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Community Teacher Education in Papua New Guinea

Chapter 8 - Improving Teacher Education:  Contextual Realities

Chapter 8 - is from the complete text of Dennis McLaughlin and Tom O’Donoghue, Book:  Community Teacher Education in Papua New Guinea; August 1996. 133p. A4. ISBN 9980-84-066-8. K20. (overseasUS$20) * as approved for use by authors *


Throughout the chapters of this book it has been constantly emphasised that educational change must be appropriate for the contemporary Papua New Guinea context. It has been documented in chapter 6 that PNG has been the victim of inappropriate transnational knowledge transfer. This involves the exchange of theories, models and methods for academic or practical purposes among countries.

This chapter is concerned with this process in the education domain. In particular, it focuses on problems arising out of the uncritical transfer of educational ideas and practices to the developing world. Firstly, the increasing awareness of the need to take cognisance of cultural realities when transferring educational knowledge across international boundaries is outlined. Secondly, the crucial importance of overseas educational consultants adopting such a perspective is illustrated through a consideration of a variety of difficulties experienced over the last 25 years with educational projects in a particular part of the developing world, namely, the South Pacific island nations. Thirdly, a case study on teacher education in Papua New Guinea illustrates that it is a perspective which can still be neglected. The study focuses on the fact that the concept of the `reflective teacher', at present enjoying popularity in the literature on teacher education in the developed world, has been transferred to PNG to become a central notion in the country's new three year program for the pre-service education of community school teachers. The possible inappropriateness of such transfer at the present time is explored through an analysis of the competencies of college lecturers.


During the 19th century the process of transnational knowledge transfer in the education domain gained acceptance with educators travelling to other nations to see what they could learn to improve their own system (Fraser & Brickman, 1968). The Americans visited Europe in search of ways of improving American education. The British were also active in examining their neighbour's schools while the French studied the Prussian educational system. Furthermore, the European and American models of education were exported to colonial dependencies (Crossley, 1984). Moreover, the Japanese launched `the greatest of all hunting expeditions in this period' (Thut & Adams, 1964, p. 3), reconstructing their educational system along Western lines. The process of transnational knowledge transfer continued into the twentieth century. By the 1950s and 1960s the predominant model being adopted for such transfer between industrialised nations and developing nations was one of imitation and intervention; of attempting to solve problems in non-Western countries by applying Western knowledge (Kumar, 1979; Useem & Useem, 1980). However, during the 1970s, with the emergence of dependency theory, the rise of Third World consciousness and the increasing cultural awareness of some Western social scientists (Lee et al., 1988), this approach invited major criticism. The failure of many ambitious educational innovations made donors, lenders, recipients and borrowers sensitive to the complexity and context-dependence of educational change.

The literature on educational change, especially that written from the donors' and planners' perspective, has identified flexible, iterative and incremental strategies as well as the importance of culture, behaviour and values, and of the appropriate role of participatory, bottom-up processes and qualitative data in educational planning and evaluation (Rondinelli et al., 1990). However, the message is not being heeded. Teachers and lecturers are still being sent overseas by state and voluntary development agencies without being adequately prepared for the reality of the new education situation (O'Donoghue, 1991a, p.28). As a consequence, they often use curriculum and pedagogical proposals which, suitable for their own country, is inappropriate for a developing country. Also, developing world students at overseas' universities are often slotted into courses designed to meet the needs of the developed world with minimal consideration being given to the appropriateness of such courses for educational practice in the developing world.

This is not to ignore the fact that many of the developing countries have made efforts to transform the nature of education by developing learning programs based on local and national cultural foundations and by making schooling more relevant to the needs of the people and those of the national economy. However, the impact of Western influence upon the developing world is not automatically eradicated with the rejection of academic models of schooling (Crossley, 1984, p. 76). Crossley illustrates this by pointing out that while Marxist theory and the polytechnic education ideal were selected as the most appropriate `revolutionary' principles to underpin educational reform in nations such as Tanzania and Zimbabwe, the curricula which were built on such principles were unsuccessful largely because of failure to take cognisance of contextual factors. Mosha (1990, pp. 56-69) elaborates on this matter in his detailed explication of Tanzania's `Education for Self-Reliance' policy. In particular, he demonstrates that 20 years after their enunciation, the policy objectives were not realised, largely because attitudinal patterns within the national and institutional structure did not support the underlying philosophy. Recently, Crossley (1992, p. 25) and Crossley & Broadfoot (1993, p.16) have drawn attention to a new major concern, namely, the number of educationalists engaged in consultancies in the developing world without training in international education or relevant experience of the contexts in which they go to work yet encouraged by their universities which are seeking funds in an increasingly competitive higher education environment. Again, the argument is that the first step for any educationalist working in the developing world is to become thoroughly familiar with the physical and cultural environment.

The next section of this chapter illustrates the importance of adopting such an approach by demonstrating that over the last 25 years a variety of educational projects inspired by thinking most appropriate for `first world' situations have floundered in the South Pacific island nations largely because of the failure of expatriate education officers to adopt a critical perspective in attempts to transfer educational practices across international boundaries.


The history of curriculum and pedagogical innovations throughout the South Pacific island nations is one of many disappointments particularly in attempts to adopt apparently successful educational practices from developed countries. Papua New Guinea has had a large number of unsuccessful projects. These have been documented in chapter 6.

The other South Pacific island nations have had similar experiences. LeSourd (1990), has reported on a United Nations project begun in 1979 for the production of a social studies curriculum for nine of the nations and has demonstrated that what eventuated was incompatible with the contextual assumptions about learning; a consequence of the expatriate curriculum developers proceeding without undertaking a careful cultural analysis. Thaman (1991, p.4) has drawn attention to the problem in many of the nations of dealing "with new ideas enthusiastically championed by many education experts and consultants operating in, or passing through" the islands. In particular, it has been highlighted how a model of curriculum development lacking in cultural sensitivity has produced social studies curricula which emphasise individual achievement and competition while parents and teachers expect the school to emphasise social and moral training (Thaman, 1987).

There have also been problems where new curricula designed by overseas `experts' have emphasised teaching for understanding and have stressed pupil participation rather than didactic methods yet were not successful due to the fact that they ignored the need to engage in associated major in-service programs with the teachers. Mangubhai (1984, p.189) has noted that a situation of this nature was exacerbated in Fiji in the early 1980s because external examinations continued to dominate the educational system and teachers were reluctant to attempt new departures lest they might jeopardise pupils' chances of getting high scores. A similar experience has been recorded in Western Samoa. Here, attempts were made in the 1970s to fashion curricula more to fit the Samoan setting. However, by the early 1980s the bulk of the course of study ignored this perspective partly because the New Zealand examinations continued to be used as criteria for determining the success of students at the close of the secondary school stages (Thomas, 1984, p.227).

In considerations so far attention has been focused on a variety of initiatives which failed in the South Pacific island nations because of the overseeing educational consultants' lack of sensitivity towards social and cultural backgrounds when attempting to transplant ideas which they had brought with them from the developed world. However, vital as it is that this matter be addressed, it is not the only dimension of transnational curriculum knowledge transfer which should give cause for concern. Equally disconcerting is a tendency in the educational sector of some of the South Pacific nations to uncritically prescribe developments which already have proven to be inappropriate in other parts of the developing world. Countries like Western Samoa, Fiji and Solomon Islands, for example, in the belief that it is the persistence of white-collar aspirations by parents and pupils which accounts for many problems in education, have embarked on a reform of school structure and curricula to try to ensure that the curriculum will be `de-academicized' with a much stronger emphasis on vocational subjects (Throsby & Gannicott, 1990, p.39). In PNG, the National Department of Education's Curriculum Development Division appears to espouse such thinking (Deutrom, 1990, p.24). They are proposing similar initiatives (Avalos, 1992, pp. 311-16) even though the balance of international evidence suggests that such directions are suspect (Psacharopoulos & Woodhall, 1985, p.230; World Bank, 1980, p.33; 1988, p.64).

Another area of concern centres on the concept of the `reflective teacher' which is enjoying popularity in the literature on teacher education in the developed world. This concept has been `transferred' to become a central notion in the new three-year program of teacher education. This matter will now be discussed. In particular, the possible inappropriateness of such transfer at the present time with current resources will be explored through an analysis of the competencies of teachers' college lecturers.


PNG is currently in the process of reforming its educational system. These reforms are aimed at providing greater equity and social justice and, if implemented, will involve structural and curricular changes. Already a new 3-year community school teacher education program has been introduced to replace the previous 2-year program. This program places emphasis on promoting the general education of students as well as teacher education. A new stress is placed on subject matter content with the intention of promoting deep learning (Marton, Hounsell & Entwistle, 1984) .

Changes in teacher education are necessary in PNG. Community school teachers do not appear to speak English well enough to be able to teach the language effectively (Kenehe, 1981). Many teachers do not really understand all that they are teaching (Otto, 1989; Fife, 1993; Kian, 1996). Teachers generally fail to provide for individual differences (Avalos, 1989; Pearse et al., 1990), focusing on prescribed lesson detail rather than on pupils' needs. While the schools display a variety of working conditions and problems that require different, appropriate responses, most teachers are unable to analyse the situation, diagnose needs and develop relevant strategies to enhance the children's learning (McNamara, 1989, p.24).

In 1985 the government directed the Secretary of Education to investigate the most expeditious means of introducing a 3-year program into teachers' colleges. A Teacher Education Research Project (TERP) was established to generate background data and in 1989 a task force headed by an Australian academic (McNamara, 1989) was established to suggest appropriate cost-effective courses of action. The introduction of a 3-year program was a major outcome of this activity.

The Task Force wisely drew on the impressive data base produced by TERP in its many recommendations for the teacher education scene. However, it also proposed that the major thrust of the new 3-year program should be on the development of reflective teachers; a proposal which is not surprising given that the Task Force was chaired by an Australian educationalist and that it is a term enjoying great popularity in Australian teacher education (Martinez, 1990). This, in turn, can be traced back to the appearance of Schon's book, The Reflective Practitioner (1983).

During 1990, the National Education Board (NEB) established an Association of Teacher Education (ATE) to develop structures for a new 3-year program of teacher education. Each college had to design its course according to a set of guiding principles (Department of Education, 1990). A common theme was that there is a need to produce a reflective teacher. As a result, the terms `reflection' and `reflectivity' permeate the 3 year programs which each college submitted to the ATE and which were subsequently sanctioned (O'Donoghue, 1992). However, the meaning of the concept was unexplored.


The educational literature on ’reflection’ reveals that it is a term which has a great range of meanings and has been appropriated to serve any number of prevailing ideologies (McLaughlin & Hanifin, 1994). For some theorists the act of reflection has political implications (Zeichner, 1987). For others, its usefulness as a strategy derives from the fact of its value neutrality. What is disturbing is that because of its charm and power to inspire action, agreement on the meaning of reflectivity and implications for the development of programs for its promotion amongst student teachers is assumed, not won. Reflectivity has become a slogan prone to meaninglessness where it may serve comfortably as an aim for any and all types of programs (Bullough, 1989, p.15). At the same time, those who argue for the promotion of the reflective process amongst student-teachers seem to have some agreement on what it is to which they are opposed. In particular, there is a rejection of the apprenticeship model characterised by an accumulation of sameness and imitation in teaching (Mouton & Blake, 1984) and by the promotion of the student teacher into the logic of the existing social and educational climate. The apprenticeship model views student-teachers as passive learners and little is done to stimulate reflection. As a result, they learn to view teaching as being all about getting through a lesson in the ’correct’ manner and to view given curricula and methods as the upper and outer limits of what is possible (Tinning, 1985).

In some quarters the term ’reflection’ incorporates the concept of challenging the teacher's perception of the everyday reality as given, clearly defined and in need of no further verification beyond its simple presence (Zeichner, 1987). However, within the PNG situation, if this or any other position is what both the Task Force and the ATE had in mind when arguing that there was a need to produce more reflective community teachers, they did not make it clear and did not spell out in detail the means which might be deemed appropriate for its promotion. Again, this situation is not surprising since there is little agreement on such matters in the first-world literature as witnessed by the conflicting positions of the likes of Cruichshank (1985) and Gore (1987). The esoteric language of others (e.g. Smyth, 1987; Killen, 1989) also renders their positions obscure to teachers' college lecturers like those in PNG who speak English often as a third or a fourth language.

One might conclude that an unclear concept has been transferred to the PNG educational scene and the fact that it constitutes a central organiser in the new 3-year teacher education program invites further investigation of what is really meant. If one of the clearest positions on `reflection' had been adopted, namely, that of Van Manen (1977), it could well be an inappropriate concept at the present time in any discussion on the pre-service preparation of community school teachers in PNG as the following case study of the competencies of teachers' college lecturers tends to suggest.


Conceptual framework

Van Manen (1977), in his ’levels of reflectivity’ provides a helpful framework for examining the promotion of reflection by teachers' college lecturers with their students. He has identified three levels, each one of which describes different criteria for choosing among alternative courses of action. Level One is reflection at the level of `technical rationality'. The primary emphasis is on the efficient and effective application of educational knowledge for the purpose of attaining given ends. Reflection at this level is concerned with questioning the appropriateness of various courses of action in the classroom but does not inquire about the purposes of the action. Level Two is `practical reflection'. At this level what is involved is the clarification of the assumptions that are the basis of practical action. The interest is with the moral, ethical and value considerations in the educational enterprise. In engaging in reflection at this level the concern is with deciding the worth of competing educational goals and experiences, not just harnessing energies for their attainment. Level Three is the level of `critical reflection'. This level focuses on the way in which the goals and practices become systematically and ideologically distorted by structural forces and constraints at work in various aspects of society, including educational settings. Gender stereotyping is one such issue. The research was aimed at examining the manner in which and the extent to which lecturers in teachers' colleges are capable of promoting reflection at each of these levels.

Research methodology

The research took the form of lecture-room observations, observations on practice teaching and formal and informal discussions in three of the nine community school teachers' colleges. Two of the colleges were visited weekly throughout a 5-month period. A more intensive approach including participant observation was possible in the third college as the researcher was a member of the lecturing staff there.

Specific attributes of the lecturer and student interaction were not predetermined prior to college visits. The intent was to document the interactions as individual episodes and then to explore their complexities through analysis. However, there was an awareness that while TERP produced a wide range of very useful data it neglected to generate any data about college teaching. This awareness shaped the interpretation of events emerging from the experience of observer and out of it arose the question of the promotion of `reflection' in `the curriculum as received' in the colleges. It seems reasonable to assume that lecturer teaching behaviour in the three colleges in the study might represent the national scene since the teachers who are produced have up until now been similar (Avalos, 1989, p.104).


The development of technical rationality

The post-lesson conference during practice teaching has major potential for the development of technical rationality. This is not to deny that one of the main responsibilities of the practice teaching supervisor is "to communicate to student-teachers, verbally or through examples, information, ideas and practices related to their teaching needs" (Turney et al., 1982, p.83). It is also important that the supervisor be firm and authoritative in giving directions to student-teachers where the welfare of the pupil might be in danger or there is a tendency to violate school rules. Within such parameters, however, the supervisor can facilitate student-teachers' critical analysis of their teaching plans and practice teaching, thus encouraging them to be more autonomous in their decision making about their teaching and in accepting responsibility for their decisions.

In general, the practice teaching supervisors tend to feel most secure in a dominant and direct instructor role in post-lesson conferences and rarely adopt the role of collaborative colleagues studying teaching and exploring its problems. The conference normally takes place immediately after the lesson and lasts about 5 minutes. The following extract typifies the form it normally takes:

Lecturer:  Your demonstration was very well done and your directions were clear. Also, your discipline was friendly but firm. The children were very involved in their art work. However, take your time when you are talking. Even though you are speaking a language (English) that you know well, try to slow down the speed of your speech. Also the explanation of the story was not well done. You should have drawn a picture of the family on the chalkboard.

A notable feature of these conferences is the tendency on the part of the lecturer to `tell' the student what is right and wrong with his or her teaching and while questions such as: "You've got that?", "Have you got that?" and "Understand?" are used regularly, they are mainly availed of to maintain the flow of speech rather than as genuine probing questions. Lecturers seldom pause after such questions in an effort to promote student reflection.

In their lesson plans students are required to produce careful outlines, sometimes on pre-printed forms, which divide the lesson into small elements. The expectation is that these are not to be adapted or deviated from on the day. Both the lecturers and the students see the lesson in terms of its parts. Under the heading `motivation', for example, students are directed to write what they plan to do to motivate the children for the lesson. The students' interpretation of this is that some kind of gimmick or trick or fanciful short story is called for. Indeed, some lecturers promote this idea. It is a distinct part of the lesson to both parties and while they might be able to say that there should be a link between the motivational event and the actual lesson, it often does not appear to be the case in practice.

Lecturers in their conferences with students and in their written assessments of lessons generally make comments on the basis of students' performance in the separate sections of the lesson and students are cautioned for being 3 minutes over time or under time in a lesson and for deviating from the time planned for the various segments of the lesson. During staff meetings similar views as to what constitutes a lesson became evident. Lecturers complained that demonstration lessons taught in the demonstration schools attached to the colleges were not clearly structured and that `correct' amounts of time were not devoted to each section of the lesson. The expectation was that in every lesson one should clearly be able to see the `basic teaching skills' of `motivation', `reinforcement', `variability' and `questioning' being executed and that the demonstration teachers' sample lesson plans for these lessons should clearly indicate where in the lesson the example of each of the skills would be brought into play.

The preoccupation is with procedures and steps rather than with a holistic approach. One college attempted to break away from this orientation by giving students an opportunity in the early stages of Year One to teach whole lessons weekly in a non-threatening environment to help develop an overview of the teaching situation before progressing to the practice of individual teaching skills. However, lecturers became totally frustrated with this approach and sought a return to strict observation using detailed schedules. This attitude was symptomatic of a general failure on the part of many lecturers to re-adjust their thinking to the less intense approach of a 3 year program and to adopt a more reflective stance themselves.

It might be argued that so little conference time is available due to the high student-lecturer ratio that lecturers are displaying a correct order of priorities by concentrating on providing instruction. However, even in the written assessments of students' lessons there is an overwhelming preference for providing instruction. When written questions are posed for students they are usually aimed at reprimanding them as in the following examples:

1. L. Why did you miss your group activities?

2. L. Did you see all of the children's books when you went around supervising their work?

3. L. When you talk in the classroom do you talk to the chalkboard or to the children?

An understanding of the experience of shame for Papua New Guineans and the sense of failure that often follows (Epstein, 1984), especially as a result of the conveying of personal inadequacies through the medium of impersonal written comments, suggests that such an approach could be quite discouraging (McLaughlin, 1996a). Yet it is matter which appears to be dismissed by lecturers. In general, most of the information and ideas that are communicated are given as directives and very rarely is a series of alternative ideas or strategies presented from which to choose. As a result, there is little stimulation of creativity amongst the student-teachers and the promotion of self-analysis in their professional development appears to be confined to technical rationality.


In the lecturer-student interactions observed, situations frequently arose which held the potential for initiating student-teachers into the process of deciding the worth of competing goals and experiences rather than just harnessing energies for their attainment. A major strategy which could have been used is the questioning of assumptions. It is arguable that lecturers with a solid grasp of their subjects can promote such questioning. However, McNamara (1989, p.60) has noted that some lecturers do not have a formal education in their subject speciality that exceeds Grade Ten level. This was clearly borne out in a typical Social Science lecture on the topic of floods. An article with a photograph of flooding in Port Moresby was shown to students. After discussion the lecturer stated that floods also occurred overseas but they caused less damage. He said that one example was a flood in the Mississippi River about 20 years ago but gave no further information about it. He then pointed to the USA on a world map. Placing his finger across the map to show the river entering the Atlantic Ocean somewhere in the State of New York, he added that the Mississippi River was somewhere there too.

In general, the interest of the lecturers appears to be in student ability to formulate and demonstrate answers rather than generate critical questions. The `question and correct answer' exchange is favoured at the beginning and end of lectures, can go on for up to ten minutes and is common in all subjects. The following is the opening section from a lecture:

L. Yesterday we discussed what body system?

S. The digestive system.

L. What happens to food when it gets into your mouth?

S. It is chewed up.

L. What helps the food to be chewed up?

S. The teeth.

L. Anything else?

S. Saliva.

L. What does saliva contain?

S. Enzymes.

L. What are enzymes?

S. Chemicals that break down food.

L. Where do they come from?

S. The salivary glands.

Rarely are questions posed requiring lengthy responses and a high level of cognitive functioning. Furthermore, while extensive use during this section of lectures is made of plans, diagrams, pictures and paragraphs on the chalkboard, what is usually sought is simply naming and labelling.

Overall, students' cognitive abilities may well be hindered by some lecturers' inability and unwillingness to promote student-lecturer interactions. In particular, there is a great lack of usage of such strategies as `building on students' responses'. Also, while lecturers regularly check to see that students have heard what they are saying, student-initiated clarification is very rare and student creativity and spontaneous responses are discouraged by such remarks as:

L. Put your hand up. If you cannot put your hands up keep your mouth shut.

What is usually presented is factual. There is little explanation and questioning of the lecturer is rare. Indeed, lectures can be taken up almost totally with note-taking with the lecturer writing on the chalkboard and the students copying down without receiving an adequate explanation of the content.

Given this type of lecturing style, it is understandable that there appears to be little promotion of practical reflection. Yet there are many areas which hold potential for initiating students into this process. Within Education Studies, for example, each of the colleges in the study have a course entitled `Education in PNG'. However, what was observed was concerned simply with describing the reality of the existing situation. There was no questioning of the tendency to prescribe school curricula which are programmed to the extent that the lessons for each day of each week over the 6 years of schooling are largely pre-planned. Neither was there any questioning of the fact that schools are required to follow a rigid timetable with the weekly allocation of time to each subject and its constituent parts being nationally prescribed. The overall curriculum was also viewed as being unproblematic, yet this and other issues are the subject of much debate within the country. Deutrom (1990, p. 24) has commented on the controversial nature of such issues:

Over the years the system has accorded a hugely important role to achievement in English, Mathematics and Science ... none of these are basic to survival in the communities where most of our children will live. Those subjects which are basic to life in our communities are those which teach vocational skills and encourage social and spiritual development. At present these subjects are accorded a low status.

Such thinking, however, is rarely promoted in the colleges.

Overall, there is a great deal of ’telling’ in lectures and the tests set each five or six weeks on the work undertaken in all subject areas demand recall of what has been told. These tests are easy to construct and easy to mark. There is little real opportunity for students to think for themselves and to question what they have been told. Most students seem conditioned by previous schooling to expect information to be poured over them and there is very little attempt made to minimise this expectation.

The development of critical reflection

This aspect of reflection looks for opportunities for the uncovering of taken-for-granted assumptions in social practices and a willingness to consider alternative practices. Observations centred mainly on lectures in Social Science and Educational Studies as it is in these areas that hold the most potential for the development of such ’reflectivity'.

The teaching of Social Science is along the lines of that for other subjects. It is concerned with ’question and correct answer' exchange, there is an unwillingness to promote student-lecturer interactions and the level of cognitive functioning is low. Again, one is faced with the fact that lecturers, as they have readily admitted themselves (O'Toole, 1988, p.25; McLaughlin, 1988, p.7), have a great need for increased content knowledge of their teaching discipline. For most staff the highest level of qualification is that of Bachelor of Education. In view of this situation it is hardly surprising that Social Science lecturers do not utilise approaches which could contribute to the development of critical reflection amongst the students.

By concentrating on PNG, the South Pacific and South-East Asia in their lectures and not portraying totally contrasting environments they fail to rescue social life from being taken-for-granted. Also, there is no probing of assumptions underlying many of the concepts used. ’Europeans', for example, is the term which is constantly used by lecturers and students for white Caucasians and the impression is created and maintained that there is a homogeneous contemporary European culture which corresponds to the English-speaking American and Australian stereotypes portrayed in the media. Also, the historical dimension is greatly neglected and there are very few opportunities for students to enhance their awareness of their social reality through explorations of the diverse links between past and present. Pre-Independence life is portrayed as that of an indigenous people being totally dominated by the colonial powers. Furthermore, while students are given plenty of opportunities to express their diverse values and beliefs they are rarely encouraged to delve into the origins and interests which shaped them.

The Educational Studies lectures also held many opportunities for probing and questioning the socio-cultural reality within the education domain. The ’backwash effect’ of the Grade Six examinations which are used to select students for high schools is a case in point. So also is the unequal opportunity provided by the presence of high fee-paying ’international’ schools frequented by the PNG elite. The possible injustice of such a system has been a topic of much heated debate amongst academics and politicians but in the lectures on ’Education in PNG’ observed in this study the existence of the schools was not questioned. Other possible issues for debate suggest themselves. The official attitude of the PNG government to West Irianese refugees in Western Province and its lack of support for the education of their children was not once mentioned. The fact that community school and provincial high school students have to pay fees while those at third level institutions get free education is another neglected issue. [As of 1996 all students are required to pay fees. Hopefully this will be pursued in future lectures]. Overall, the educational system is presented as given and unproblematic.


The principal intention behind the move to a three year pre-service course in teachers' colleges in PNG has been to improve the quality of teacher education. The development of ’reflective’ teachers has been seen as a major ingredient of a quality approach. However, the analysis of the competencies of teachers' college lecturers in this case-study suggests that this may be yet another case of an inappropriate transfer to the developing world of a popular Western education concept.

In PNG, lecturers perceive students as passive recipients of information. This, to some extent, is due to the lecturers' lack of knowledge in their teaching area. Another factor is that lecturers may be dominating the lecture periods through constant talk to avoid giving students opportunities to draw them into debates where their inability to articulate English might become obvious.

All of this points to the fact that there is an urgent need to develop lecturers' content knowledge in their subjects, to improve the quality of their spoken English and to change their attitudes to teaching and learning. Accordingly, it seems reasonable to argue that the recent emphasis on ’reflective teaching’ in teacher education programs in PNG demonstrates once again the crucial importance of the need to take cognisance of contextual factors when transferring educational knowledge across international boundaries.

Chapter 1 - Teacher Education:  Its roots
Chapter 2 - Teacher Education:  The past
Chapter 3 - Teacher Education:  The Future
Chapter 4 - Teacher Education:  i. Pacific Perspectives
Chapter 5 - Improving Education:  Policy issues
Chapter 6 - Improving Teacher Education:  .i.  Pedagogical problems
Chapter 7 - Improving Teacher Education:  .i.  Political Intrigue
Chapter 8 - * here *
Chapter 9 - Improving Teacher Education:  .i.  Teacher Educators

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