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Community Teacher Education in Papua New Guinea

Chapter 1 - Teacher Education:  Its Roots:  a 40 thousand year education tradition
Chapter 2 - Teacher Education:  The Past
Chapter 3 - Teacher Education:  The Future
Chapter 4 - Teacher Education:  i. Pacific Perspectivies
Chapter 5 - Improving Education:  Policy issues
Chapter 6 - Improving Teacher Education:  .i.  Pedagogical problems
Chapter 7 - Improving Teacher Education:  .i.  Political Intrigues
Chapter 8 - Improving Teacher Education:  Contextual Realities
Chapter 9 - Improving Teacher Education:  .i.  Teacher Educators

Materials - are from the complete text of Dennis McLaughlin and Tom O’Donoghue, Book:  Community Teacher Education in Papua New Guinea; August 1996. 133p. A4. ISBN 9980-84-066-8. K20. (overseasUS$20) * as approved for use by authors *

The scope of this book is both broad and narrow. It is broad in that it covers much of the Papua New Guinea educational system. Furthermore, it does so within an international context. It is narrow in that the focus is one of community school teacher education. Such a work is timely in view of the recent wide ranging changes in teacher education in Papua New Guinea. While change is both inevitable and to be welcomed - it should not proceed uncritically.

This book is offered to those who wish for the continual improvement of the Papua New Guinea education system and who see community school teacher education as vital to that process. It questions many of the assumptions on which change has taken place in the past and on which many recent changes are proceeding. In this way, it is hoped that it will contribute to the development of professional educators; those who are not driven in their improvement efforts by dogmatism, but rather can justify their beliefs and actions on rational research and intellectual grounds. Accordingly, while it will be of particular interest to teacher educators, it should also be of interest to other educationalists, teachers at all levels, policy makers, overseas donor agencies and student teachers.

The book is organised into nine chapters. The first two chapters set the Papua New Guinea context. Chapter One is an exposition of traditional education while Chapter Two outlines the history of formal teacher education in the country. Chapter Three then goes on to provide a critique of contemporary community school teacher education policy. After this specific treatment, the broader context is explored in Chapter Four through an illumination of teacher education issues in the South Pacific islands. This sets the scene for the next four chapters. Chapter Five is a critique of current proposals for restructuring community school education and alerts the reader to some implications for education. Chapters Six and Eight focus on the importance of expatriates working in teacher education in the country taking cognisance of contextual realities while Chapter Seven is a detailed examination of the controversial 'Basic Skills' saga. Finally Chapter Nine provides a summary of research which sought understanding of how Papua New Guinea teacher educators and in-service teachers negotiate their western higher education at the University of Papua New Guinea. The hope is that this may assist educators to provide an educational experience that addresses student learning needs with appropriate process and content.

Finally the authors would like to indicate that the perspectives outlined in the book reflect their own academic training and interests. They recognise that there are other perspectives. In particular, they suspect that useful insights could be provided by those adopting post-structuralist, post-modernist, feminist and critical positions. What the book offers are `tools for thinking' rather than dogmatic stances. Hopefully, they will stimulate thought, help to promote research and contribute to the development of sound policy for community school teacher education in Papua New Guinea for the future.


Any attempt to provide some understanding of teacher education in Papua New Guinea should include an appreciation of the traditional philosophy and strategies used to educate Papua New Guineans for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans and their education system.

Traditional education reflected as well as promoted cultural beliefs and customs that once underpinned, and to some extent still underpins, Papua New Guinea society. Its aim was to honour and sustain the Melanesian Way. Clearly it was successful since until recently traditional village life provided purpose and means for survival and identity for Papua New Guineans. This cannot be said of modern education.

The purpose of such a review is not to generate any nostalgic yearnings for an idyllic past. Rather, it hopes to provide an appreciation of how Papua New Guineans understood their own context and generated an appropriate education to respond to it. Such an appreciation would seem to be essential for Papua New Guinea teacher educators. This is to amplify Burke's (1994) assertion that it is important for lecturers to "research their own traditional ways of knowing, not to romanticise their culture and past, but to protect against 'intellectual colonisation'.. Thus Papua New Guinean lecturers can deal critically with the present realities of teachers' colleges in order to improve them" (Burke, 1994).



For a variety of reasons (Philp & Kelly, 1974, p.275) Papua New Guinea (PNG) has opted in practice (Tololo, 1975, p.5; Smith,G. 1975, pp.42-55), and continues to do so, for essentially a western-type education system (Matane, 1986, pp.22-27), though its relevancy (Chatterton, 1973; Naur, 1986; Sukwianomb, 1986) and its efficiency have been questioned (Kenehe, 1981). The education direction is accepted as a fact, and it is acknowledged that this general direction seems very likely to remain (Department of Education, 1991), though some official misgivings have been articulated, albeit obliquely:

Traditional education was integrated with the community and taught children to see the world through the eyes of the community. Through whose eyes do our children see the world now? (Matane, 1986, p.8).

Students entering tertiary institutions in Papua New Guinea in the main, are inducted into a milieu consonant with the goals and structures of higher education of western countries (Lynch, 1980), a process which in many respects is very much alien to the cultural experiences of most students (Shea, 1976, p.18). This clash of perspectives may precipitate sets of varied and complex problems, thus hindering personal and professional growth among students (Cox, 1985).

Academics, both national and expatriate, are more "at home" with the values, structures and customs of tertiary education, given the extent of their own varied educational experiences. They say they espouse the intellectual standards and the pursuit of academic excellence that western universities often proclaim in order to maintain international recognition (Piper, 1984, p.7). Consequently they may exhibit behaviours that may lie somewhere along a continuum. One pole has been described by Paolo Freire as "banking education", when he participated at the Eighth Waigani Seminar on Education in Melanesia. The education process is simply "to make the entries in the empty heads of the educatees" (Freire, 1975, p.246). Accordingly, while academics in PNG may recognise the varied cultural and intellectual differences among the students of the various provinces, they may be unable to reconcile this diversity, so that their teaching may fail to recognise a Melanesian perspective on education. Hawes has noted the same phenomenon in other developing countries:

So frequently in my recent journeys in Africa have I encountered committed men and women displaying great skill into inducting teachers into techniques of presenting relatively unimportant content (Hawes,1979a).

For some expatriates, it may be a real challenge to their personal integrity to attempt to see life in terms broader than their personal experience. To do so is something akin to academic culture shock. Jordan (1987, p.5), maintained that a personal and painful dissonance may accompany any attempt to share in some depth, another's perspective, which is so culturally different.

The opposite pole to that of Freire, to which Jordan implicitly alludes, is best described as "involvement" (Jones, 1974, p.1), and this presupposes that knowledge is not to be viewed in only a transmission context but "has to be made and remade by (the learner's) action and reflection on reality" (Freire, 1975, p.246). Such a perspective accepts that the learner has a set of cultural and learning experiences that flavour and interpret reflection on new knowledge. Lawrence (1959, pp.52-53) acknowledged this reality, a generation ago in an address he gave to neophyte Australian teachers bound for the "Territory" of Papua New Guinea:

...in bringing a program of Western education to any under developed country we are not educating in a vacuum. In every native society there are already in existence both an epistemological system and some means of transmitting it from one generation to the next...they are systems, which are fully integrated with the total way of life of the people. It is this that gives them their inherent logic and consistency, so that they cannot be regarded...as a mere rag-bag of uncorrected information and beliefs...The failure to recognise these facts...is especially dangerous. It has undermined education schemes in the past...I refer to the common attitude of the recruit to the mission field and the teaching profession, that the grateful native will be as clay in his hands. What he has to learn...is the clay is not as pliable as he thinks. Not only is it already shaped but fired and glazed as well.

This, then, is the rationale for this investigation of traditional learning and teaching among Papua New Guineans.

Tertiary students have all experienced western schooling but since most students have spent their childhood in the village (Weeks, 1977, p.29) they also have varied sets of experiences that reflect a traditional Melanesian epistemology.

Each village also had its own education system. The subject matter was life and how to live it. It was a perfect system of education. The teachers were expert and the pass rate was high. There were very few dropouts. Our teachers could explain to their pupils. They know the names for everything. They knew the name of every tree and plant. They could explain every natural phenomenon. They knew the myths and legends and taboos. It as a perfect system of education for a static society (Olewale, 1971, p.220).

It would seem then reasonable to attempt to understand that "other" education system, in which many students for a greater or lesser degree also have been "schooled".


The major difficulty in attempting to describe traditional educational practices in Papua New Guinea is "that there is no culture which is common to the whole of PNG - there are many similarities among different groups, it is true, but there are also a lot of differences" (Jones, 1974, p.4). This observation, which has consistently been confirmed by anthropological studies (Chowning, 1972, pp.156-164), forms the basis for difficulties in generalising about traditional education practice, though they can be identified, albeit judiciously:

The principal factors which affect a child's environment are its sex upbringing; the rank and status of its parents; the domestic setting, as for example whether it lives in polygamous or monogamous household, and whether the individual family of which it is a member is large or small...the marriage may be patrilocal or matrilocal or neither, divorce or death of a parent, legitimacy, and the very common custom of adoption may also mould profoundly the conditions under which a child grows up (Wedgewood, 1938, p.3).

Coyne (1974, pp.1-2), in a study of traditional educational practices in PNG, warned the reader about the scarcity and unrepresentativeness of data from anthropological studies which, in general, had peripheral foci on the educational aspects of the society under observation. Much of the fullest data are from studies completed in the East Sepik, the New Guinea Islands region (Chowning, 1972, p.156), Madang (Lawrence, 1959) and Morobe (Read, 1958), while evidence from the highlands often reveals another perspective. Yet again, Lawrence (1959, p.58) cautiously warns: "In the Goroka and Hagen areas (highlands) for instance, empirical knowledge, appears to be highly valued in itself and maybe conceptualised as derived largely from the human intellect", which clearly is not the case elsewhere in Papua New Guinea.

Transmission of Knowledge

The aim of education of preliterate societies was to faithfully transmit an accepted and shared way of life, in the form of knowledge from one generation to the next (Tylor, 1871, p.1). Knowledge in traditional Melanesia was perceived to be a finite body of information, indeed a commodity or "cargo" which could be purchased through mere participation (Tololo, 1976, pp.220-221); "A common observation of Pacific students is that many go to school or university for knowledge as they go to trade stores for tinned fish" (Lindstrom, 1990).

Traditional knowledge may be categorised, in the contemporary western perspective, in terms of technical or general knowledge, in contrast with revealed, sacred or secret knowledge (Lawrence, 1959, pp.52-55; McLaren, 1974, p.361; Young, 1977, p.26). Papua New Guineans [and the pre-seventeenth century Europeans (Lawrence, 1975, pp.339-345)] never did engage in such categorisation, since knowledge though complex, had a unity and interrelationship about it, because all of it had its origins with the gods and ancestors:

However, allowing for location variations, generally speaking the natives do not seem to apply our rigorous principles of categorisation. They do not bother to make a firm distinction between the two branches. They tend to confuse them and treat each as part of a single complex (Lawrence, 1964, p.30).

Prince (1969, pp.94-104), in a study of science concepts among PNG students, related that Papua New Guineans acknowledged their belief that technical skills and revealed truths had a common origin. As a consequence, there appeared to be no evidence of dualistic thinking in scientific and supernatural explanations in PNG, which is not the case among other peoples in developing countries. An example of this is the high school student who acquires a model of science, which is an extension of this unified epistemological traditional model "rather than one which incorporates ideas like the 'ladder of abstraction' linking general laws to specific instances" (Young, 1977, p.21). Consequently, scientific reasoning may be accorded the same causal and logical models as magic and mythology (Donohoe, 1974) since "they believe it exists, certainly, if not only, because it was revealed to men by their deities" (Lawrence, 1959, p.55).

Technical Knowledge Survival, often in a hostile environment, necessitated that traditional societies develop a sedimentary but sound body of technical knowledge, which was utilised with varying degrees of efficiency (Lomax & Arensberg, 1977). The coastal people around Madang developed a wooden slit drum (garamut) into an instrument for conveying elaborate messages accurately, over distances of one hundred and forty kilometres, thus revealing both their technical proficiency with instrumentation, and relative cognitive sophistication in symbolic communica-tion. On Ponam Island in the Manus Province, large sea-going canoes were constructed from compara-tively simple hand tools. This displayed technical dexterity. Children exhibited perceptiveness in working "various sections of the reef with different tools and techniques" (Lancy, 1983, p.121). In the Highlands hectares of land were cultivated using elaborate horticultural techniques (Foley,1986, p.16):

The people can tell you the best part of a hillside on which to plant taro and sugar-cane respectively, phrasing their answers in emphatical terms. Taro does best if planted near the top of the hill, because it will not grow in sodden ground. While sugar-cane thrives on plenty of water and should therefore, be planted lower (Lawrence, 1959, p.54).

Children were alerted to "what is edible, such as frogs, tadpoles, mushrooms, leaves and berries", as well as recognising and naming different species of local fauna and flora (Cheethan, 1980, p.63). Clearly, traditional villagers often displayed remarkable efficiency in their use of technical empirical knowledge, and that knowledge would seem to have been amassed over hundreds of years although trial and error learning, common experience and experiment. This technical knowledge in the eyes of a westerner, was acquired "entirely as the result of human endeavour" (Lawrence, 1959, p.55). This was not the case from the point of view of many traditional Papua New Guineans. This practical knowledge originated from the ancestors and the deities and it was they who revealed it to humans (Young, 1977). Lawrence elaborates further on this belief:

...Generally speaking, these myths explain how the deities invented and created artifacts, domesticated animals and food plants to make human life more comfort-able. Thus one deity is believed to have invented the slit gong; another canoes; another hand-drums; another pigs; another taro; another yams; and so on. After each act of invention and creation, the relevant deity appeared to human beings in the course of a dream or similar experience and give them all the information necessary for the manufacture, breeding or cultivation of the artifacts, animal or food plant for which he or she was responsible (Lawrence, 1959, p.55).

Revealed Knowledge

A distinction was made between revealed or "true" knowledge and the technical or everyday knowledge, with true knowledge being esoteric and secret and available only to the select initiated, which did not include women or children (Young, 1977). This knowledge was bestowed upon the initiate by direct revelation from the gods or by instruction by others, who were already "in the know" (Lawrence, 1959). It involved the processes and secrets, which permitted one to relate successfully with the gods and incorporated magical rites, mythological folklore, taboos, spells and the means for living in harmony with the dictates of the deities (Lawrence, 1972):

This special knowledge typically involves dealings with the dynamic forces of life, particularly fertility, that is, the productivity of the ground, the plants that grow in it and the animals and men which live by them... This knowledge is held in the form of special names of powerful deities, magical rites and spells or special rapport with spiritual beings. Such knowledge is considered the most potent of man's cultural possessions and is not allowed to fall in the hands of anyone who might not regard it seriously. It is shared therefore only with those who have gained full social maturity (McLaren, 1974, p.361).

Because this knowledge had it sources with the gods, a number of deductions can be made describing it. Firstly, unlike western knowledge which is meant to be challenged, Melanesian knowledge was finite and not tested. Its divine source guaranteed its veracity. Moreover, it explained adequately enough the important forces in the world, to further legitimate its orthodoxy. In addition, it dictated a set of moral imperatives, that guided behaviour and maintained the spiritual strength of the community (Young, 1977, p.26).


Relevant and Pragmatic

All knowledge then could be viewed as essentially pragmatic, though the application and relevancy of everyday or technical knowledge was all the more evident:

Traditional knowledge is mainly thought of in terms of behaviour. It is, above all, knowledge of how to do things, especially things of day to day living such as gardening, building houses, fishing, hunting, handicraft, getting along with kinfolk, etc. What comes through here is a recurrent theme, namely the perception of traditional knowledge as being eminently suitable for practical purposes and uses (Young and Bartos, 1977, p.12).

Mythologies displayed a complete lack of interest in philosophical or scientific issues but focused almost entirely upon success in maintaining a profitable livelihood: "Nearly all sources report a lack of concern with the origins of the universe in general or the earth as such" (Berndt, 1972, p.824).


Because of its practicality and immediate relevancy traditional knowledge provided quite a deal of positive psychological reinforcement, correlated with obvious intrinsic motivation. In a study of Papua New Guineans, who had experienced schooling as well as a village education, Young and Bartos (1977, p.13) noted: "traditional knowledge provides satisfaction in learning, makes one confident, and is less threatening". This was not what they experienced from Western schooling.


The mode of transmission of this relevant knowledge was relatively efficient. Learning was clearly associated with immediate practicality, appropriate to the individual's needs and related to local circumstances:

Regardless of age, however, similar kinds of things are usually taught. At the earliest age, the child must know which objects, areas and people are dangerous; whom he can trust; and whose food is safe to eat. He must learn to cope with his environment and handle simple tools, weapons, and fire. He should know the properties of common plants and animals and be able to collect and prepare such foodstuffs as shellfish. He must be instructed to observe taboos. Knowledge of the spirit world is likely to be hazy; the parents are only concerned with protecting the child from supernatural dangers and with preserving the mysteries from non-initiates. Admission to full knowledge comes only with adulthood (Chowning, 1972, p.160)

Adult Oriented

Though technical knowledge was generally available to all at the appropriate time, (Smith, G. 1975) revealed or true knowledge could only be transmitted when one was mature and responsible enough to accept and appreciate it, namely when one had reached adulthood (McLaren, 1974):

As a child, one was taught a few simple spells to, for example, keep away rain, lure octopus, or attract a girl temporarily; now [in late adolescence] he is admitted to the repertoire of gardening and hunting, magic, serious love magic, the spells to protect property and cure disease. Before he is ready to marry, the principal secrets of the men's house, if any, are revealed to him. Nevertheless, in many groups, learning still continues well into adulthood. Only long after marriage does a man become a specialist at carving or curing; only in his forties perhaps admitted to the inner rites of a secret society; only when about to become a father himself taught the spells to ensure the growth of his children and only when his father is about to die instructed in the last special knowledge. In many societies, fully grown and married men often announce `I am but a child' in recognition of the fact that acquisition of knowledge and gradual assumption of responsibility is a gradual process and that full maturity may come only with middle age (Chowning, 1972, pp.163-164).

Thus the transfer of knowledge was deliberately regulated throughout life and imparted when it seemed that the learner might best use it.

Village Centred

The imparting of traditional knowledge was centred upon the place of its immediate application, namely the village. For it was the village that provided a unique environment. This environment with its variety of stimuli necessary for healthy child development was identified by Hogbin in a village near Lae. It could well apply to much anywhere in Papua New Guinea:

Busma must be one of the most delightful spots for growing up. There is a shelving beach with clear white sand, smooth seas and many streams for swimming; waterfalls under which to sit for a shower bath, a dense forest for hide and seek and sandhills for rolling and sliding (Hogbin, 1951).

In contrast to western schooling, the village was an informal context, where children and adults intermingled freely most of the time. People learnt individually and informally as things happened, by observation and imitation of parents and elders: "Their learning depends much more on an innate desire to imitate adults rather than a planned inculcation by parents" (McLaren, 1974, p.361). The process is informal and when more direct strategies are adopted they are brief, since the doing is considered all important, while teaching is a peripheral process. Though some commentary might accompany the activity, the emphasis centred on the activity. Verbal interaction was not encouraged (Young and Bartos, 1977, p.121). As the Melanesian philosopher Bernard Narokobi (1980, p.66) asserts, it is in the "speech of silence" that Papua New Guineans appreciate that "words gave deep meaning because they come from deep silence". Such a phenomenon may be too easily misinterpret-ed by contemporary educators as a "lack of response" and student disinclination for a participation in learning (Henry, 1979). Nevertheless, such uncritical acceptance of traditional knowledge and procedure is at odds with the values which western education espouses, where children supposedly are encouraged to think independently, not to accept unquestioningly the beliefs of others, and to be open to, and to initiate change (Metraux, 1964, p.127).

Traditional Knowledge and Western Knowledge The conceptual framework for Melanesian knowledge processes is inspirational, revelatio-nary and transmissional, while western knowledge is characterised by inquiry, reflectivity and creativity. Individual intelligence and perceptiveness are acknowl-edged as important factors influencing learning. In contrast, in inspirational systems intelligence has no equivalent concept, as Carrier noted when commenting on the Ponam Islanders: "Ponams do not invoke notions like 'intelligence' or 'a capacity to learn'. They have no word for intelligence" (Carrier, 1984, p.61). For the Melanesian the important thing was to possess knowledge. In practice this meant:

to know where to find the right sources; to have good contacts. In inspirational systems, people explain successful learning in terms of hardwork and struggle, not in individual intelligence or how smart one is (Lindstrom, 1990).

Consequently, "new" knowledge was received through initiation, dreams, purchase or through various ritualistic devices, (McSwain, 1977; Wong and Swan, 1984). It was not self generated, nor was it critically assessed.


A major purpose of traditional knowledge has been to pass on to the population the "know how" of getting things done in order to survive. In addition, an even more dynamic purpose was to preserve traditional culture, for essentially the future was basically seen as a reproduction of the immediate past (McLaren, 1974 p.350). The rationale for such a perspective is logical. Traditional ways of living were given to man by the gods. They were perfect in themselves and did not require further enhancement or adaptation. The ideal had been achieved (Hogbin, 1946, p.283), and with it, an obligation to pass it on faithfully from one generation to the next. Hence, there was no obvious sense of change in society, though it did occur, "if it was considered worthwhile" (McLaren, 1974, p.350). It was slow change over many generations which made its detection unobservable to most villagers (Coyne, 1974, p.5):

...the body of knowledge, as the people see it, is static and finite, as the cosmic order within which it is contained. It was brought into the world ready made and ready to use. It can be augmented only by further acts of invention and revelation by old or new creative spirit beings, who inhabit the natural environment. Hence, it is hardly surprising that the epistemological system has taken this form. The religion is intellectually satisfying, for it operates within a framework that guarantees its validity. Because of the monotonous repetition of economic and social life, there is hardly any event which cannot be explained by or attributed to it. The whole visible world, the annually ripening crops, the fertility of pigs and human beings, and even death as the apparent result of sorcery - far from allowing it an aura of mysticism, proclaims that it is solidly based on empirical and verifiable fact. There is no need in fact, no room - for an independent secular human intellect (Lawrence, 1972, p.1011).

Physical Development

Most tribal peoples placed great importance on proficiency in the physical skills of "tool making, gardening, fishing, hunting, food gathering" (Isoaimo, 1974, p.105) and aggressive skills that would be useful in times of war. Mead (1930, p.42) stressed that Manus people valued highly the physical skills of swimming, climbing, fishing and sailing, not only for their immediate practical relevance, but also because they promoted personal self confidence and reliance which usually made one more fearless and resourceful, virtues that also were helpful in war. Cheetham (1980, pp.63-64) described the situation where the Huli boys while they were in the men's house, were encouraged to be self sufficient and independent as good hunters:

While amusing themselves, the children acquire physical skills and manual dexterity, and may exercise their imaginations and develop social awareness. They are bound to learn standards of interpersonal behaviour - perhaps the strong can bully the weak, perhaps that co-operation is necessary if the games and enterprises are to be successful and enjoyable (Chowning, 1972, p.162).

It was because of the recognition of the need to balance these aggressive tendencies with a co-operative attitude that great stress was placed on self control. An example is appropriate. A man of wealth won great respect and prestige particularly when he maintained it, usually by warfare. Those qualities which were perceived to lead to this wealth were aggressiveness, courage and fighting ability. Such behaviours, if emulated by young admirers in a random way, might easily promote hostilities among clan members. This was strictly forbidden, for survival of the clan in an unfriendly environment demanded internal unity and harmony. Children were encouraged to express their aggressiveness through temper tantrums, swearing or taking out their rage on a tree with an axe (Hogbin, 1951):

The aim of traditional societies was generally self control of the emotions in the sense of making sure that one's expression of one's emotions did not harm anyone else (Coyne, 1974, p.11).

Associated with the attainment of physical skills was the virtue of industriousness. Though children often learnt much in a casual and unplanned way, through observation and imitation, much encouragement was given to the conscientious attainment of skills that might assist in adult living (Oliver, 1953, p.193):

Girls, for example, learn to gather and prepare food and do much of the housework at home during these years, and boys to engage in such activities as fishing, handling a canoe and hunting. In the early years, play and work may be inseparable (Kemelfield, 1980, p.96).

Cognitive Development

At first perusal the development of cognitive skills may seem "limited to the develop-ment of a few basic personality ideals and some basic concepts of causality in the physical world" (Coyne, 1974, p.5), though even the latter were not overly developed, as their ultimate divine origin was sufficient to quench further curiosity. However, cognitive skills developed in subtle ways. There seems to have been a direct relationships between the complexity of technical knowledge and cognitive growth. White (1959, p.19) suggested that "the technological factor determines, in a general way at least, the form and content of the social, philosophic and sentimental sectors". The more complex the activities of a society, the more sophisticated is that society. This, in turn, is a manifestation of increased cognitive complexity, possibly because the manipulation of a wide range of differing tools may have a direct impact on cognition (Brainerd, 1978). Sutterthwaite (1980, p.314), in commenting upon Australian Aboriginal societies, maintained that "more complex technologies [are] generally associated with more involved social arrangements for their use". In the Papua New Guinea context, the various technologies may have affected cognitive complexity among the differing groups:

...from an evolutionary perspective, Yesner (1980) argues persuasively that maritime hunting and gathering (e.g., Ponam and Mandok) as a way of life is unstable and will change continuously in the direction of greater complexity (L-ancy, 1983, p.122).

Moral Development


The rationale for much of the moral behaviour in traditional Papua New Guinea society depended upon the overall welfare of the community (Mantovani, 1986, p.7). Great stress placed on getting along with others. Virtues such as truthfulness, honesty and respect for property were encouraged, but generally the motivation evolved from a self interest perspective, rather than in a value for the virtues in themselves. There were exceptions. The Malaita in the Solomon Islands, for example, seem to have developed the abstract ideal. Hogbin (1951) illustrates this by documenting the distinction in moral training between the Wogeo children in the East Sepik and the Malaita:

In moral training (among the Wogeo) the practical issues are stressed, and the elders quote the maxim that friends are more helpful than enemies if behaviour seems likely to give offence. Any ethical reasons for exercising restraint are ignored and the fact that honesty is the best policy is the most cogent argument by far in its favour. Thus the stock admonition if children begin meddling with other people's belongings is simply, "that's his; he'll be cross if you break it; better not touch it"... [On Malaita] parents consciously strive to inculcate feelings of personal responsibility. A child who interferes with someone else's property is told not: "that's his; he'll be cross if you break it", but "that isn't yours; put it down", and one who has made fun of companions after a rebuke has the enormity of his offence brought home to him by some such remark as he ought to go and hide his head for having said such things. It is not an accident that in Malaita there is a word closely corresponding with our term "conscience" a concept conspicu-ously absent from the Wogeo tongue...,


Papua New Guinea's unique version of social security, "the wantok" system, has its roots in traditional obligations to be hospitable to one's kin, particularly in the generous provision of food and shelter (Berndt, 1962, p.100). The motivation appears to have had its basis in a very necessary self interest community context rather than altruism: "Generosity built up obligations on the part of the recipient, and these obligations could be called upon in times of need" (Coyne, 1974, p.6).


In most traditional PNG societies, obedience to authority was "an esteemed trait" (Chowning, 1972, p.161), though the degree of its application varied greatly. The Peri children seemed to have been able to do anything they wished without chastisement (Mead, 1930, p.43), while the Engans, who had very strict notions on obedience, inflicted severe punishments on those who deviated from parental commands (Bauer, 1962, p.6). In most traditional societies discipline was introduced in the context of initiation ceremonies (Townsend, 1985, p.53). Obedience, then, was elicited mainly through probing, coaxing and scolding. Children seemed more concerned to avoid censure than to acquire rewards (Kemelfield, 1980, p.94). Yet again, self interest became the prime rationale for obedience: "Good behaviour is induced by accounts of the probable retaliation of those offended, who may withdraw support and aid, refuse to the child as an affine, or actually attack him with physical weapons or sorcery" (Chowning, 1972, p.161). Malinowski (1932, p.45) noted that most techniques to induce obedience in children were identical to those for adults. In other words, parents were "generally treating the children as their own equals" (Coyne, 1974, p.8).


Traditional education in PNG may be viewed from two perspectives, formal and informal (Townsend, 1985, pp.103-112). Greater emphasis was placed on informal education, particularly in childhood. There was an absence of formal processes during these years:

By the time they reach the age of adolescence without any formal education comparable to our own for boys of the same age, they have mastered all the empirical knowledge regarded as essential for survival in their society, in the fields of gardening, house building, the preparation and cooking of food, hunting and fishing...a native boy can always see the direct significance of what he is doing. As suggested, his activities are always relevant to his survival, and the socialisat-ion process is not in advance of the stage of social maturity he has reached. He can apply directly what he learns (Lawrence,1959, p.57).

Implicit in this description was that traditional informal education was context oriented (Bruner, 1966), with the learner's own intrinsic motivation being responsible for the initiation and maintenance of education. Mead (1943, p.634) has noted that the Arapesh and Iatal of West Sepik were learning, not teaching societies, since they focused on the child as learner, "as the one who needed and desired to learn certain skills to function as a competent member of society" (Stringer, 1984, p.5). Mead has observed that the emphasis centred on the self-initiated learning of a universally agreed-upon informal curriculum (Mead, 1943, p.634):

Miscarriage (in the transmission of knowledge and skills) did occur but not sufficient to focus the attention of the group upon the desirability of teaching over against the desirability of learning.

It is appropriate to attempt to describe some of the characteristics of traditional informal education.


Learning by Observation and Imitation

The literature consistently describes observation and imitation as a principle of traditional learning. Children have been exposed to, and have participated, in adult imitation models since infancy. Mead (1930, p.34) documented the deliberate use of playful repetition by parents and the encouragement of imitation in the child's learning to talk. "Adults play games of imitative gesture until the child develops a habit of imitation, which seems at first glance to be practically compulsive" (Mead, 1930, p.35). The technical aspects of hunting, fishing, canoeing, agriculture and butchery were learnt through observation, in a casual and unplanned way (Isoaimo, 1974), and generally in the context of play. The rationale for this procedure was the belief that children were incapable of real education, and hence a formal process would be meaningless. As McLaren, 1974, p.362) explains:

No attempt is made to give the child any kind of formal instruction, as far as I am aware. People explain that it is pointless tying to teach small children, because they are mini nawi, which means literally "without sense". This is a key concept when the Huli themselves discuss socialisation and education.

Learning by Personal Trial and Error

Since an official apprenticeship program was seen as inappropriate, proficiency and efficiency were gained through a trial and error process. Mead (1930, p.28) has documented what happens when Manus children learn to swim:

Swimming is not taught; the small wader imitates their slightly older brothers and sisters and after floundering about in waist-deep water begin to strike out for themselves.

A similar process was observed by Lawrence among the children of Madang:

It is not uncommon to see them pick up axes or bush knives and imitate the adults in the work they are doing. They are never discouraged...gradually as they grow older, they become adept in the use of tools and in the basic technical skills necessary for survival (Lawrence, 1959, p.57).

This does not preclude the accompaniment of the learning process by some verbal instruction though "what interaction takes place is by spoken word alone, in the local language and there is no initiation toward discussion; young people must obey elders" (Young and Bartos, 1977, p.12). Verbal activity plays very much a supplementary role, while learning by doing is of primary importance. Verbal interaction may stimulate children to initiate further private trial and error learning:

It is difficult to describe the exact process by which children learn these things. It seems that mothers often talk to their small children while they are doing their work, and in this way children learn important information. Also mothers designate certain things as belonging to the child and say something like "This is your pig"; "this is your fish" etc., and this no doubt stimulates the child's interest in learning about these things (Cheetham, 1980, pp.63-63).

Learning in Real Life Activities

Learning occurred in the context of the activity itself, and it is not considered to be a practice in a contrived setting. In assisting the child's acquisition of language, parents in the repeating of words, are not only providing stimuli and models for the child, but are enjoying personal pleasure from it. The activity is not a monotonous, boring task to be endured for the sake of child rearing:

This random affection for repetition makes an excellent atmosphere in which the child acquires facility in speech. There is no adult boredom with the few faulty words of babyhood. Instead these very groping words form an excellent excuse for indulging their own passion for repetition...I have counted sixty repetitions of the same monosyllabic word either a true word or a nonsense syllable. At the end of the sixtieth repetition, neither baby nor adult was bored (Mead, 1930, p.35).

This acquisition of important learning often incorporated a play context as was the case of Fore children (Sorenson, 1971, p.200). These activities should not be interpreted as purposeful practice for increased proficiency, but must be viewed as ends in themselves, since much pleasure was derived from them: "It fits in so well with the game of repetition for repetition's sake, neither teacher nor pupil tires easily..." (Mead, 1930, p.37).

Absence of the Institutionalised Office of Teacher.

The absence of an institutionalised teacher in informal education was evident. This does not mean that a didactic approach was never used. It occurred but it was rarely planned. Technical skills were often accompanied by a commentary, though preeminence was always placed on the process itself. The person demonstrating as a "teacher" was of secondary importance to the actual activity itself:

Such teaching is always the primary responsibility of the parent of the same sex, though an expert at such specialties as canoe manufacture or weather control may teach a nephew or more remote relative, especially if he has no son of his own or is paid for the job. Much is learned by a child's simply trailing along, partly for amusement's sake, observing, and trying tasks for himself. Detailed instruction is sometimes given, however, with the adult demonstrating, explaining, and guiding the child's hands. Children are usually encouraged to help with small tasks even when they may actually be a hindrance, on the assumption that they will only learn by doing (Chowning, 1972, pp.161-162).

The Huli developed a deliberate policy of "vertical grouping" education, preferring boys of different ages being together, while discouraging excessive mixing of boys of the same age, the rationale being that the younger will learn from the older children (Cheetham, 1980, p.63). Indeed, Mead documents that peer teaching was a common process in the learning of Tok Pisin: "Young men who have been away to work for the whiteman return to the villages and teach the younger boys who in turn teach the very small boys" (Mead, 1930, p.37).


Having noted that the concept of "teacher" had broad connotations , it is appropriate to explore some of the methodologies employed by their many mentors. In his observation of the Kwoma of the East Sepik, Whiting (1941, p.177) noted three major teaching techniques: motivation, guidance, reward. Such processes appear to be fairly representative of most other groupings in the country.


Motivation included external stimuli such as scolding, threatening, warning, encouraging, bribing and punishing, with the latter generally invoked as a last resort, when parents had been overcome by bad temper through frustration:

Every gain, every ambitious attempt is applauded; too ambitious attempts are gently pushed out of the picture; small errors are simply ignored, but important ones are punished. So a child who after having learned to walk, slips and bumps his head, is not gathered up in kind, compassionate arms while mother kisses his tears away, thus establishing a fatal connection between physical disaster and extra cuddling. Instead the little stumbler is berated for his clumsiness, and, if he had been very stupid, slapped soundly into the bargain. Or if his misstep had occurred in a canoe or on the verandah, the exasperated and disgusted adult may simply dump him contemptuously into the water to meditate on his ineptness (Mead, 1930, p.30).

Traditional societies tended to lump scolding, threatening and encouraging together for all but the most minor offences (Oliver, 1953, p.192). Unlike Western societies there seemed to be no graduation of motivation. One of the most effective motivations in the form of threat centred upon self interest. If children did not behave correctly to their relatives, they would breach relationship with them. This would deprive them of sources of aid, in time of need (Whiting, 1941, p.60).


Skills were transmitted through leading, instructing and demonstrating under the guidance of a mentor. Toilet training was gradually accomplished "after a period of instruction and explanation, (though) the child may be scolded or slapped if he has an accident or misbehaves in front of a visitor" (Chowning, 1972, p.159). The skills of singing, dancing, drumming and weaving were transmitted in a similar way (Mead, 1930, pp.30-1). Foremost in such a process was the demand that the learner be an observer who demonstrates interest and motivation: "The surest way to learn something on Ponam Island is by direct sensory evidence - to see, taste or feel...though...one has to be interested in what is said and attend to it" (Carrier, 1984, pp.74-5). The aim was to gradually and carefully introduce the child into the adult world, initially as spectator, a process which should stimulate in the child the desire to be a participant (Gitlow, 1974, p.49):

Apart from food cultivation and hunting, the young boy also learns from the men how to open up new gardens, how to build a house. He also sits with men during a pig kill and mumu, and watches as they butcher and share out the pigmeat. They could also help him to recognise social relationships and social obligations, since pigmeat is shared according to those principles (Cheetham, 1980, p.64).


An account of this technique needs some amplification. Chowning (1972, p.161) has commented that children seemed more anxious to avoid censure than to accumulate rewards. The concept has its basis in reciprocity. Rewards are bestowed in return for a service, as is the case with the adolescent Huli who, having performed such tasks as collecting firewood, fetching water or tobacco, receive food from the elders. This is not seen simply as a reward, but has its basis in self sufficiency and fair exchange (Cheetham, 1979, p.89). Mentors helped their "disciples" after their "disciples" had helped them, but the aim was, ironically, to promote self sufficiency and independence, not cultic devotion. Mead described this principle in action, when she recorded how Manus toddlers learn to punt their canoes:

But that his small child may feel important and adequate to deal with exacting water life, the father retires to the central platform and the infant pilot mans the canoe. And here again, there are no harsh words, only a complete lack of interest. But the first deft stroke which guides the canoe back to its course is greeted with approval. The test of this training is the results. Manus children are perfectly at home in the water (Mead, 1930, p.30).

As well as reward, the withholding of praise or refraining from direct assistance are techniques aimed at stimulating motivation to goal attainment. "They are never discouraged and often complimented" (Lawrence, 1972, p.1010). Edoni, in describing traditional Melanesian values, noted that egalitarianism was strictly insisted on, acknowledging that "no individual person is more important than the other" (Edoni, 1986, p.37). This value was also reflected in the fact that traditional societies did not encourage competition among individuals, praise individual superiority, single out talented children as models for others to emulate, or insist that there was to be a notional standard of competency to be attained at a certain time, in order to be classified as proficient:

clumsiness, physical uncertainty, and lack of poise, is unknown among adults. They have no word for clumsiness. The child of lesser proficiency is simply described as 'not understanding yet'. That he should not understand the art of handling his body, his canoes well, very presently, is unthinkable (Mead, 1930, p.31).

All actions were to be judged in the context of their own merits and not in relationship to the behaviour of others (Hogbin, 1963, p.83).

Myths and Tales

"Myths and stories are another teaching method used in the village" (Townsend, 1985, p.85), with the main exception being the Titans of Manus Island, who devalued their importance for any pragmatic purpose with the result that "it never occurs to tell them to children" (Mead, 1930, p.85). Myths were a method of educating the whole tribe from cradle to grave for their contents included history, religion, entertainment, morality, social obligations, science, theology, fairy tale, law, and psychology (Berndt, 1972, pp.822-27). They assisted in resolving family, land and marriage disputes, and in promoting a sense of personal and collective identity, and provided a matrix of beliefs that guided individuals throughout their earthly existence to a contented sojourn in the world of the ancestors (Lawrence, 1972, p.1011). Parents, peers, and respected elders were often the transmitters of myths and stories, while the graphic narrator was especially esteemed. The ardent listeners learnt history, basic etiquette, customs and taboos as well as the retribution that befalls the violators of society's laws (Chowning, 1972, p.162).

Repetition If something is judged to be a necessary acquisition such as languages (Mead, 1930, pp.35-37) or songs or myths (Lawrence, 1959, p.58), the learning process adopted is the use of repetition. Learning of songs was accomplished by mimicking and the gradual accumulating of more matter from the mentor. If a direct didactic intervention was needed, then "the whole section or story to be learnt is first told to the learners, then short portions are gradually added to the initial phrases with much repetition, until the whole is mastered" (Stringer, 1982, p.103). At times the repetition occurred while lacking a meaningful context. Children learned stories or languages by constant verbal repetition but appear not to have been aware they learnt anything. This process has also been described by Harris (1980, p.83) in commenting upon the learning of songs by the Milingimbi Aboriginal Community in Australia. Informal traditional education stressed the acquisition of technical knowledge and skills in their practical everyday context, utilising intrinsic motivation, since the activities undertaken were seen as clearly related to survival. However, achievement of high degrees of proficiency and efficiency in these technical skills among children, particularly boys at this age was not regarded as significantly important. They still had to be initiated into the realm of "true knowledge", which only occurred during and after adolescence (Lawrence, 1972, p.1010).


Formal traditional education was a very elaborate and varied experience among the societies of Melanesia. Initiations have been of interest to many anthropologists (Herdt, 1982), though their impact upon contemporary village society seems to have diminished. Mission and government contact influenced the decline of aspects of this education process in many areas, often prompted by health and/or religious reasons (Serpenti, 1984, p.299). Because of the influence of western education, the formal aspects of traditional education came to be seen as irrelevant or undervalued by some in tribal society (Cheetham, 1980, pp.67-68). This aspect of traditional education has declined substantially, so that few village youth experience the process, but what is of interest is the education rationales and structures employed, since they have their basis in a Melanesian psychology. An appreciation of these may assist educational-ists in articulating and better understanding such a psychology, and so enhance learning and teaching in its Melanesian context.


The "secret" or "true" knowledge could not be naturally learned but had to be passed on to the initiates by those who were already in the know. This special knowledge gave insight into negotiating for good or evil, with the unseen powers that influenced the individual's existence in such vital areas as human, animal and agricultural fertility. Often such knowledge was found in ritualistic formulae based on the secret names of powerful deities, as well as in magical rites and spells passed on to individuals from the gods (Lawrence, 1972, p.1006): "Such knowledge is considered the most potent of man's cultural possessions and is not allowed to fall into the hands of anyone who might not regard it seriously" (McLaren, 1974, p.361). As a consequence, only adults could be capable of its appreciation (Hart, 1955). So, in the practical application of knowledge, the technical and the esoteric played their part, with the latter considered the more important. Rituals were needed to be performed before initiating any routine task which involved the possibility of failure, so that benign spiritual forces might be released, in order to augur more directly, the possibility of success (Smith, G. 1975, p.3). The individual "in the know", with regard to ritual, myth, and magical religious formulae was an individual of wisdom and power, whereas youths possessing a high degree of proficiency in technical knowledge would state openly their limited scholarship. As Lawrence has documented. I asked him (one of the most intelligent informants) if he could make bows and arrows. He told me that he was able to frame them quite well but could not make them. When I commented that it was strange that the could do one and not the other, he explained: "Yes I could whittle them out of black palm and so forth. But they would not shoot straight. I do not know the proper myth and ritual for making them" (Lawrence, 1959, pp.56-7).


Mastery of esoteric knowledge was an essential pre-requisite for leadership (Lawrence, 1972, p.1010). The rationale was that an individual who had gained a reputation as a successful agriculturalist or herdsman was accumulating goods, which was ample proof of the possession of sacred knowledge and the accurate recitation of spells and myths (Smith, G. 1975, p.3). The accumulation of goods and their gratuitous disposal to followers, were necessary for the acquisition of status as leader (Young and Bartos, 1977, p.12):

The leader was expected to demonstrate his knowledge through control over the dispersal of wealth. It is not an exaggeration to say that the control over, and dispersal of wealth was believed to be the overt sign of an inward character. If wealth failed, leadership failed (Young, 1977, p.26).

Formal traditional education was indeed tailored to the ambitions of leadership. It provided the means for the initiates to achieve that sense of identity and purpose, upon which psychological and personal maturity depended: "Learning the exegetic keys to ritual symbolism becomes..., not an end in itself, but a key to understanding - hence to being able to live as a male" (Keesing, 1982, p.9).


The process of formal education often demanded a prolonged separation from the rest of the community. The Oksampmin male initiation was held once each generation, with a two to three month isolation period, in which the initiates were formally instructed in the magic involved for gardening, hunting, care of family, health and weather (Boram, 1980), while the Abalam in the Sepik organised periods of formal education lasting up to about one year in every five or six (Neve, 1970). Perhaps the Bimin-Kuskusmin (Telefomin, West Sepik Province) illustrate to an extreme degree, the importance of formal education, since they devoted "extraordinary time and energy to male ritual activities [which]...involved an ordered sequence of ten stages over a period of some ten to fifteen years" (Poole, 1982, p.107). The initiates became involved in many elaborate ceremonies and rituals, which reinforced the uniqueness of gender. In males particularly, the esoteric knowledge and accompanying rituals were an important experience, if one were to establish a strong masculinity and be able to control the bewitching magic which women are known to use (Hays & Hays, 1982, p.218). The processes involved in female formal education had similar purposes and women were instructed in the advantages and dangers of their own gender (Hayes & Hayes, 1982, p.222). This education aimed to fit the recipient for a role, approved by the community as a cultural ideal (Cheetham, 1980). Most of the beginning ceremonies centred upon what constituted the means for good health and general welfare (Read, 1985), and what would be appropriate in attracting potential partners, and so society's preservation was ensured (Cheetham, 1980). Lawrence noted that at initiatory dances, magic spells were bestowed upon the ornamentation of the initiates (Lawrence, 1959) and in many regions some sort of bodily operation such as penile incision was performed (Newman & Boyd, 1982). It was then that a certain amount of information was imparted in verbal form, particularly about the roles, intricacies and taboos of marriage (Newman & Boyd, 1982) and related food prohibitions (Poole, 1982, p.106). A verbal didactic approach utilising a "core curriculum" was employed in this learning of sacred knowledge which was often contained in important myths, songs and legends. Initiates were taught the esoteric names of important deities and how to evoke their appropriate intervention (Lawrence, 1972). In addition, in some regions, there also existed instructions in sorcery (Glick, 1972), the eating of magic herbs (Mead, 1937, p.49) as well as the competent use of the correct ritual appropriate to the situation (Lawrence, 1972). It was only then, that the knowledge and accurate use of the esoteric, that permitted individuals to live in harmony with the seen and unseen, was imparted.


In the formal education system, the institutionalised role of teacher was plainly acknow-ledged, for only those in the know were able to transmit sacred knowledge to the uninitiated. Like the post graduate student at a university, the young Hulis searched for those "scholars" widely acknowledged to be specialists in sacred knowledge and negotiated a deal that might attract the scholar to take them on. The process involved seclusion, but like formal education in other societies, it was essentially an individual process (Cheetham, 1980, pp.65-68). In contrast, Herdt (1982) has documented that the elders as a corporate body, often took the role of mentor and conducted elaborate ceremonies and rituals, accompanied by verbal instruction to small groups of initiates, at times appropriate to their learning development, from adolescence to mid adulthood. Though the process involved severe pain, this education met a demand for without it one could not function fully in the roles society demanded. This education promoted a sense of individual identity within the clan-society as well as a sense of security. Traditional education helped individuals to know who they were, where they were going and how to get there.


Clearly, education in Papua New Guinea did not arrive with the government or with the different Christian missions. Obviously, what traditional education offered and achieved was appropriate since it assisted in not only the survival but the propagation of the Melanesian population of the island of New Guinea - a population rich in culture, tradition and spirituality. For the expatriate, such an understanding of traditional education is an empowering insight to more appropriately meet the educational needs of Papua New Guinea students.

Commentary on Chapter 2 Commentary on Chapter 2

Just as an appreciation of traditional of education is appropriate to provide an understanding of contemporary education in Papua New Guinea so also is the appreciation of the history teacher education system that fostered what currently exists. No structure stands irrespective of its context. An understanding of the present is promoted by an understanding of the past. Consequently such an account of the evolution of teacher education in Papua New Guinea not only provides interesting documentation for the historically minded reader but also builds a context to better understand the contemporary evolving system of teacher education. Many of the present initiatives are attempting to address issues that have their bases in unresolved problems and policies that were current ten, twenty or thirty years ago. Moreover, some current problems in teacher education can be traced to the adherence of appropriate policies of twenty years ago that are presently deleterious to quality education now. Consequently this chapter attempts to provide an exposition that might assist in understanding better contemporary teacher education in Papua New Guinea.

This chapter had its basis in: O'Donoghue, T. & Austin, D.(1994), The evolution of a national system of teacher education in the developing world: The case of Papua New Guinea, History of Education, 23(3) pp.183-96.




The first permanent European settlement in what is now Papua New Guinea (PNG) commenced in the early 1870s when groups of missionaries and traders began to establish themselves. Papua became a British colony in 1884 and an Australian Territory in 1906. German New Guinea, to the north of Papua, was transferred to Australian control following the First World War. From 1918 until the Japanese invasion in 1942, Papua and New Guinea were governed separately by Australia. After the Second World War an Australian trusteeship of New Guinea was established by the United Nations and the Territories of Papua and New Guinea were combined under a single Australian administration until self-government in 1973, and independence in 1975.

PNG is still a developing country. Currently, only 74% of the community school age-group enter grade one. At the same time, there is apparent political commitment to achieve UPE by the end of the century (Department of Education, 1985, p.85). To this end PNG, by late 1992, was in the process of reforming its educational system to provide greater equity and social justice and improve the quality of education (See chapter 5). This has implications for teacher education. Moreover, this development is recognised as a significant initiative in the history of PNG teacher education. Accordingly, it is timely to present an exposition on the evolution of teacher education in PNG over the last century so that such developments can be viewed within the wider historical context. This chapter is such an exposition for the period 1873-1985. The decision to begin at 1873 stems from the fact that the year in question marks the beginning of colonial education with the Christian missions establishing their first schools in British New Guinea. The year 1985 marked the beginning of a major policy shift which culminated in the developments which are currently taking place in teacher education.

Between the mid-1870s and the mid-1980s community school teacher education was changed in five phases of development, each of which corresponds with those identified by Weeks and Guthrie (1984a, p.29) for PNG educational developments generally: periods of conversion, gradualism, expansion, nationalism and decentralisation. In this chapter, the development of primary school teacher education is considered for each period. The analysis for each period is based largely on Beeby's (1966) theory of educational development in developing countries, a seminal work. It focuses on the qualitative aspects of teaching and gives emphasis to the role of the teacher as the key change agent to facilitate progress through the Dame School stage, the stage of Formalism, the stage of Transition and the stage of Meaning.

CONVERSION: 1873-1946

Much of the history of formal schooling in PNG is directly tied to the history of the various Christian missions. The year 1873 marks the beginning of mission education. In that year the London Missionary Society (LMS) in Port Moresby established its first literacy program and teacher training school. Until 1946 there was a general lack of interest and virtually no direct involvement in education by succeeding colonial administrations (Weeks & Guthrie, 1984a, p.33).

The Christian missions' major concern with education was to ease the conversion of the people to Christianity. Christian dogma implied that people should follow peaceful and obedient ways. Consequently, colonial governments supported the missions' virtual monopoly of education:

Governments by and large were content to support the missions in their work, for their aims of pacification, civilisation, and native development were equally served by the mission schools (Weeks & Guthrie, 1984a, p.33).

This period was one of classical colonialism where "the coloniser rather than the colonised held power for purposes the coloniser defined" (Altbach & Kelly, 1978, p. 2). The training of teachers was one of the first activities of the early missionaries. They quickly established pastor training schools (Smith, 1985). Here, potential pastors and catechists were enrolled and given a rudimentary training in which mainly rote-learning techniques were used. These focused on basic literacy, numeracy and Christian religious education.

In Papua, the British colonial administration's lack of involvement in education was influenced by the non-mission expatriate community who wanted to maintain a submissive labour force (Territory of Papua, 1910). It has been contended that this community doubted the capability of Papuans to gain anything much from schooling. Nevertheless, Christian missions set up schools with government approval (Smith, 1987).

Unlike the British Administration in Papua, the German administration in New Guinea gave some financial assistance to the missions. By 1913 they had plans for a national education system, including both mission and government schools. Dr. Hahl, the governor from 1902 to 1914, actively promoted primary and technical education. In Rabaul, he established a government school for both European and indigenous children (Smith, 1987). Largely, the desire was that the native population would learn to see the world through German eyes, would come to a knowledge of the German language and would acquire technical knowledge and skills so that they would make a contribution to the overall development of the German Empire.

Many of the teachers in both Papua and New Guinea were expatriates. The Catholics used priests and religious brothers and sisters of European origin; the LMS used non-English speaking teachers and their wives from Samoa, the Loyalty Islands, Niue, the Ellis Islands and Raratonga; the Methodists used Samoans, Tongans and Fijians, and the Anglicans recruited South Sea islanders from the cane fields of Queensland. The Dame School style of education (Beeby, 1966) in which the Polynesian teachers were prepared, is reflected in the following description by the Reverend A. K. Chignall, Anglican Priest for Wanigela in the Northern District:

The course of instruction was in reading and writing of a very primitive hand. The teacher squatted on the floor... listened to the alphabet or words... repeated alternatively by the children around. In the higher forms short [Scriptural] sentences were being read (Chignall, 1925, pp. 130-1).

Papuan and New Guinean teacher-evangelists were also trained by expatriate missionaries.

In Papua, rudimentary training institutions were established. In Port Moresby, an LMS training school for primary teachers was established in 1895. The Wesleyan Mission also trained a considerable number of students (Smith, 1987, p.38). In German New Guinea, the Lutherans set up teacher training at Finschafen in 1905, and the Methodists established a teacher training centre at Ulu, in the Duke of York islands. The Catholics came much later into teacher education because they had a large complement of European teachers belonging to the various religious orders. Protestant missions, because of limited numbers of expatriate personnel and also because of their ready acceptance of the laity's involvement in the ministry, made increasing use of native assistants and teacher catechists. LMS teacher evangelists were trained at central schools and gradually came to replace many of the South Sea Island teachers. Central schools for each LMS mission district were located at the mission headstations and were generally more advanced than the outstation schools. They were often boarding institutions, catering not only for local pupils but for the `better' students from the outstations. Some of these central school students were chosen to be trained as teacher evangelists to take up appointments at the out-station schools.

The meager mission pay of the teacher matched that of an indentured plantation labourer. The white missionaries expected their indigenous teachers to work for low wages out of a sense of `professional' vocational commitment. Another aspect of this required `professionalism' was that the teacher evangelist and his immediate family were expected to model Christian behaviour in their lives and provide pastoral care for those around them. There were, however, benefits provided by the mission that raised the status and material conditions of the indigenous teachers. These usually included a simple uniform with religious insignia, a bush house or assistance to build a bush house, medical care for the whole family and use of mission land for gardening.

The preparation of the Catholic ‘auxiliary catechists‘ and the Lutheran ‘kis‘ was different from the preparation of the teacher evangelists. These ‘auxiliary catechists‘ and ‘kis‘ had a preparation which most likely was at the lower end of Beeby's Dame School stage. It usually took place on a one-to-one, or small-group basis through working with a priest at his mission station. In contrast with the teacher-evangelists, catechists were generally illiterate, learning their catechism by heart in order to ‘teach‘ others to do likewise. Yet, despite their poor training and low status, their role was to initiate evangelisation into newly contacted areas.

The foreign missionaries who acted as teacher trainers, though usually well educated, were themselves often not trained teachers. They advocated an authoritarian system of education characterised by memorisation and rote learning, silence and strict good order in the classroom, and a narrow subject content: religious instruction, the three R‘s and practical work (Flierl, 1927, pp.131-2). These are characteristics of Beeby‘s Dame School stage, and the lower levels of the stage of Formalism. They also reflect what McKinnon has termed the ‘imitative stage‘ of curriculum development, namely, when missions transplanted curricula from their countries of origin (Weeks & Guthrie, 1984a. p.48). It is arguable that such authoritarian approaches were appropriate to the authoritarian cultural context (Larking, 1974), winning the support and respect of the people and providing the teacher with an influential ‘big man‘ image.

Secular subjects like reading, writing, arithmetic, history and geography received some attention where qualified personnel were available, particularly in central schools under the control of foreign missionaries. Generally, however, memorising religious tenets was the norm. The following description by the Rev. A. K. Chignall in 1908 probably reflects contemporary attitudes:

I feel that the schools are a valuable arrangement by which we Christian missionaries gather the children together for training in the way of Christ with such incidental instruction in `reading, `riting, and `rithmetic as is possible with teachers who themselves can barely read or reckon, and with the merest minimum of books and other educational machinery. It would not be a gain from the missionaries standpoint, if what are called secular subjects should be as well taught as in . . . Australia . . ., while the Church would have us try as she must try elsewhere, to put in the religion as a sort of extra subject (Chignell, 1925, pp.130-1).

Graduates from central schools were expected to spread Christian beliefs in their home areas and work environments. They were often the elite of school leavers and became clerks, artisans and teacher-evangelists. This teacher training system, where the graduates were meant to be models for others, was common until 1929 when it was recommended by the Administration that a four-year teacher training course be established in Rabaul for graduates with seven years of primary schooling. In 1934-35, it was reported that the Malaguna elementary school in Rabaul was going to become a training school for indigenous teachers (Mandated Territory of New Guinea, 1935). Three indigenous teachers were made available for native schools from the Malaguna school and they were joined by six others in 1938-39. In Papua, in 1939, the visiting inspector recommended that teacher training centres be set up immediately for native teachers in each mission. This was not acted on for neither the missions nor the government had the financial resources to build, staff and conduct full teachers' colleges (Territory of Papua, 1940).

Overall, then, Administration activity in teacher education was negligible and it was left to the missions to take up the challenge. By 1940, the various missions in Papua and New Guinea conducted thirty-four teacher training centres as well as 2329 village schools, 158 elementary schools and forty-four secondary schools, with a total enrolment of 90,000 students (Weeks & Guthrie, 1984a p.34). However, just when the foundation of a comprehensive teacher training system, albeit functioning at the lower levels of Beeby's stage of Formalism, was being established, it was destroyed by the outbreak of war in the Pacific.


The era of gradualism has been identified by Weeks and Guthrie (1984a) as the second era of educational development in PNG. It commenced after the Second World War. It was characterised by the prevailing philosophy that social change in developing countries must be brought about slowly and carefully. The philosophy also maintained that a democratic society should be based on universal primary education promoting mass literacy, numeracy and democratic citizenship. W. C. Groves, the first Director of Education, almost single-handedly planned the reorganisation of the post-war education system (Smith, G. 1975). Groves described the goal of this reorganisation as one of building "a new cultural structure upon the real and solid foundations of existing native institutions and ideals" (Smith, G. 1975, pp.26-27)

Paul Hasluck, the Minister and J. K. Murray, the Administrator of the Territories of Papua and New Guinea, believed in and pursued this policy of gradualism. Murray recognised the urgent need to train a large number of indigenous teachers:

No teachers, no schools! The training of teachers is an immediate task and one of the magnitude ... It will be necessary to train a large staff of native (sic) teachers as soon as possible, not only because the expense of maintaining a large staff of Australians is too great, but also because the natives must be able to man (sic) their own educational services if self government is to be achieved (Murray, 1949. p. 31).

In 1947, Groves announced that Sogeri school outside Port Moresby had been designated for the following year as an intensive teacher training centre. Consequently, a government teacher training scheme under the auspices of the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme's scholastic course came into operation at Sogeri in 1948. A syllabus was issued in 1948 to guide teachers conducting these courses. Selected teachers from Administration schools were brought to Sogeri for a special one-year course of training. During 1949, a teacher training centre was opened at Kerevat, outside Rabaul, and the first graduates from there completed their two-year course in 1951.

At the 1946 Administration-Mission Conference the problem of training teachers for mission schools was discussed at length. Some missions were anxious to cooperate with the Administration but others believed that their autonomy might be threatened and were not prepared to co-operate. This reticence, however, did not mean that mission involvement in teacher education was not becoming more organised after the war:

In Papua the LMS makes teacher training part of its theological course for pastor teachers. The Anglicans have a three year course in College, then the trainee does a probationary course of teaching for two years under white supervision. The trainees are then licensed as teachers and put in charge of village schools. The Lutherans in New Guinea send their trainees to teacher training seminaries (Report of the South Pacific Christian Conference, 1948).

The Department of Education conducted refresher courses for mission teachers during October and November 1952 and during November 1953. Thirty teachers attended each of these courses. In addition, a two-year correspondence course for field teachers was established by the Department. It consisted of a first year of general education followed by a year of professional studies (Territory of Papua, 1952. p.3). Because satisfactory completion of this course was necessary for promotion and higher pay, it resulted in the professional status of its graduates being elevated.

In 1950 a revised, enlarged teacher training syllabus was issued for general use in both government and mission teacher training institutions, and for scholastic courses under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Scheme (Department of Education, 1950, p.3). This scheme operated for about ten years after the war. The syllabus outlined was a three-year course. Year one was a prevocational year and consisted of eight hours a week reading and writing in the Tok Ples (vernacular) or Tok Pisin (PNG's lingua franca) to a prescribed standard. English was considered unnecessary at this stage. Other year one studies conducted over twelve hours a week included number, social studies, natural sciences, hygiene, handwriting, singing, physical education and religion. Year two was a year of vocational teacher training and students spent up to ten hours a week learning how to teach in village schools with another ten hours devoted to general education at the standard three to four level. The syllabus stated that:

... the medium of instruction in the second year may be the vernacular, Pidgin or simple English according to local circumstances, but trainees must be encouraged to make increasing use of simple colloquial English. All routine instructions in school, labels and wall notices should be in English (Department of Education, 1950, p.5).

It is likely that the standard of English used by teachers in primary schools was only at an elementary level. The revised and enlarged training syllabus with its emphasis on teaching the three R‘s to prescribed elementary standards and provision of a rudimentary education in other subjects, along with the requirement that an external examination be passed in order to receive a Teachers' Certificate, suggest that graduates may have been performing at the lower levels of Beeby's stage of Formalism (Beeby, 1966, pp. 71-3).

Relatively few teachers were trained in the three government training institutions in the early 1950s: Sogeri Teachers' College had sixteen trainees in 1950, twenty-seven in 1951 and forty-two in 1952; Kerevat Teachers' College had eighty-four trainees in 1950, mostly in their second year, and sixty-one first year and twenty-eight second year trainees in 1951. Dregerhaven Teachers' College opened in 1950 with twenty-six trainees. Between 1948 and 1952 a number of short courses for existing teachers were also held at various institutions. In 1952 a decision was made to upgrade the standard of national teachers. In Beeby's terms, this can be seen as an attempt to move the teachers from lower levels in the stage of Formalism into higher levels. The following year, steps were taken which meant that students who had gained the Territory Leaving Certificate after two years of secondary education, could enrol in a new one year course, leading to a Provisional Teachers' Certificate. It was also planned to extend this course to two years, with an examination at the end. Success in this examination was required for a Trained Teachers' Certificate. As a result there were no graduates at the end of 1953. By 1954 there was a total of eighty-one trainees at the government teachers' colleges of Dregerhaven, Sogeri and Kerevat.

An emergency teacher training program was planned by the Department of Education for 1955 because the small output of national teachers was not meeting needs. Universal primary education had become an official, though long-term objective, in that year. Moreover, the United Nations were exerting pressure on the Australian Government to prepare Papua and New Guinea for future independence. An independent democratic country would need an educated populace, including a competent work-force attuned to modern developments. There was a growing concern that the poor quality of teachers being produced must be improved through making training institutions more accountable in terms of defined standards, a set syllabus and examinations. Associated with this was the necessity that staff in teacher training institutions would have the required expertise. Uniformity in standards was another related issue as it was believed that children going to mission schools deserved to have the same quality of teaching as those going to government schools.

The 1952 Education Ordinance, with its provision for the registration of all mission teachers alongside government-trained teachers, had already been passed when, in 1954, the new teacher training structure and syllabus were introduced (Department of Education, 1954). The teacher training syllabus established three separate courses for nationals, each of one year's duration. They were open to both mission and administration trainees. They were known as the A, B and C courses.

The A course required a standard six primary school entry level and prepared students for infant teaching in a program that focused only on training. It deliberately avoided any academic study of general school subjects. The B course required a standard nine entry and prepared students for primary grades, whilst the C course entry level requirement was the completion of two years of secondary schooling (Department of Education, 1954). Both B and C courses provided training and also some academic study of general school subjects. Whilst these developments reflect qualitative improvements in teacher education, it is likely that the quality of teacher education remained well within Beeby's stage of Formalism, particularly because the academic entry standards of students were still low.

With the introduction of specific entry standards, prescribed curriculum, examinations and certification for both mission and administration teachers, the 1954 developments established the basis for a professionally manned and unified school system. The Director of Education, Mr G. T. Roscoe, said in the Legislative Council in 1960:

One of the most progressive steps every undertaken by this department was the establishment of teacher's examinations which provide a common standard of professional training for mission and administration teachers (Roscoe, 1960).

Despite the recognition by 1955 that the C course should become the principal training course, few were admitted to the program, largely because there were insufficient applicants with the necessary entry qualifications. There were no C course graduates in 1953. Only sixty teachers, comprising a mixture of B and C course graduates, completed training in 1954.

To extend this limited output of teachers, the Department of Education in 1955 introduced an emergency one-year B course teacher training program in six schools located at Utu, Vunamami, Lorengau, Madang, lrandi and Popondetta. To secure a sufficient number of entrants the standard of entry was lowered below standard nine. The twelve trainees at Popondetta were all females, including ten who had only attained standard six. This was the first formal women's teacher training course held in PNG. Previously, young women had been trained individually on a `pupil-teacher' basis at the four girls' schools at Dregerhaven, Tavui, Kerama and Hanuabada. In addition, 123 C course trainees attended Dregerhaven, Kerevat and Sogeri. Overall, 222 nationals were in Administration teacher training colleges in 1955 (Shannon, 1992).

Wishing to gain registration for their teachers, several mission training institutions formally adopted the 1954 syllabus in 1955. By 1956 these institutions had 695 students in training. By increasing the number of their training institutions the missions trained 818 students in 1957, though many of these students were practising teachers trying to gain registration (Shannon, 1992). One important consequence of this process was that standards were effectively raised in mission institutions to that of Administration institutions. Accordingly, it is likely that teachers performing at least at the lower level of Formalism were becoming the norm throughout the teaching system.

On I January 1955, a new system for subsidising mission education was established when mission teachers were subsidised at 80 pounds (A course), 120 pounds (B and C course), and 40 pounds (approved trainees) a year. It is likely that this had the effect of raising the status of mission education. The Administration continued with the emergency teacher training programs for the next two years, still enrolling some B course students who did not have an education up to standard nine. After 1957 all applicants had to have at least a grade nine standard of education. The academic entry level of students was gradually rising but was still at a level that required the emphasis to be on ‘training‘ rather than ‘education‘. In turn, this meant that lecturers were concerned about producing teacher technicians and placed little emphasis on the development of the students' higher cognitive processes.


The appointment of G. T. Roscoe as Director of Education in 1958 ushered in an expansion of the primary school system spearheaded by an influx of Australian teachers (Weeks & Guthrie, 1984a, p.36). These teachers, though sometimes short on experience, were placed in positions of responsibility as school principals or senior teachers. It was expected that they would provide leadership and guidance for their less academic PNG colleagues.

Concern with the low academic standards of PNG teachers led to entrance examinations for teacher training institutions being introduced in 1959 (Department of Education, 1958). A Teacher Training Division within the Department of Education was established the previous year and one of its first tasks was to design the entrance examinations. Its concern was with ensuring that quality teacher training was maintained across all training institutions. From the outset, the Division was concerned with monitoring professional standards (see chapter 7). In 1959 the special entrance examinations were abolished in favour of using the official primary school final examination and the high school standard nine examination as entrance examinations for the A and B courses respectively. Each year that followed saw the requirements for certification extended. In 1960 the C course was extended to two years. The Administration colleges lengthened their B course to two years in 1961. The mission colleges were given two years' notice to make a corresponding change and by 1963 all B course trainees were following a two-year program.

At the end of 1965, subsidies to all certificated mission national teachers were substantially increased, again favouring those with higher certificates. The C course teacher subsidy of 700 pounds a year contrasted with the A course subsidy of 300 pounds a year. The one-year A course trainee subsidy of 60 pounds a year differed from the two-year (A, B, C) subsidy of 100 pounds a year. This discriminatory system of graded subsidies encouraged both the missions and intending applicants to strive for the higher quality C certificates.

In 1962, the Department of Education issued a new 56-page syllabus for the one-year A course that prescribed English as the only language of instruction for training and teaching (Department of Education, 1962). Pedagogical studies still formed the major part of the curriculum. Academic studies, when they took place, were pursued outside formally programmed activities, for it was stated that the raising of the academic standard of students was not one of the functions of a teachers' college where the students were completing a one-year course (Department of Education, 1962, p.5). Thus, the A course focus on pure training was retained. In January 1963, the first syllabus for the two-year course was issued. It was very much an in-depth version of the one-year A course with some attention to content learning in general subjects. Accordingly, while individual teacher educators were operating at various levels in Beeby's stage of Formalism, the indications are that they were not in any way approaching the Transition stage.

During the 1950s both the Administration and the missions increased the number of teachers being trained by opening many small colleges. Some mission colleges had only one lecturer. Then, in the 1960s, the number of colleges was greatly reduced to create bigger colleges, with 80-100 students in each, so that they could reap the benefits of economies of scale, including better equipped libraries and facilities, and take advantage of specialised subject lecturers (Meere, 1967).

In 1963, internally set and marked written examinations were piloted in selected colleges offering a two-year program, effectively recognising that teacher education was becoming more professional and that this should be demonstrated through increased collegiality in curricular processes. The papers were written by college lecturers and scrutinised by Departmental officers before being given to trainees. Marking was done by college staff. They then presented the results to the Department of Education which made the final decisions about passes and failures.

Departmental officers assessed practical teaching but also took into account college ratings. The scheme was extended in 1964 to all colleges offering a two-year program and extended in 1965 to all colleges offering a one-year program. Colleges began to improve the quality of their staff to meet the professional requirements of such educational reforms, but these staff were still almost entirely of foreign origin. Accordingly, while lecturers were progressing towards performing at Beeby's level of Meaning, very few of them were PNG nationals.

In 1961, to cope with the increasing demand for teachers, the one-year A course, originally designated in the 1954 syllabus for mission colleges, became an Administration teacher training course. Entry was at secondary, form one level. The Department rationalised its teacher training programs in 1961 by placing two-year trainees at Wards Strip teachers' college in Port Moresby and one-year trainees at Goroka teachers' college. By 1964, there were 147 one-year A course trainees and 261 first and second year B and C course trainees at the Administration colleges.

The mission colleges` intake expanded from 300 trainees in 1963 to 601 trainees in 1966. At the same time, they were gradually decreasing the proportion of A course trainees from 82% in 1963 to 65% in 1966. The Currie Commission and the Report of the 1965 United Nations Visiting Mission recommended that the A course be discontinued, because its graduates were unable to teach English to a satisfactory standard (Currie, 1964). As a result, selected one-year trained teachers who had passed the form two examination were recalled to complete a second year of training to upgrade their performance and qualifications. Some of the missions also organised short refresher courses for their A course teachers. One-year A courses continued until 1970.

The government continued to press for consolidation that would bring about a nationally more uniform and efficient system. The missions feared the erosion of the limited autonomy and peculiar identities of their institutions but because they needed the government subsidies in order to expand, they were persuaded to go along with government wishes. Accordingly, by 1971 consolidation resulted in there being only ten preservice teachers' colleges in the country.


In 1972, the change to a Labor government in Australia accelerated the move toward the independence of PNG. Internal self-government came in 1973, and a committee made up of citizens was given the task of investigating the future development of education. The subsequent report published in 1974 represented a move away from an expansionist policy of education where the primary purpose was the training of a work-force for the modern sector, to an education policy based around education for the community, especially education at the village community school.

Improving the quality of community school teacher education became a major focus of attention throughout the South Pacific following the publication of Beeby's (1966) work, The Quality of Education in Developing Countries. Beeby contended that the key to any education system's progress is the ability of its teachers to promote change, and that this ability is itself dependent on the teachers' level of general education and the quality of their professional training. With such ideas in mind, the teachers' colleges during the late 1960s and early 1970s "went through what we may call an academic state" (Penias & Quartermaine, 1980), attempting not only to train but to educate. Subject method courses were complemented by content courses. The method courses aimed to develop students' teaching skills whilst the content courses tried to consolidate and raise their conceptual understanding of the nature of education itself and the subjects they would teach. Content courses not only focused on the community school curriculum but also attempted to give a broader and deeper knowledge base. In education studies, the theories and ideas of educational philosophers and psychologists were often dealt with at some length. However, this attempt to move teacher education into Beeby's Transition stage was not successful. It is arguable that most students were unable to benefit from such courses because their background knowledge and experience were insufficient as a foundation for assimilating the concepts being presented to them.

The lecturers in the teachers' colleges were mainly expatriates with greatly varying qualifications and experience. They ranged from young inexperienced volunteers who were graduates to experienced but poorly qualified missionaries, and from experienced and well-qualified missionaries to experienced and well-qualified contract officers. The latter were mainly attached to the two government colleges.

Lecturers had considerable autonomy in the development of the curriculum and in designing, preparing and presenting their own courses. Accordingly, what was taught often reflected lecturers' special interests. They were accountable to Boards of Studies and inspectors whose main concern was that courses adequately prepared students to teach the primary school curriculum effectively. In practice, most Boards accepted that the lecturers were the experts and accepted their courses with little argument. Accountability became more evident after the creation of a unified education system in 1970 and the perceived need to demonstrate uniform standards across colleges.

It is interesting to note that despite the diversity of staff backgrounds, experience and qualifications, the methods, curriculum content and the quality of the graduating students was much the same in all colleges. It is likely that while lecturing styles were often those of individuals operating at the stage of Meaning, students remained firmly entrenched at the stage of Formalism (Larking, 1974). Furthermore, few if any attempts were made to provide structures and processes to assist students to move gradually out of the stage of Formalism as Beeby suggested, through the Transition stage to the stage of Meaning.


Soon after independence in 1975 the threat by the population of Bougainville to secede from PNG brought a major national government policy shift resulting in the decentralising of much policy-making power to provincial governments. Teacher education, however, remained under national government control. The first five-year Education Plan of the independent state of PNG was endorsed in 1976, and in 1977 the Minister for Education outlined policies for preservice teacher education. These policies included the prescription of at least six weeks of supervised practice teaching by the students each year and a staff-to-student ratio of 1:15 (Yeoman, 1986). The Plan recommended that the number of staff-student contact hours be set at twelve to eighteen hours per week, depending on staff levels. The minimum qualifications required to become a teachers' college lecturer were PNG registration as a school teacher, at least two years' teaching experience, demonstrated superior teaching performance, and eligibility for provisional admission to the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG). It is likely that those holding the necessary qualifications and who became teacher educators, were, like the students they taught, able to operate only at Beeby's stage of Formalism. This was probably because the general education of national teacher educators was not sufficient to develop their cognitive capacities and only provided them with a limited cognitive foundation, particularly in their subject specialities.

With self-government in 1973 and Independence in 1975, the move to localise teacher education accelerated, but with it came an unstated assumption that PNG staff, at least in the short term, would not be able to handle the professional autonomy of designing and presenting their own courses without prescriptive guiding structures. This contributed to the promotion of national behavioural objectives for all subject courses through a series of workshops from 1977 to 1980. It is arguable that this development was most appropriate for the time (Print, 1987 p.25).

The 1977 Annual Principals' Conference of the community school teachers' colleges (APC) resolved that a series of workshops be conducted to draw up course objectives, content, time allocation, teaching strategies, minimum student competencies, methods of assessment and reference materials for the eleven subjects on the college curriculum. Between 1977 and 1980 twenty workshops were conducted involving relevant staff from all the colleges. The major outcome of these workshops was the production of national objectives for each course, together with handbooks for practice teaching and assessment (Department of Education, 1985). The workshops were funded by the Australian International Development Assistance Bureau (AIDAB), which also facilitated the provision of outside specialist consultants who assisted in the curriculum development process. These workshops brought staff together in a collegial and businesslike atmosphere of a nature likely to have assisted the promotion of their professional development, particularly since many of them had little or no previous experience in curriculum development prior to this.

An underlying goal of the developments in teacher education since Independence was to improve quality. In 1980, In Search of Standards (Kenehe, 1980) made recommendations relating to the improvement of the perceived low standards at all levels of the education system, including teacher education. Amongst its recommendations were the introduction of a staff-student ratio of 1:12, a recruitment program to attract better applicants, a long-term goal of a minimum entry standard of grade twelve, and the establishment of a national Institute of Teacher Education. However, with limited finance available, government priorities dictated that energies and funds were channelled into improving access to community school education and into the localisation of teachers' college staff. This minimised additional developments.

The localisation of community school teacher education increased from 16% of staff being PNG nationals at Independence to 50% by 1985 (Department of Education, 1985). This increase was largely facilitated by the 1982 Education 2 project. This 25 million kina community education project included a sub-project to improve teacher education. Both of the government teachers' colleges namely Port Moresby and Madang but not the Mission colleges had their facilities, including libraries and dormitories improved; training fellowships were provided for selected teachers' college lecturers in specific subject areas; and training for both potential and existing teacher educators was provided, through a combination of local and overseas and degree and non-degree education, with the objective of increasing localisation rates in teachers' colleges. One result of the sub-project was the provision of courses, under the auspices of AIDAB, at the Canberra College of Advanced Education (CCAE) for associate lecturers and serving lecturers to upgrade their qualifications and knowledge. Unfortunately,the impact from this program was disappointingly limited (AIDAB,1989, p.vii).

One proposal over the years for the improvement of teacher education which fell victim of government priorities was that a national Institute of Teacher Education be established. The origins of the concept of an institute date back to the 1944 McNair Committee Report on the supply, recruitment and training of teachers in the UK (Rogers, 1979). In PNG, official reports and policy proposals relating to teacher education since the Second World War have reflected some or all ideas of the McNair Report. The 1964 Currie Report (1964) recognised teacher education as "the crux of the education problem" and proposed that a School of Education be established at UPNG to supervise the teachers' training colleges. The 1969 Weeden Report (1969) again brought attention to the issue. Colleges were identified as a disparate grouping urgently needing coordination to facilitate the setting of standards and rationalisation of limited resources of finance and skilled expertise. In the same year, the Annual Principals' Conference (APC), influenced by the extensive literature and persuasive arguments favouring the establishment of an institute provided by the main conference organiser, G. W. Gibson (Rogers, 1979, p.14), made two recommendations favouring the formation of such a body, but nothing eventuated.

The issue arose again from time to time over the next two decades. In 1971, the Brown Report viewed an institute as being inappropriate at that particular time. Two years later, Gibson, on behalf of the Teacher Education Committee (TEC) (Rogers, 1979, p. 14), investigated institutes of teacher education that has been established in countries in the developing world. In 1974, the Dean of the UPNG Faculty of Education addressed the matter and the following year a committee of teachers' college principals was asked by the NEB to produce a draft constitution and guidelines for an association of community teachers' colleges - which could evolve to become an institute - and to report back to the APC later that year. Fear of erosion of autonomy and identity, however, brought about a negative response from mission colleges (Leach, 1975). The late 1970s and the 1980s witnessed a continuation of the debate but it was not until 1989 that the first steps were finally taken to establish an Institute of Teacher Education. Sadly, once again nothing eventuated.


From the early mission days the development of teacher education progressed unevenly. This development has been identified as taking place within five major periods of educational development. Until the outbreak of the Second World War the profession was dominated by expatriates who operated at the lower level of Beeby's stage of Formalism. From the end of the war until the late 1950s the profession continued to be dominated by expatriates but, with greater state government involvement, their level of professionalism within the stage of Formalism improved. This improvement continued during the end of this period and into the early 1970s with the continuing influx of expatriate teacher educators with formal academic qualifications. The situation was not affected greatly during the period 1972-75 by the small number of nationals who entered the profession as Australia prepared the country for independence. The situation regressed, however, arguably to the lower levels of Formalism, as nationals with very low academic qualifications began to replace expatriates after independence was granted in 1975. In the l990s, with an almost totally localised work-force, attempts are being made to raise the quality of work in the teachers' colleges once more. All who wish to see PNG progress to developed nation status can only hope that they will be successful.

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