Invest in up-skilling teachers

Editorial

THE equation here is – 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 teacher.
The Government is on the right track; it is investing in education with the tuition fee free education.
The Government has given to the children of PNG 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 tuition fee free policy – increase in enrolment and overcrowding in classrooms making the teacher to pupil ratio become 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 teaches approximately 60 to 80 students in a classroom and that is 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, reflecting the human resource capacity of education systems.
The number of teachers should be increased and they should be paid to cater for the increase in the number of students.
This also means more classrooms have to be built.
If more teachers are to be employed, school infrastructure should be in place; school teaching materials in place; learning materials for children in place; and, dual infrastructure in the community are in place.
Concerns with the low quality of education is not only a PNG concern but that of the Asia-Pacific region.
A recent review of EFA (Education for All) done by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, to improve the quality of education, noted that many children lack the most 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 the sufficient number of teachers provides the opportunity to reach international goals on education, 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 PNG, 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.
To achieve that, funds should be made available for teachers’ up-skilling, otherwise it’s all just talk, talk and talk.

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