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Many rural schools still use local vernacular

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 27, 2009) – English will be taught as a subject in Papua New Guinea’s early education system or elementary level.

The elementary level, which is preparatory to grade two, was part of the education reforms in 1990s. Before that the elementary schools used vernacular languages in rural areas as the language of instruction. It varied in semi-urban schools while most urban schools stuck to English as being a language they spoke at home.

A bridging course was to be taught in grade 3 to help students begin to learn English, but many people have complained over the years that this system was not working. Many young people were not able to speak and write English because they were not being taught English in their early years of education.

"The language of instruction will be vernacular but English will be taught as a subject until grade three and it becomes a language of instruction all the way,’’ Education Secretary Dr Joseph Pagelio said.

He said this decision was made as part of revising and improving the reforms in education.

The teacher training and many other aspects of elementary as well as other levels of education were also being addressed.

Currently, new buildings were built at the PNG Education Institute to cater for a teacher training college for elementary teachers.

A similar college will be set up at Madang Teachers College for trainee elementary teachers in the Momase region. The teachers in the Highlands will be trained at either Daulo or Holy Trinity Teachers College. This will be decided soon.

Dr Pagelio said that the Education Department was working to improve the education system.

"In the old curriculum, the teacher stands and gives talks and the student follows so the student is not creative, so we are moving away from that type of education to where there is a greater involvement of student.

"The reforms is student centred,’’ he said.

Other issues such as school libraries and a need for teaching and student materials were also being dealt with in the department’s review of the process.

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