Our children deserve the best in school


The equation here is simple: Quality teachers equals quality education.
You cannot get the best students to give you quality education or give you the evidence or testimony of quality education if you do not have well-trained teachers.
Teaching is one of the most complicated jobs today.
It demands broad knowledge of subject matter, curriculum, and standards; enthusiasm, a caring attitude, and a love of learning; knowledge of discipline and classroom management techniques; and a desire to make a difference in the lives of young people.
With all these qualities required, it’s no wonder that it’s hard to find great teachers.
Study after study shows that the single most important factor determining the quality of the education a child receives is the quality of his or her teacher.
The government is on the right track by investing in tuition-fee-free education.
The government has given to the children of Papua New Guinea access to education by creating more schools; primary schools into secondary schools as that is the way to accommodate accessibility.
Two things have since come up with the introduction of the tuition-fee-free policy – an increase in enrolment and overcrowding in classrooms, making the teacher-to-pupil ratio unmanageable, according to teachers and education experts.
The universal teacher to student ratio is about 1:35 in primary and secondary school and 1:25 for national high schools.
In reality, a teacher told The National that a teacher has between 60 and 80 students in
a classroom. That alone is stressful for both the teacher and students.
The number and distribution of teachers are important policy parameters helping to determine the quality of education. The pupil-teacher ratio is a commonly used indicator, which reflects the human resource capacity of education systems.
The education minister announced last week his intention to increase the number of teachers from 56,000 to 70,000 to cater for the increase in the number of students.
This means that more classrooms need to be built.
Before more teachers are employed schools should have the proper infrastructure, and teaching and learning materials in place.
Concerns with the poor quality of education is not confined to Papua New Guinea alone. It is an Asia-Pacific-wide problem.
A recent review of Education for All by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), noted that many children lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. Average student performances in reading and mathematics are near or below basic competency levels set by international standards and concerns are mounting over the perilous state of the quality of education.
While having enough teachers help education systems reach international goals, it is the effectiveness of teachers in the classroom which will deliver the Education for All promise.
Quality education produces good learning outcomes – and the initial training and preparation of teachers contribute to this aim.
In Papua New Guinea, it is important to assess the distribution of quality from an equity perspective to ensure that well-trained teachers are found across diverse schools and provinces.
Teacher quality encompasses a range of skills, competencies and motivation.
As common sense suggests, specific training is required in order to expect quality services from a teacher or any other skilled professional.
And to achieve that, funds must be made available for the teachers to upskill, otherwise it’s all just talk – and nothing else but talk.