Papua New Guinea: New trainings to improve school management during COVID-19

Seminars took place in Papua New Guinea to train the education community on disaster risk management and psychosocial support.

August 09, 2021 by Judith Reen, and Meggie Kua Dingi, UNICEF Papua New Guinea
3 minutes read
Teachers taking part to the training. Credit: UNICEF Papua New Guinea
Teachers taking part to the training.
UNICEF Papua New Guinea

Last April, following a nationwide lockdown and new restrictions established to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Papua New Guinea organized a unique ‘training of trainers’ seminar for guidance officers and inspectors of the National Department of Education (NDoE).

The first of its kind, this seminar was the result of a strong collaboration between NGOs and NDoE, which is fostered through the Education in Emergencies Response and Recovery Plan (EERRP) for COVID-19. The response plan is funded by both the Global Partnership for Education and the government of Australia.

UNICEF Papua New Guinea
A slide of a presentation done during the webinar.
UNICEF Papua New Guinea

A lively and interactive discussion

Teachers, inspectors, lecturers and guidance officers participated in the 3-day training seminar focused on disaster risk management and psychosocial support. Lessons from the seminar will be applied in over 2,000 schools.

Disaster risk management and strengthening school resilience during emergencies are key objectives of the response and recovery plan. Participants joined from ChildFund in Sydney, Australia, and from the NDoE.

Thanks to Spidertech, a digital solutions company, content from the seminar was simulcast from three separate rooms creating easier access to information while abiding by COVID-19 protocols. This set up allowed participants to be safely socially distanced while taking advantage of all the training resources.

Credit: UNICEF Papua New Guinea
A trainer and a trainee during the seminar.
UNICEF Papua New Guinea

Spidertech also recorded the seminar to capture crucial moments, which will be the basis of a short video that can used by trainers when hosting future seminars in other locations.

The materials provided to participants included a training guide, video content, and a booklet to guide school heads and management boards from all sectors to build a practical plan that is easy to follow. The school heads will be supported and encouraged to incorporate this plan into their School Learning and Improvement Plan (SLIP).

The importance of emotional support during emergencies

During emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic, children need a strong sense of emotional safety and routine. Lockdowns and increased fiscal strain due to COVID-19 have caused an increase in domestic and gender-based violence across the globe, and it’s the case also in Papua New Guinea.

Children often have little agency to protect themselves from emotional harm during emergencies. Unfortunately, counselling is not always available – a consequence particularly felt in rural and
remote regions.

Therefore, the Assistant Secretary from the Guidance and Counselling Division, along with Griffith University and ChildFund, offered a specific training seminar focused on helping vulnerable students.

Throughout the seminar, participants role played how to open, maintain and close supportive conversations with students in nurturing and solution-oriented ways. Information on managing serious disclosures and what needs to be referred to authorities were also included.

The support of an academic institution, an NGO with deep experience in this field, and the guidance of the Assistant Secretary contributed to the success of this training.

Materials included manuals for different age groups (6-11, 12-15, and 16+), that teachers or volunteer school counsellors can use for guided conversations with students.

Sample of the materials used for the training. Credit: UNICEF Papua New Guinea
Sample of the materials used for the training.
UNICEF Papua New Guinea

Both the disaster risk reduction and psychosocial support training will be rolled out within the target areas, which include three high-density urban areas: Lae, Madang and National Capital District. Remote areas in Western and Sandaun Province will also benefit from this training in the future.

Finally, a third training seminar was conducted to promote COVID-19 safe practices in schools. The Teacher Education Division delivered a basic training on the Nuipela Pasin; a one-hour training and discussion on keeping school heads, teachers and students safe by following basic hygiene protocols in schools.

This seminar is complementary to the Education Secretary’s guidance on school management during COVID-19, aiming to help operationalize this advice at a grass-roots level.

Sample of the materials used for the training. Credit: UNICEF Papua New Guinea
Sample of the materials used for the training.
UNICEF Papua New Guinea
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East Asia and Pacific: Papua New Guinea

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