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4 posts from June 2007

Another ASOPA credential

Ian Johnson is the assistant director of studies at the Nathan Campus of the Griffith English Language Institute. He’s also the son of Sir Leslie (Les) Johnson, as Director of Education a pioneering education administrator in TPNG and, of course, subsequently a distinguished Administrator of the Territory.

Ian studied at ASOPA in 1966-67 and taught in PNG. Recently, like many before him, he’s been attempting to locate an academic transcript of some kind that describes the units in our teacher training program.

By way of an unhelpful response, I mentioned to Ian that ASOPA’s defective record keeping was worsened in the seventies by a fire at the School that severely singed, if not toasted, many files.

Asopa_coursesThe records that remained when I was acting principal of ASOPA’s successor institution ITI 20 years ago, were incomplete. I think many had by then been sent to AIDAB, as it was, and are still there, or perhaps in the Australian Archives. Today’s organisation, AusAID, has never responded to my requests for information. But, as I said to Ian with pride, despite the implicit rebuff I continue to pay my taxes.

Well, discounting my bleak outlook, Ian persisted and came up with information that many of you will find interesting and some of you will find very useful. But first, three critical acronyms.

NEAS = National ELICOS Accreditation Scheme

ELICOS = English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students

TESOL Courses - Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages

Now you’re qualified to proceed.

NEAS has informed Ian that “the teacher training certificate you hold [i.e., the ASOPA certificate] is recognised by NEAS as equivalent to a first degree or diploma with ESL method. NEAS recognises that in the past teacher training consisted of a two or three year diploma plus teaching experience, and that this was government approved teacher training at that time. In summary, I can confirm that your teacher training certificate satisfies NEAS guidelines for a TESOL qualification.”

So congratulations all you ASOPA graduates, you have yet another academic credential.

By the way, Gough Whitlam said in 2002: “We had a lot of way to make up [in PNG education] and we were far too slow in doing these things. There are people like [John] Gunther and Les Johnson to whom I give very great credit for picking up the opportunity to use the teachers' training college to train the future governors, future leaders of PNG. And then at the universities. I tried to get the Hawke government to carry on national language, literacy for all, but they did not go ahead with it.” You see, Gough’s one of us!

[Image: Extract from 1962/63 Cadet Education Officers course handbook]

The Coodardie commitment

Savannahway Driving the Savannah Way is one of Australia’s least known and most adventurous outback journeys: a 3,500 km trek that starts from Queensland’s Gulf of Savannah, traversing the Northern Territory and winding up at the spectacular Cable Beach outside the legendary town of Broome in Western Australia.

The Savannah Way takes you through great national parks such as Kakadu and exotic bush townships like Borroloola. And it winds by Coodardie Brahman Stud, a couple of stubbies out of Mataranka. As Ben Dorries wrote in a recent article in the Brisbane Courier-Mail [‘Expect the unexpected on the Savannah Way’]: “It is worth stopping into a station stay, such as the Coodardie Brahman Stud near Mataranka, where the hosts will put on a terrific feed and make you feel like old friends rather than guests.”

Well, it just so happens that Coodardie Brahman Stud (motto: ‘living and working in harmony with nature – outback hospitality at its best’) is the literal stamping ground not only of the eponymous Brahman cattle but of hosts Rory, Moira and Clair O'Brien – the former an erstwhile ASOPA identity and, in a brief spectacular period, a chalkie in New Ireland.

There’s a lot of commitment to doing things right at Coodardie. Example, it supplies weaner steers to Taminmin High School near Darwin to encourage students to join the cattle industry. The kids break the bush steers to halter and present them for show and sale. Now could you do that?

Moira, who’s Coodardie stud director, says this helps give students a better understanding of the cattle industry. “We really enjoy helping them out and working in their program,” she says, “and I think it's really important (to) encourage young people and teach city people about agricultural life and cattle station working.”

And the results? “The kids are just so enthusiastic and passionate and really keen to learn about the animals, so it's a real credit to them, they have done well.” Sentiments of which any chalkie, extant or all dusted up, would be proud.

[Photo: Trekking the Savannah Way]

On the trail of Sergeant Major Arek

Jim Toner writes from Darwin: Christian Arek Arek was a Northern District policeman. As a constable, he took part in the first skirmish with the Japanese invaders at Buna in July 1942 and, in 1943, retrieved the remains of Lucian Tapedi, Anglican martyr, for Christian burial.

Ten years later, by now a bemedalled Sergeant-Major, he was in London marching with the RPNGC contingent in the Coronation parade. A half-century on, Christian’s daughter, Elizabeth, has written from Brisbane to say she seeks "a thin paperback book about the war heroes of PNG". She says: "Recalling slightly, there was one about a PNG woman who transported injured Australian soldiers in her canoe".

As mentioned in The Mail 111, in 2004 Eric Johns (ASOPA 1958-59) published Volume 1 of a history for use in PNG schools. He, Bill McGrath [ex-kiap, of the Pacific Bookhouse], David Wetherell [retired academic researcher into Eastern Papuan affairs], Max Harris [former police inspector and RPNGC historian] and Colonel Pears [ authority on the history of the Pacific Islands Regiment] have all been approached and, although some have a recollection of the book, it cannot be located.

The search is thrown open to all lapun chalkies who might have used or come across the book during their time in PNG schools. Please respond to Jim Toner at [email protected].

Luke Sela: rock of PNG journalism

Luke Sela died in Lorengau on Wednesday at the age of 64. It’s the second time this year that Papua New Guinea has lost a commanding media figure, Sam Piniau died just a couple of months ago, and the second time I’d lost a great mate. As I remarked to PNG Media Council boss, Justin Kili, who brought me the sad news, all our lives would be poorer if such people didn't stroll into them from time to time.

Luke Clement Sela OBE, was a Manus Islander who attained the heights of media influence in PNG and never once betrayed the cause of freedom and fairness. As a press statement from the Media Council said today: “Luke was the rock of PNG journalism, a man of great courage, determination and conviction to a free media in Papua New Guinea.”

Luke was editor of PNG’s main national daily, the Post-Courier, for 14 years from 1978 to 1992 and finally retired from the newspaper in 2000. To quote the Media Council again, “He laid the foundation for and set the benchmark for professional and fearless reporting of Papua New Guinea affairs by an independent media.”

“He never saw himself as a friend to those in power and neither did he consider himself to be their foe. His no-nonsense approach to reporting won him great admiration. Luke was always unapologetic for the views and stands he took on many national issues. He always did what he believed to be the best for his country.”

You can’t ask more of a journalist than that.