PNG Teachers Warned Not To Be Absent From Class

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Parents reportedly concerned with high teacher absenteeism

By Miriam Malawa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 15, 2013) – The Teaching Service Commission (TSC) is warning teachers in government schools throughout Papua New Guinea not to skip classes without valid reasons.

Commission chairman Baran Sori said head teachers and school inspectors should report teachers’ absenteeism to the provincial education authorities.

He was responding to claims by parents in the National Capital District about the high rate of absenteeism of teachers in government primary schools.

Sori said yesterday the commission was decentralised to provinces to look after matters relating to the welfare and employment of teachers.

He said because there were many schools throughout the country, the commission had delegated powers and functions to the provincial authorities so that procedures were closely monitored and reported back to TSC.

Several parents of students at a government primary school in Gerehu raised their concern last weekend and claimed the school’s management was ignoring the issue.

Another concerned parent emailed The National yesterday, saying: "I am a concerned parent and worried about my children who attend Kila Kila Community/Elementary School. In a week, two days the teacher is present and three days – no teacher.

"Children play around all day or are sent home because there is no backup teacher, which means most teachers at Kila Kila Community School and Kila Kila Elementary School do not take their jobs seriously and have punctuality and attendance problems.

"The end result is the children being not taught well to further their education and problems of unemployment and crime continues.

"The question is – Is this what you get for free education?"

Sori said teachers were not supposed to skip classes as they were paid to stay in the classroom and teach students.

"There are mechanisms in place to handle such issues. However, if they are not working, then we will check to see if enough standard officers are visiting schools," he said.

He said it was a serious issue and parents must take responsibility as well.

"It’s a big task for authorities and parents as schools are community-based and every one must take an interest," he said.

Sori said parents must take up such matters to head teachers who should report them to the provincial education authorities, who would then report to the commission so that necessary action could be taken.

He said the process in place was not being followed and urged teachers to get approval from head teachers if they were to be absent.

Acting Education Secretary Dr. Michael Tapo said the department would find out from the national and provincial education boards about teacher absenteeism so that they would inform the commission to carry out an investigation into the matter.

"All parents have the right to report matters of teacher’s ill behaviour," he said.

Tapo urged parents to report such issues to the school boards for further investigations.

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