|Subject: IT DEPENDS ON OUR VALUE SYSTEM
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Date Posted: 18:12:35 01/08/00 Sat
In reply to:
's message, "A case study of perhaps unsurmountable weaknesses in our education system" on 11:42:54 01/05/00 Wed
Thank you for an excellent presentation.
What you say is true. However, using Sam as an example did injustice to an otherwise excellent thesis. I say this because the man is way out on his own and is not representative of the average PNGean student. If your dissertation had been on the psyhce of the PNG politician, then Sam would have been a good case study.
Sam attempts to communicate to WF readers by focusing on himself rather than his audience. Even his web site revolves around him rather than his project, and makes it all so apparent that the guy is on a ego trip. Potential donors will see through that pretentious facade.
As for the foundation years of education, I agree completely that what happens at home is equally or even more important than what happens in class. The parents are with their kids more than 70% of the time and therefore have the power to influence them more than the teachers.
Many western families buy books for their children at an early age in order to develop their cognitive skills as early as possible. These days, those that can afford it also buy computers for their children. Our poor PNG families, on the other hand, have to make do with what ever their schools can afford. When the children go home there is nothing to read. So they revert to their surroundings and their age-set for amusement and learning.
We have a unique situation in PNG because of our dual economy that have disparate and divergent values. Our subsistence economy depends on maintaining traditional value systems, which manifest themselves in ‘subsistence affluence’, where one has so much food to share with relatives, while the modern economy seeks to impose itself on the traditional one but based on individual excellence. Given this conflict of values, we were bound to get ourselves in a state of flux (or conflict) until the politicians at that house tambaran decide which direction we should take. I am not sure whether our education policies takes the disparity into account, but the money mongers at the World Bank and IMF realise this and seek to impose their values in order to force us to tip in one or the other direction.
That is not to say that our Melanesian surroundings have no value.On the contrary they do, and I still prefer our way of life compared to the modern one that dominates modern PNG. The problem is in producing teachers with the skill and ability to be able to appropriate western concepts and repackage these to fit with our Melanesian context. Such teachers however, must be competently and appropriately trained and supported with the necessary funding. We have done ourselves a big disservice by allowing teacher training and teaching standards to drop, which in turn, dovetails into the children they teach. I know some teachers that cannot speak fluent English and yet are expected to teach the subject in primary school.
Many grade six drop outs of yester-years are more fluent in English than some of the teachers of today.Therein lies a fundamental problem. Which direction are we supposed to follow? Ours or the western world’s? This is a fundamental issue that needs to be defined because it establishes the appropriate performance parameters that would be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the direction that we finally chose. It is pointless to audit our system against a foreign concept, unless we were interested in becoming like them.
If we wish to participate in the modern economy, with all its technology-dominated lifestyle, then we will have to make a shift in policy and budgetary allocations in order to achieve those outcomes. Teacher training must be upgraded and more resources must be allocated to the primary and secondary schools, as these are the areas where the cognitive abilities are developed. If you look at the budgetary allocations over the years you will find that it has contracted in real terms rather than grown to meet the needs of the growing population.
I mentioned earlier that our melanesean setting does offer values, but for different outcomes. The focus on Melanesean education is on community and security and on being able to provide subsistent affluence to the immediate family and relatives. Hence parents work all day at pursuits related to achieving their valued outcomes and have little time to spend with the child when they get home, as they must prepare dinner before the night falls. After dark there are no lights by which the children study, no TV to watch and question their parents on. They have no chance to be critical, as there are often no alternative view points on many things. The pressure of communal living and sharing allows little time for the child to spend on studying.
Contrast the above with the urban (western prototype) wife, who has little gardening to do and is at home when the poor tired child gets home. She is able to devote time to the child and help with assignments if she is capable.
Yet, some of the team building ‘skills’ that we take for granted at the village level do have value within many modern, transnational corporations. Such corporations have taken what are common practices in Melanesian and other tribal cultures around the world and refined it to form the basis of lucrative training packages for their top executives. Why? Because our systems do have merit. They are no defunct.
For example, to developing effective output teams, some activities which many take for granted in our villages are often used as a basis to instill leadership qualities or training of prospective and current executives . Because Western education focuses on the individual excellence, it fails to equip executives with the necessary team skills required to be in charge of effective out put teams in global corporations. As a result many executives in transnational corporations are rated low compared to their Asian and European Managers. I have seen no significant change since this audit ( The David Karpin Report, in Australia 1995) to change my view on this.But my personal experience also confrms the Karpin report. Australians and American may look good when compared to us, but their fail badly when compared against countries, especailly Japan and Hongkong. And they fail for one simple reason...the ability to lead teams and be decisive. Their sheltered lifestyle did not prepare them for such pursuits. This finding resulted in a growth in team building courses sprouting up everywhere. Many of thei pratical training skills were borrowed from various tribal cultures around the world and which those of us that have lived in the village would be very familiar with. That is because our cultures emphasizes community (team) values rather than individual excellence, in other words team building was the ‘forte’ of melanesian and other tribal cultures. Perhaps this also expalins why the World Bank or IMF consider PNG leaders arrogant! They mistake our assertiveness for arrogance, because they do not understand where we come from.
In another package, the top executives are sent on a trek through the Kokoda trail carrying their own supplies and depending on themselves for survival. They have to learn the skills that we, who live in these jungles, take for granted. Such hardships have made our people very tolerant of unpleasant situations and possibly too tolerant for our own good. But they also good make them good judges of character, a trait that no amount of university theory can ever teach to modern executives, who have to manage agile organizations across the globe.
We have to define where we want to be and that can only come from the politicians and the educated public deciding on where we want to be ten years from now, The present is all but lost..We muct instead focus on the next ten years.
Ove rto yous Education Planners.
Em tasol lik lik mauswara bilong mi. Stap gut ol wantok.
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