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By Hilda Wayne

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 7, 1999 – The National)---Education reforms and the National Education Plan are aimed at promoting the use of Papua New Guinea's languages in the formal school system, Education, Research, Science and Technology Minister Professor John Waiko said here.

"The language policy for schools under the education reform curriculum is going to start making a significant contribution to literacy in our nation, both in English and, importantly, in our many Papua New Guinean languages," he said.

Dr. Waiko said his ministerial statement on the use of languages in schools is about to be circulated to all schools and authorities in the national education system.

This would improve the quality and relevance of children's learning and intellectual development and strengthen cultural bonding between children and the community, he said.

Dr. Waiko said that teachers must speak the same language as the children and the use of vernacular language will start from elementary prep to grade two.

He said that grade three is when children start to bridge to English in writing and reading and, by the end of grade 5, English becomes the main language of instruction. From upper grade six to grade eight students should be able to use English fluently. However, he added, a vernacular language can be used to explain difficult terms and concepts.

The community will be involved in curriculum development and material production as well as looking after the welfare of the school and teachers, Dr. Waiko said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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