over the years? Nowadays, teachers are likely to be absent from school as often as their students. Could it be because the infrastructure necessary to teach the children has not been maintained/upgraded? Try teaching in a classroom when the rain leaks through the roofs.

The bandwagons/fads that you talk about are usually introduced by some idiotic external consultant, usually of a liberal bent. What I am suggesting is we forget this fuddy-duddy idea about teaching kids in tok-ples and start teaching them in English at the onset. Kids have a wonderful ability to easily acquire new languages. Modern ideas are more easily conveyed in English than they are in any of our tokples. What is the tokples word for space station? or meteor? or television even? By resorting to tok-ples teaching you are limiting the ability of our kids to understand the basic items in their modern world and assigning them to a primitive time.



Quote
Share

My Say
My Say

September 28th, 2011, 12:30 am #4

No matter what curriculum is used, the biggest issue and factor responsible for our deteriorating education is the appalling quality of our teachers, the disgusting lack of teacher and student learning resources in the classroom and (less important), whether or not the classroom roofs leak.
Quote
Share

Attrition & Agglomeration - say it in pidgin
Attrition & Agglomeration - say it in pidgin

December 1st, 2011, 11:06 am #5

Hi,

Thanks for putting down your ideas for a PNG education system. Good on the government for finally recognizing and putting money behind the importance of health and education to the development and prosperity of PNG now and for generations to come! I hope that the funds are directed as intended.. but that is another point.

I think a lot of your views are valid and I have some general comments.
– Elementary education should be free – to allow all children to get core literacy and numeracy foundantion and meet millennium development goals. So I agree. In countries such as mexicos they such as serving morning teas – so that children get healthy meals (where often they didn’t eat or had deficient diets and so didn’t concentrate and learn at schools). Further parents received tax breaks or vouchers for other things – if their children had good school attendance.
– Primary and secondary subsidized education – on an individual student basis based place of residence may not be a great solution. How would this be implemented? – families line up to get the money (wantok system effects), or the school applies to the government for subsidy (fudge the facts). People can lie about their place of residence – there is no easy way of verifying addresses. Funding for schools based on their catchment of students may be a better basis for school subsidization and passed on lower fees. Again subsidies to schools should be incentivized e.g. subject to a degree of performance assessment.
– Tertiary loan facility – I think is an ok idea – but should be subject to meeting some minimum course requirements or…you get professional students - there for a free ride. Then if the graduates then enter the informal sector, are self employed they don’t pay. It only works if employers with a tax file number, are required make tax payments – i.e. deductions on a person’s pay packet. With less pay each fortnightly – is more of an incentive not to work in the formal sector – particularly in city areas where rent prices are ridiculous and people struggle to get by. If a person’s qualifications are internationally recognize – they might migrate…then you don’t get a repayment on the loan or a return to PNG – through their professional contributions.
– Scholarships - definitely so that the brightest are given the opportunities to excel – the future academics, entrepreneurs and leaders of PNG. I would suggest scholarships be available at all available at all levels of education – provided it is not too politicized or wantok system. Perhaps standardized and central PNG exams (e.g. Grade 6, Grade 10 exams etc) – on basis of performance on a school and regional basis.

I agree that English should be taught in all schools earlier on – for PNG to be internationally competitive and encourage international investment (English literate workforce). Further there are a plethora of existing educational resources – books, videos, CDs, internet – that is in English – and should be accessible to students and use for critical analysis. The reason that the founding PNG governments – pushed for traditional languages to be first taught in schools, then pidgin then English – had little to do with the ability for children to learn English by starting with a familiar language – but rather preservation of culture and traditions through the ability to tell their stories in their language. Yes it is important that there is a degree of preservation – but languages in their full sophistication are dying with elders – and people intermarry between different language groups – so families are more likely to speak pidgin in the home. Traditional languages were not traditionally written – there are no traditional alphabets. Further pidgin has limitations as a language on expression of sophisticated knowledge. Pidgin is a bastardised and derived language adopted for the purposes of trade in the region. English is the 21st century – language of trade – I think that Chinese should also be taught in schools as a subject.
I agree that entrepreneurial skills should be taught in schools early. Critical thinking is also important.

Investment in teachers – our human capital – I agree is important. I think that international exchanges and international support networks is an excellent idea. Perhaps it be coupled with formal training. I think that if performance and attendance for teachers were incentivized e.g. reward and recognition – that you would get improvement in attendance.
The cost of internet is high – but PNG has the benefit of limited existing infrastructure – and thus can benefit from increasingly cheaper mobile internet infrastructure.
I agree with ‘my say’ another aspect of the integrated solution apart from students and teachers – is teaching infrastructure. I hope that with the K1b plus roll out that it includes teaching materials and classrooms. Perhaps to kill two birds with one stone – that local government offices – get fast internet provided that at those offices there is allocated space and computer terminals so that the public and students to get cheap or free (voucher system) internet. That is provided people don’t steal computers or dig up cables – and undermine all efforts.
Quote
Share

Mangi Nating
Mangi Nating

December 5th, 2011, 9:01 am #6

Hi Attrition(?)

Good point about the difficulty of implementing subsidies based on place of residence; we aren't the most fastidious record keepers in the world. There is a debate (which I am not too fully up on) in the US about the voucher system and charter schools, not sure if that was what you were referring to when you talked about a voucher system.

Valid points on the tertiary loan scheme as well, although in the case of migrants, their remittances would compensate (partly)for the default on their loan, as it would bring in foreign exchange and it would be direct to families. Additionally studies have shown (or so I've read)that the direct remittances from expatriate workers from poor countries tends to be more effective than foreign aid, because it reaches the people whom it was intended for in the first place.

The preservation of culture can best by done by having our people document our history while the older generation are still around. This is best done by a concerted (and rapid) effort by a government body (the NRI perhaps or NCC?) to document the stories, legends, and cultural history of all the various people within Papua New Guinea, not to mention the languages. I think the Bible Society (?) in their translation of the bible in various languages and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (?) are doing work in this area. The Internet could be utilized for a less formal and collaborative effort by Papua New Guineans in documenting their culture.

One related idea is that the online collaborative effort could consist of people recording audio or videos of older people in their villages and uploading them to a site with accompanying text. The site could be maintained by a government body (not holding my breath) or it could be a private enterprise.

In general I believe we both agree on the importance of education and I totally agree with one word which kept coming out in your post - INCENTIVES.
Quote
Share

Ralph Hamilton
Ralph Hamilton

December 5th, 2011, 5:05 pm #7

Hi MN,
mi wanbel tru mate. English should be the principal language in the schools

However kids' brains are vrey flexible in the language area. I think that losing your plestok is instant loss of culture. They can learn several languages at once. So the various "Plestoks" could be included.

I think you guys realize, that I respect your culture sufficiently to not look at this "keeping of culture" from the old colonial point of view. ie. Keep the natives poor and barefoot, so yone can gawk at them.

By the way MN. Don't be so critical of Tokpisin as "a barstadised language". It has moved on from being the "Trading Language(Lingua Franca) of S.E. Asia".It is a full Creole as it is used in PNG. A vibrant living language. Limited I agree, but fascinating to be part of. I know the original idea was for Tokpisin, was for it to be a stepping stone to full English, and for it to be eventuaally phased out. I feel the advent of such an event, would be unforunate, to say the least.

I have "banged on" at length in another posting on the matter, that PNg cannot afford to not have free and "COMPULSORY" Primary School education, as has Australia. So I will not bore you with that treatise again. I could write for hours on that matter. (Another task for my imminent {not eminent hehe} retirement no?) I also realize (raised three kids) that "free" education is not/never totally free.

Sampela ting ting bilong mi......Ralph.

Quote
Share

Mangi Nating
Mangi Nating

December 7th, 2011, 9:20 am #8

Hi Ralph,

Tok pisin is an excellent language. I am not knocking it. Modern English is a bastard language itself; borrowing very heavily from the Romance languages, Latin and Greek, plus many other languages more recently and inventing new words as it went along. Old English would be almost unrecognizable today, and had a limited vocabulary. Say "Quark," "Photon" and "Laser" in Old English.

I don't believe English is superior to Pidgin, just that because it has grown over time by adopting and inventing new words, it's large vocabulary makes it easier to convey ideas, which is the whole point of language.

We have to be practical. Let us document our history - write it down, capture it on film and audio and preserve it so that our children's children 100 years from now will know about THEIR history and THEIR past. In the meantime, we have to live in the modern world and that means learning English - the language of the world.
Quote
Share

Ralph Hamilton
Ralph Hamilton

December 7th, 2011, 10:17 am #9

Haha MN,
it is strange that you should mention Ancient English.

Quite a few yeaes ago I went to a wedding in Church of England Church just off the Bribie Island Road a couple of Ks from the turnoff.

Anyway. I thought my ears were starting to fail. I could hear the words, but I could not quite comprehend them. After a while I realized that they were doing the service in Chaucher's English. I then retuned my ears, (or my brain) and i was OK from then on.

Funny. I am keen student of Shakespeare, but Chaucer's English is quite a lot different.

At opresent English is the preminent language in the world. It is the language of diplomacy, business, and aviation. Its day will pass. The two fastest growing languages are of course, Mandarin, and strangely, Spasnish. If I were ayoung bloke studying nowdays, I would most certainly be learning Mandarin. The dragon has well and truly woken.

Regards......Ralph.

Quote
Share

Mangi Nating
Mangi Nating

December 12th, 2011, 8:55 am #10

Hi Ralph, Spanish certainly if you are in the states. Just off the top of my head I believe the non-white population will overtake the white population in the US in 2050 or thereabouts. This demographic shift is due largely to the large influx of Latinos from south of their Rio Grande and of course the lower birthrates that whites typically have. Since most of South America with the notable exception of Brazil, speaks Spanish, you can bet that Spanish is going to be a major language in any metropolitan area where there are a large number of Hispanics.

We are all going to be dealing with the Chinese more and more in the future, so it would be prudent, if you were going to learn a language, to skip French and go for Mandarin.


Quote
Share