Learning and growth

Education, Normal

The National, Monday July 1st, 2013

 Commentary by DONALD GUMBIS

CHILDREN when taught appropriate skills will demonstrate the creative power of the mind to improvise. As the legendary Greek king, Alexander the Great, had said: “I am indebted to my parents for living but to my teacher for living well.” 

What Alexander is saying is that everyone owe their lives to their parents, for bring children into this world, looking after them when they were infants, their first steps, in times of sickness, health and nurturing and growth. 

On the other hand, teachers as professionals teach children and students at the different levels of education. 

From elementary, primary, secondary and tertiary education levels, teachers are responsible for imparting the essential knowledge and skills to their students. With teacher’s specialisation and training, the knowledge is passed onto their students. 

For instance, to be a teacher of History, a teacher receives training in history. To become a lawyer, one has to study law and the same can be said of engineers or carpenters. This goes to show the value of education – receiving an education that prepares everyone for greater promises in life. This particular student has developed this skill because the teacher has taught and instructed her. 

My point is not to demean or belittle parents. Parents are the first teachers and what we learn from them contribute greatly to our very being, our existence, our nurturing and maturing. Skills of life are very important and crucial for all of us. It is part of socialisation – how we relate to other people. Parents are the best teachers in all our upbringings.

I am optimistic that Papua New Guineans will see great potential in investing in education. When the country’s political leadership invests in developing its human resource, greater available potential will be unlocked. Although our country still have great disparities in illiteracy due to cultural diversities and remoteness, investments in training and developing human resource and capacity building will see greater progress.

The current predictions of the LNG-promoted economic growth will be enormous and require trained personnel, Papua New Guineans, to harness the development agendas for our country. 

The tertiary education sectors which include colleges, institutes and universities have trained the country’s manpower. The challenge now is for Papua New Guinea’s political leadership to create additional employment sector to absorb these personnel. 

Further, untapped lands for agriculture and agribusiness will be developed. We profess 9,000-plus years of land and crop cultivation, and yet we do not show much cause for cultivation on our own soils. We should now be willing to accept innovative farming techniques, land management, policies and investments in tertiary sector of growth. 

Let me return to the female student in the picture (left). 

In 15 years’ time, this student will be one of the many in the middle class, well educated, perhaps with a higher qualification and contributing to nation building. She will pay tax to the government, live and work in an urban setting, supporting her other siblings or extended family members and will rear her own family. And it all came about because of that teacher at Faniufa Primary School who gave her a small tin of paint and brush and instructed her to paint an old tire, creating a picturesque car park for visitors and parents or the travelling public along the Highlands Highway to look at the school yard and appreciate the creativity.

l Donald Gumbis is a lecturer at the University of Goroka