Papua New Guinea: New trainings lift standards in teaching math and science
October 20, 2022 by Lillian S. Keneqa, Save the Children Papua New Guinea, and Rachel Tarsan, Save the Children Papua New Guinea |
4 minutes read

Read how GPE is working with the government of Papua New Guinea and Save the Children to provide teachers with the trainings they need to improve students’ skills in math and science.

In 2021, a series of trainings for 827 teachers was held in 28 locations in 6 provinces where the GPE-funded Boosting Education Standards Together (BEST) PNG program is being implemented.

The trainings focused on improving student learning in math and science according to the standards-based curriculum (SBC) manuals for grades 3–5.

Based on the 2015 Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment reports (PILNA), the 6 most disadvantaged provinces with low performance rates were targeted. These were Gulf, Oro, Milne Bay, West New Britain, West Sepik, and Western provinces.

Teacher trainings were held to help improve the standards in these provinces. For example, in 2021, 29 teachers from 32 primary schools in the Biala district of West New Britain, and 31 teachers from 31 schools from Yeleyamba and Louisiade local level government (LLG) in Samarai Murua districts attended the weeklong junior primary math training held in Misima, Milne Bay.

The trainings were facilitated by the National Department of Education in partnership with Save the Children and the Provincial Division of Education in these 2 provinces.

Among the topics covered were blackboard management, lesson planning using the new math textbooks, and child safety. The goal is to move from an orientation towards outcomes to that of processes, and with this in mind, all lessons are child focused.

Lessons learned from the trainings

Two teachers from West New Britain and two from Milne Bay province shared what they had learned and how they think it would benefit their students.

Hildagard Mondo
Hildagard Mondo
Lillian Keneqa & Rachel Tarsan

Hildagard Kua Mondo, known to her students as Mrs. Mondo, is a senior teacher who oversees grade 3 and 4 teachers at Kapiura Primary School in West New Britain.

The training had a great impact on the way she will carry out her teaching duties.

“One new thing I’ve learned is how to use the blackboard more effectively. Before, each subject had its own section on the board. But now when we do math work, for example, we use the whole board,” she explains enthusiastically.

“I aim to help other teachers to improve standards,” Mrs. Mondo says, “Whatever we do for the province, at the very least we should move up from the 8th position.”

Group work on numeracy teaching in Misima, Milne Bay. Credit: Lillian Keneqa & Rachel Tarsan
Group work on numeracy teaching in Misima, Milne Bay.
Lillian Keneqa & Rachel Tarsan

Headmaster of Lolobau Primary School, Orim Palangat, oversees a school with 196 students and 6 teachers.

He says he encountered many weaknesses when implementing the outcomes-based curriculum (OBC), especially when it came to programming and planning.

“But with the training provided through the BEST program I am better equipped because the materials are all provided—the programming and lesson planning for the SBC, it’s all in there,” he says.

Mr. Palangat says he faces the challenge of working with limited math equipment, such as protractors and compasses.

“But, in the meantime, I will just have to make use of the little equipment I have to get the program running. Once all the materials are available, my teachers and I will be able to do even more to continue rolling out this new curriculum.”

After these trainings, the teachers train their colleagues at their respective schools.

Virginia Bwamede
Virginia Bwamede
Lillian Keneqa & Rachel Tarsan

Virginia Bwamede has taught for 35 years and is a senior teacher at Maho Primary School in one of the isolated areas of the maritime province. Along with other colleagues, she attended the training that was held in at Bagauya Primary School on Misima island.

Virginia says it was challenging to teach under the OBC whereas teaching using SBC is easier because there are manuals to teach from.

“Under OBC, we taught in our own way, as we thought best for the children. We had to look for various ways and means to teach the curriculum because the school is in a remote area without resources. This differs from SBC because whatever we need to teach is in the manuals,” she says.

She finds SBC easier in that it follows a sequence from one grade to the next, and the lessons are more interesting and connected. “OBC is not that good, but we tried our best to make up for the gaps.”

Alphonsus Michael Belio
Alphonsus Michael Belio
Lillian Keneqa & Rachel Tarsan

Alphonsus Michael Belio, a teacher at Jaru Primary School on Rossel Island in Milne Bay, has taught for over 9 years using OBC. He says OBC is not detailed enough since its main concern is to achieve outcomes, but he emphasized that SBC links knowledge from one strand to another.

He adds that he has also learned more about inclusive education and looks forward to putting it into practice.

“There are children with special needs in my school. This training has opened my eyes to how I can better support their learning.”

The teacher trainings were carried out with support from the BEST PNG program. BEST PNG is implemented by the National Department of Education, with Save the Children as the grant agent, in Oro, Milne Bay, Gulf, Western, West New Britain and West Sepik provinces.

Related blogs