By Sr Mary McCarthy
INDEPENDENCE Day provides opportunity to do what the Constitution of Papua New Guinea recommends, namely, to pay homage to our ancestors, the source of our strength. Our ancestors in Catholic Education span 140 years! Indeed Catholic Education has a much longer history on the world stage.
The growth of Catholic education since Independence is built on the sweat and tears of several generations of teachers, who went into the most remote places, started schools, were never well paid, but were deeply committed to their task of educating the next generation of children and youths and passionate about their work.
Geographically, PNG is a magnificent country. It is such a joy to travel by air, sea and land and witness the beauty and the uniqueness of every corner.
The remotest corners of the PNG are often the most beautiful.
Think of the newly-discovered orchids revealed when the Erave-Kikori road was constructed and ancient trees yielded the magnificent flowers previously unseen blooming among the highest branches, or the spectacular rock formations, the coral perimeter of the island chains with their crystal clear inviting waters.
However, these places, for all their extraordinary beauty, are also the most challenging for the teacher.
Teachers and their families, often sacrifice access to basic services such as health, banking and stores to provide service to the remotest places.
Catholic Tvet managers are among the amazing teachers who have dedicated many years to the education of the country’s future leaders in a whole range of important trades crucial for nation-building.
In recent years, their enthusiasm and dedication have grown as a result of opportunities to meet and find a forum for sharing their vision.
This year, they will meet again to systematically build their capacity to perform their indispensable role in implementing the Government of PNG’s Vision 2050 by making the Tvet Framework a reality. They will undergo intensive training in early November sponsored by Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and facilitated by staff of the Tvet. The achievements of the Tvet School in Lae, St Joseph’s, are well known and widely publicised.
But it is the achievements, in the face of enormous challenges, that are unheralded in places like St Joseph’s, Kikori, Gulf or St Joseph’s, Wataluma, Milne Bay or St Paul’s Tunuru, Bougainville.
There are more than 50 Tvet schools belonging to the Catholic Education Agency.
The Catholic Education Agency administers these schools in partnership with the Department of Education.
Currently, Tvet managers are under enormous stress due to the non-payment of Term Three tuition fee-free subsidies.
Many of these schools in remote areas cater for boarding students and providing adequate food is an absolute priority.
Payment to the suppliers cannot be delayed for long periods.
Boards of management are facing the decision to either close the school or seek an interim payment from parents to be refunded when the TFF funds arrive.
Achievements: As a result of In-Service Training, Tvet managers report greater awareness of Tvet plans, policies, programmes and operations of Tvet division.
They are appreciative of the opportunity to share with their colleagues, to learn from one another and to identify changing situations, ‘gaps’ and challenges in each school.
PowerPoint presentations from each school provide ample evidence that many excellent schools exist.
By Sr Mary McCarthy