By ZACHERY PER
A FTER spending 47 years inside the classroom educating hundreds of children, Ungai-mountain top man Philip Avuti is putting down his pen, ruler and chalk – so to speak.
He is one of 52 teachers in Eastern Highlands on the compulsory retirement list as they have reached 60 years of age.
His colleague, head teacher Tony Koyangko, who has spent 43 years as a teacher, is also bowing out.
Their last posting was at the West Goroka Primary School where they were farewelled by students, teachers and parents after a combined 90 years of teaching.
Philip’s farewell gift was a spear from the highlands.
He is from Yauna village in the Ungai mountain of the Ungai-Bena district.
Philip was trained to be a teacher in 1973 at the Port Moresby In-service College after a stint at the University of PNG in 1972.
He first taught in schools in Western Highlands and Enga.Philp met his wife Helen while he was teaching in Enga.
They have five children – two boys and three girls.
Two of his children have followed him into the teaching profession and are now secondary school teachers.
A second son is a policeman in Madang. One of his three daughters is working in the finance section of the Education Department.
In the latter part of his career, Philp returned to his home province of Eastern Highlands and taught in many schools there.
He gradually made his way up the ranks to become a head teacher.
Apart from classroom work, he was very much involved in managing schools such as North Goroka Primary and West Goroka where he was deputy to head teacher Koyangko.
Retiring teacher Philip Avuti is given a spear to as a gift for his services to the Education Department.
It was the last school they taught in together,
He also represented teachers as the Eastern Highlands branch president of the PNG Teachers Association. He fought hard to secure teachers’ entitlements such as leave fares.He even led industrial action not only at provincial level but also regional and national levels too.Philip lives with his family at Fimito village on the far western end of Goroka town.He believes he has done all he could to make better and responsible citizens out of the hundreds of children who came through the doors of his classroom.
It has been a long 47 years and it is time to go home and enjoy more time with his family.
The Ungai Mountain too beckons, relaying a message to Philip that he deserves a break from the hustle and bustle of life in a classroom environment.
It’s time to put the pens down, relax and enjoy life.
“I am satisfied after offering a distinguished teaching service to groom the future leaders of this wonderful country.”