Teacher crisis looms

Main Stories, National

The National- Wednesday, January 19, 2011


THERE is a crisis looming for the Education Department with the 2011 school year just a fortnight away.

There are vacancies for 11,000 teachers nationwide and, with only 1,200 leaving teachers colleges to join the service, there would be a massive shortage of teaching staff, the PNG Teachers Association said yesterday.

Association general secretary Ugwalubu Mowana said that there had also been a huge flight of teachers from the service, with 1,700 teachers resigning last year.

He said rural-based schools would be the hardest hit as teachers preferred to teach in urban schools.

Mowana said the teaching services commission and the government must take responsibility for the flight of teachers and the plight of the education system.

He said most of them were leaving because of poor terms and conditions and the government’s careless attitudes towards the needs of the teachers.

He said the flight of teachers had to do with difficulties in transportation to and from schools, poor infrastructure including accommodation, high cost of living and long delays in processing payments for teachers.

Mowana said last year, 1,751 teachers resigned from the teaching service. This is 500 more than new graduating teachers.

He said the government’s universal basic education (UBE) initiative depended upon the availability of teachers and that the policy might have a still-birth unless this situation was arrested and soon.

Teachers faced tough conditions in some of the remotest parts of the country where, often, they were the only face of the government.

Often, they went without pay for up to six months at a time and when they arrived in towns to collect their pay, it would either be stolen or misplaced.

 “If government wants to see reform reach remote areas, they must improve teachers’ terms and conditions,” Mowana said.

A senior teaching services commission official agreed that there were insufficient teachers to fill current vacancies.

TSC commissioner Rose August said yesterday that most of the vacancies were located in remote parts of PNG.

According to August, about 43,000 teachers nationwide would know the status of their 2011 teaching posts soon.

She said postings were the responsibility of individual provincial education boards (PEB) which would inform its teachers at the end of last year.