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New Mission Action Committee for PNG

Posted on 9 October 2015
New Mission Action Committee for PNG

The Lasallian Mission Council has helped convene a new Mission Action Committee aimed at strengthening teacher training and youth programs in remote parts of Papua New Guinea.

The new committee, which met for the first time this month, will bring together representatives from across the four main regions of PNG: Momase, Highlands, New Guinea Islands and Southern Region.

In a country marked by poor telecommunications with little or no access to telephones and internet in some remote areas, the new committee will help ensure all Lasallians in PNG can have a say on key programs in the country.

There are currently four Lasallian schools, two teachers colleges and a youth development centre in Papua New Guinea, all of which struggle with poor resources.

"It's a bold and creative way of rethinking the way we work in PNG", one of the Brothers in Mount Hagen explained.

"The new committee will help us focus our efforts on training new teachers in the country and stay in regular contact with them as part of their formation as Lasallians".

The move comes after the launch earlier this year of a Lasallian Remote Schools Project in PNG.

The Lasallian Foundation has been working alongside the Sisters of Mercy to strengthen support services for teachers in rural and remote parts of the country.

Through the project, a new support worker, Schola Manembe has been employed in Wewak who sends worksheets and classroom resources to teachers in the field.

Until recently, these teachers had to do their day to day jobs with no textbooks, forcing them to rely solely on a curriculum manual issued by the PNG Government, explaining what they had to teach.

One of the PNG Brothers who recently returned from a visit to New Ireland Province said he was appalled over the poor conditions in many schools there.

"Some of the schools are built out of bush material, roofs are in need of repair and the walls are rotting", he said.

"In one of the schools, some of the classrooms couldn't be used because the floorboards were rotting away and if you walked across the floor, you'd fall straight through it."

The Lasallian Mission Council is working to help broker twinning arrangements whereby an Australian school could form a partnership with a number of schools in a PNG province to try and improve their facilities and teaching resources.

In a country with a marked teacher shortage, especially in secondary mathematics and science, it's hoped the twinning arrangements could also in time lead more Australian or New Zealand teachers to travel over to PNG and strengthen the schools there.

"The biggest resource we have in PNG are our teachers", said one of the De La Salle Brothers in Mount Hagen.

"But they have to work in extremely difficult circumstances and if we can help to better resource and upskill them, then we are making an enormous contribution to the future of education in Papua New Guinea".

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