Supporting Children’s Learning and Development in Papua New Guinea
Optimal child development is the shared responsibility of families, schools, community organisations and governments. Families are children’s first and most important teachers. Our research in Papua New Guinea (PNG) found that some parents feel that they cannot support their children’s learning because they did not attend school, or only attended for a short time or have low literacy skills. Families can support their children’s learning in everyday activities in and around the home regardless of their own education. Families can also encourage their children to attend school every day. Student absenteeism is one of many challenges in school education in PNG. Other issues include low levels of educational attainment and literacy levels, gender inequality and teacher absenteeism.
The Together for Education consortium project provides teacher training, community awareness and training, as well as parent and teacher resource provision. Teacher training for elementary teachers (Kindergarten to Year 2) in PNG is very limited (typically only six weeks) and teachers have usually only completed Year 10. Our training focuses on literacy, numeracy and inclusion. Other previous projects in this program have focused on children’s play and the creation of locally designed and built playgrounds using local materials. Play is an essential part of children’s learning and development, and its importance in children’s lives is acknowledged by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Article 31 (United Nations, 1989).
Current Project: Together for Education
The Together for Education (T4E) project aim is for girls and boys to have access to, and to complete, a quality elementary education focused on literacy and numeracy. The project aims to reach children, teachers, School Boards of Management (SBoM) and parents in three provinces of Papua New Guinea (PNG): Central, Madang and Morobe. The project is funded by the Australian Government, in partnership with the Government of PNG (GoPNG) under the PNG Partnership Fund (PPF) and was implemented during the 2018, 2019 and 2021 school years. Together for Education (T4E) is administered by a consortium led by World Vision in partnership with ChildFund, Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council (CIMC), Library For All (LFA) and the University of Canberra. The T4E project focuses on community and family engagement, teacher education and support, learning environment and materials, and knowledge sharing.
Community designed and built playgrounds using local materials
Playgrounds can provide rich environments where children can play and socialise. We developed two community playgrounds in Papua New Guinea and created a participatory model for playground development in the Pacific. Participatory models can bring about community ownership and long-term sustainability of projects. Projects can be undertaken by any committed group regardless of experience, provided they are willing to listen to children, teachers, and the community and take into consideration the resources available and features of the site. For example, resources from Playground Ideas are open access and easy to follow (www.playgroundideas.org).
Block Play in PNG
In this project we provided 70kg of donated Duplo from a media call-out in Canberra to five preschools and schools in Papua New Guinea. We compared the maths skills of children in three playschools who had access to the blocks for seven months with children from comparable schools who did not have access to blocks. Children who played with the blocks had stronger mathematical skills than those who did not. Greater access to block play could provide a feasible and affordable intervention to support early mathematical learning with potential to improve mathematical skills through primary school.
- Parenting playing cards and notes <Insert link to downloadable pdf >
- World Vision International. https://www.wvi.org/gallery/together-education
For further information on the Supporting Children’s Learning and Development in Papua New Guinea program of research, please contact Assoc Prof Kym Simoncini.