A passion to teach

Normal, Weekender

The National, Monday 23rd January 2012

THE education sector recently farewelled a dedicated and hardworking teacher, namely Domitila Raia, 56, of Nordup village in Rabaul district, East New Britain.
Raia began teaching in 1975 after graduating from Madang Teachers College with a certificate in teaching.  What followed after graduation was a whirlwind, she recalls.
Okapa Primary school near Goroka was her first school.
From 1975 to mid-1987, she taught at various primary schools in the Highlands region.
In the later part of 1987 there was no vacancy in teaching positions in the Highlands so she returned home and taught at the Monamono nursery now known as Rabaul Playschool for four months.
In 1988, she drifted away from her profession and was a front desk receptionist at Rabaul Travelodge. A senior inspector with the Education division met her, told her she was in the wrong place and assigned her to Nordup Waterhouse Memorial Primary School.
Between 1989 and 2005, Raia taught in primary schools in ENB namely Tavui, Tavuiliu, Vunairoto, Raluana, Kabagap, Navunaram, Kalamanagunan, and Wairiki.
Her husband, Paul Raia (Snr) who passed away in 2005 was also in the teaching profession and was a senior inspector of the ENB education division when he died.
Deeply affected by his death, Raia asked for time out from teaching.
From 2006 to 2009, she taught at Gelagela Waterhouse Primary School where she was senior subject coordinator and elevated to deputy headteacher. She was also closer to her relatives who supported her during her time of grief.
Pilapila Primary School was her last school that she has headed for the past two years 2010-11.
Raia said running Pilapila has not exactly been a walk in the park for her and her fellow teachers. The school located in Rabaul’s north coast has produced some of ENB’s elites but has been subject to ailing infrastructure and mismanagement over the years with lack of discipline and poor academic performance.
Raia in the past two years has virtually changed this around with positive comments being received from the community.
“The rundown state of my house did not hinder my work as what mattered is the children and I was encouraged to put my total life into my job.”
“For a school to run properly, we need to initiate activities that must meet needs of students to keep them busy, so they do not get into all sorts of mischiefs and getting themselves into trouble.”
Fellow senior and long time teachers KisionVatikai along with his wife Mary said they had witnessed vast improvement at the school in the past two years compared with previous years.
The couple agreed that past head teachers lacked motivation until Raia came along with her sense of encouragement and leadership skills pushing her fellow teachers to work harder and achieved positive results.
“Raia brought us out from our doubts to where we are now and has shown us that we can be competent, especially when past administrations have let us down,” Vatikai says.
“She leaves us with a lot of good knowledge to continue to administer the school.”
Another long serving teacher at Pilapila, Whileminia Johnson, who has taught for more than 10 years, said since Raia stepped in, she introduced the concept of mobile library as the school library was no way near to the learning of the students.
She said the mobile library concept involved students having an hour each day to read books. Plans are already in place to refurbish the existing library that would include a computer laboratory.
“The current management has been an eye-opener for us and we are very sad to let Raia go.”
Another woman teacher, Florence Sabak from East Sepik, said the past administrations did not have the ability to deal with the problem of discipline.
“With the help of the SLIP programme, Raia has changed the school’s environment engaging in beautification, improvements in student discipline and encourage them academically.”
The school’s deputy head teacher, Doris Teko said Raia had utilised her a lot in administration matters and taught her many things.
Since 2005, Raia has contributed short articles, plays and poems to the PNG school journal. She says real-life situations she had experienced inspired her to write and contribute to the younger generation.
Teaching runs in the blood as Raia’s only son, Paul Raia Jr is the principal at ENB’s Kokopo Secondary School.
Officially quitting at the end of this month, Raia is still on her toes making sure unfinished business is completed. Raia firmly believes she has achieved a milestone in her teaching profession.
“The children have put me to another level with their improved results especially in the past two years and this is overwhelming for me.”
She leaves with a good feeling that she has reactivated school properties and programmes that had been done away with.
“I urge upcoming teachers to love their jobs so they could be very effective in what they do. They must be visionary, dedicated in order to move up the ranks, committed, cooperative, submissive and responsive rather than reactive.”
Finally departing from her teaching career, Raia plans to become a businesswoman.
She is confident that with her experiences in running a school and her life, she is capable of running her own business effectively.