|Subject: Educational System in Enga Questioned
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Date Posted: Mon, Dec 08 2008, 05:46:39pm
If you were in primary school in the 1980s, you might realize that your spoken and written English has a distinctive variance to that of someone who went to school in the late 1990s. Further more, children who are being enrolled in the Elementary schools (TPPS) currently (1999 +) where essentially, lessons, activities or in general communication is either being conversed or channelled via our native language (Enga pii) or pidgin, exhibit a totally new form of communication in English.
The latter is terrible, poor, and reflects an enormous deficiency in exposure to spoken (oral) English. Six months ago, I visited Sangurap, Amala, Teremanda and Sari. Whilst at these four places, I walked in to four different Tok Ples Preschool classrooms built to the size of garages with bush material. What astonished me the most were the drawings and writings on the walls. Initially, my mind wondered off trying to connect with my mouth to pronounce a series of words which were equated to the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, ........................10. Naturally, I did figure out what these all meant. Mendai=1, Lapo=2, Tepo=3, kiromend=4,................Akalit - Mendai=10
My friend, a former elementary school teacher, Mr. Kati (not his real name) who was my guide during this trip provided me with facts concerning the school/education system which he had been a part of. He had been teaching children in the Tok Ples Pre-School (TPPS) for half a decade in which he started his TPPS career in Pumas in the Laiagam/Porgera district. When asked about his qualifications in teaching Engas future generation, he mentioned he was a grade six drop out.
One day, the tribal councillor asked for interested youths who wished to be teachers to submit their names. Mr. Kati did submit his name and a week later, he was informed that the village was going to build him a classroom and he would commence teaching in Tok Ples. Occasionally, (once every quarter), he would gather with all other TPPS teachers and head down to Wabag for about two weeks for short courses and to be issued with teaching materials of some sort.
Mr. Katiís story sent frightful thoughts through my mind. What I had just heard was entirely opposite to what I had gone through as a child. When I went to school, I learned to spell one for 1, two for 2, three for 3 etc...........................and my first grade teacher was a wholly qualified personal who had spent a couple of years in some teachers institutions getting moulded, shaped and educated to go out, teach and mentor my era.
At present, we have this educational system in place and I am just wondering what is going to happen to the future of our province and this nation. Reading other literatures, I was flushed to read that in 1989 Parliament approved a Literacy and Awareness Program that specified that children should learn to read and write in their own language, giving the highest level of approval to initial literacy in the vernacular. During this latter period the vernacular languages became an accepted and integral part of the early village school curricula. Early top-down control of local education using English only was gradually reversed.
Something is not right. Maybe we should return back to the former Literacy Program where English is the only acceptable language taught in schools by qualified professionals.
Imagine this, during my schooling days, I was punished for speaking the Enga language in class or in the school grounds, I hope you guys were too. Now, who cares? Children are speaking and writing in Enga. This is an immediate issue at hand and needs to be looked at ASAP.
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