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If I leave then who will teach these children?": Lasallians in Rural and Remote Papua New Guinea

Posted by Grace Wrakia on 25 August 2020
If I leave then who will teach these children?": Lasallians in Rural and Remote Papua New Guinea

In July 2020, a group of Lasallian teachers from distant, remote schools travelled to one such school for a three- day retreat. They took valuable time to share the exultations and tribulations in their Lasallian lives. They recounted both sadness and inspiration.

One Lasallian teacher was physically attacked in the school by a fellow teacher for speaking up about the unprofessional conduct of teachers. Teachers were chewing betel nut while conducting Assembly and doing official duties. A mediation was held between the two parties and peace was finally reached when the betel nut teacher admitted that what he did was wrong and apologised.

Another Lasallian who is the head teacher in a primary school, was verbally assaulted by drunk youths from the school's surrounding communities. This head teacher had to speak up against youths who continuously harass young female teachers. The teacher became the target of ridicule, verbal assaults and threats, concluding "it was better I take the full brunt of this harassment because I have grown a thicker skin over the many years of experience and I can take it,  than to see a new graduate teacher losing their passion for teaching  because of attacks like these". Authorities and police have stepped in to assist this head teacher and other teachers.

A third and junior teacher had to step up under difficult situations to manage or run a school, after the head teacher and senior teacher left the school. With little experience but great confidence, he has managed the school of 500 students and 7 teachers for the last six months.  The pandemic added to already existing challenges, and was further topped by an ignorant and unco-operative local community. This Lasallian teacher asked himself : "if I go too then who will teach these children?" With that self-conviction, and backed up by few years of Lasallian formation, he plans to stay on to complete this academic year and maybe -if allowed- continue to teach there for some more years. He hopes to turn this school around for the better.

Many shared their dissatisfaction about the lack of or no emphases placed by their colleagues in the teaching of Christian Religious Education (CRE). Lasallians expressed sadness at this and many of them have decided to take up additional CRE classes themselves.  They said: "CRE is a very important and core subject in the curriculum and therefore must be taught with care and zeal".

(In this article there is no intention to discredit or disrespect any school, community and  authorities, but to draw light on the dedication of some teachers in the provinces, and honour  them for it).

I sincerely thank these Lasallians who talked about their life's journey. Listening to these stories, I personally appreciated their dedication, and admired their boldness to stand up for what is right, in justice for the vulnerable children in the schools.

Let us continue to pray for Lasallians and especially for the lone Lasallian teacher, teaching in a rural and remote school in Papua New Guinea.  Their stories continue to inspire us.

Author: Grace Wrakia
About: Papua New Guinea National Coordinator Lasallian Family PNG
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