Sydney Exchange builds on 200+ years of teaching experience in rural PNG

A group of nine elementary teacher trainers from remote areas of the Southern Highlands, Hela and Gulf Provinces in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have embarked on a 10-day professional learning exchange to Sydney to further develop their skills as educators. Collectively, the visiting group has an extraordinary 207 years teaching experience, including 82 years as trainers of their teaching counterparts. 

The exchange is an integral part of Teach for Tomorrow II (T4TII), a project delivered by Australian NGO KTF (Kokoda Track Foundation) that provides vital professional development, upskilling and ongoing support and mentoring to elementary teachers from remote and rural PNG.  

Over the past three years, KTF has partnered with the National Department of Education and PNG Education Institute to train 3,685 elementary teachers across 14 provinces. T4TII is the project’s next phase, delivering accessible and affordable in-service training for the nation’s elementary teachers that can be undertaken without interrupting schooling.

The exchange program is a vital part of T4TII, which employs a ‘train-the-trainer’ model to upskill teacher trainers in preparation for the in-service training requirements for all elementary teachers as PNG implements its new “1-6-6” structure of education.

 During their time in Sydney, trainers will undertake placements, workshops and intensive sessions with a range of stakeholders in Australia, being exposed to a range of new experiences, strategies and learnings for potential application in PNG. The third exchange undertaken once again sees KTF partnering with Western Sydney University; early childhood care chain, Big Fat Smile; the Sydney Story Factory and NSW Department of Education. 

 After the exchange, the trainers will return to their regions and are supported by KTF to deliver professional development and upskilling to the teachers under their care – in excess of 1,800 for this exchange cohort.

 The exchange provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take their training programs to the next level with a comprehensive overview of the education sector in Australia.

“Since KTF first partnered with the Hela Provincial division of education, they have been coming to PNG, over rough roads and difficult journeys” said Joanne Puname, Provincial Education Advisor of Hela Province. 

 “Now with this exchange program, it is a privilege for us to see where KTF is from and to learn from this experience. We will share our learnings with our teachers and develop wider pedagogical knowledge to take back to our Province. This is a real partnership. Not just the training, but understanding each other’s lives and bringing our families together.”

Recognising the importance of access to quality education across rural PNG, the exchange is made possible by ExxonMobil PNG, long-standing supporters of KTF’s education programs in the region.

 “Partnerships are critical to bringing different talents and solutions to addressing the challenges we face in supporting the delivery of education in our Project areas that most are in rural,” said Sisa Kini, Community Development and National Content Manager at ExxonMobil PNG. “This partnership with KTF over the years continues to inspire and innovate ways to improve capacity, knowledge and experience our change makers, our teachers need.”

 CEO of KTF, Dr Genevieve Nelson says the exchange, as part of the broader T4TII project, is vital to advance the quality of teaching and practice of the trainers by focusing on professional knowledge, practice and professional engagement. 

“Teacher upskilling and in-service is a critical requirement for the delivery of relevant, evidence-based teaching and learning; but it is most often the most remote regions – like Southern Highlands, Hela and Gulf - that miss out” says Dr Nelson. 

“We are delighted that this group, who collectively support an extraordinary 1,841 teachers, can be part of this career-defining learning experience.” 

Dr Nelson also confirmed KTF’s ongoing support of the PNG government’s education transition agenda. 

“T4TII is a precursor to the upcoming ‘Lahara’ Pilot program of formal, in-service teacher training for Elementary teachers to upgrade as Junior Primary teachers that we look forward to delivering in conjunction with the PNG Education Institute in a move towards new school structure.”

The Lahara Pilot, involving 200 exceptional educators from nine provinces across PNG commences in Port Moresby at the end of the 2019 academic year.

Mike Nelson