The National, Friday 24th May 2013
IN the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was no such thing as being a public nuisance such as making loud noises after 10pm in the neighbourhood, consumption of alcohol and drunken behaviour in public places, urinating and carrying offensive weapons in public places.
The fathers of the 1970s and 1980s were brought up and taught by the colonial administrators how to behave, dress and conduct themselves in public places.
They were neatly attired and well groomed.
Christianity throughout the land was an agent of change pushed through by the Catholic church, Anglican church, Seventh-Day Adventist, United church and Lutheran church.
They strengthen the morals of good behaviour through the teachings of Christianity, further setting and emphasising the virtues of good social behaviour.
Just look at the photos of the 1970s and 1980s – the next wave of Papua New Guinean leaders who grew up from under the wings of these founding men and women leaders learned a lot from.
Sadly, these men and women were only a very small percentage of the total population.
Today, the next generation of people who have left their homes and villages and gone straight to school have not gone through the same process and teaching of good morals.
As the country pushed on from the 1980s to the 1990s and into the beginning of the digital era, the government of the day also responded to keep up with rapid development changes and trends of the 1990s and the new millennium just around the corner.
The government is putting up more government schools and the church-run schools are getting lesser, under-capitalised and not able to fully teach the new generation of Papua New Guineans what it did in the 1970s and 1980s.
It seemed as though we have forgotten about quality education and are putting more focus on quantity, in an attempt to get as much people as literate as possible.
And it seems we have left out an important component – how to behave.
One would have thought it was the foundation.
Today, we see school fights after school fights and a lot of violence and brutality.
It seems we have stepped inside a time machine and travelled back to the days of our prehistorical forefathers where head-hunting, sorcery, taking over land by war and force, stealing women, etc, are the norm.
So how do we get out from the hole we have dug ourselves into?
The mainstream churches that still remain in PNG after more than 100 years had a lot to do with changing us.
So why didn’t that change continue, strengthened and extended to the bulk of the population who did not go through this process?
Did we neglect them?
Did we rush that bulk of our countrymen and women from their old ways of doing things to the new modern age too quickly?
It would be good to let our emotions calm down amid the public outburst to implement the death penalty and other tougher laws on people who commit serious crimes.
Will it deter and control the new generation of Papua New Guineans growing up today?
We do not believe so.
This country needs to seriously look at restoring the good moral behaviours back into the education system – from primary right up to the secondary schools.
One of the ways to make this a reality is to give education back to the mainstream churches.
They know best how to do it and have done that to the first wave of new generation of PNG who have brought us to where we are today.
Certainly, we can bring back the old ways through the mainstream churches.
The government of the day needs to admit that making tougher laws will not solve the social behavioural problems of this country.
Let the churches once again become the main drivers of social behavioural changes for the future generations of Papua New Guineans.
Let them teach the new generation the right way to behave, the correct way to dress and how to respect and love one’s neighbour.
The government should stand back and support these churches by giving them much-needed funds to revitalise and let them run everything, not just a handful of schools.