The fight for land rages in Papua New Guinea
Education in PNG: horror-child of Australian left ideology

Better education will tackle social issues in PNG

Joe Wasia detailJOE WASIA | Supported by the Bob Cleland Writing Fellowship

DO WE HAVE ANY COHERENT plans and strategies to combat tribal fights and other violent social unrest which are too common in Papua New Guinea?

I believe education would be a greatest tool to solve these issues in our country - and most of our people are really lacking an education.

The vast majority of Papua New Guineans, more than 70%, still live in rural areas where there is no proper education. As a result, we have an uneducated population with many social issues.

Tribal fights, as mentioned by Francis Nii in a recent article and similar social issues we discuss and read about at PNG Attitude and other media, are very common in much of PNG society where there is no proper education, health and other basic infrastructure.

Successive governments have neglected this vast majority, their focus diverted to the main centres of the country. And that was really unfair for the people.

Rural societies need support from the responsible authorities. The national, provincial and local level governments, NGOs, business houses, international agencies and organisations must support students and educated youths to conduct awareness in rural villages on pressing issues such as warfare, elections, HIV/AIDS, education, global warming, etc.

This will bring some change to community, provinces and country. The students and youths will be engaged so they can be advocates for social peace and order. As we know, young people have the potential to do harm or good and that is where a change for the better needs to start.

Government must invest more in human resource development. Establish schools, subsidise schooling, get more school age kids enrolled and provide more employment opportunities for the growing population.

I know education can play a greater role in maintaining peace and order in the societies throughout the country. Being educated doesn’t mean a bachelor’s degree; it means you do things well and think better than others. And that’s where change starts.

As a member of the educated elite in my society, I know I would not tolerate tribal fights or other social disorder in my society nor support perpetrators in any way.

I know that education has shaped the way I think and act. Education has changed me to be who I’m and given me a bright future. That's how it helps keep societies in order when change starts from an individual through education.

We can deploy armed security, police and even defence force to tribal areas to contain fights and social unrest but they will never solve the problem. Trouble will still erupt because people are uneducated.

As the great Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Yes, we can change Papua New Guinea through education.


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Koni Poiye

Simbu politicians and leaders are known for talking but not known for taking action.

When I attend graduations, public forums and other big occasions they speak about human resource development - saying that we don't have any other resources but only human resources.

Yet they don't look into the real needs of the schools such as libraries, computers and students meals in the mess.

The library is the power house of knowledge, while computers are the medium of technology to acquire knowledge, and good meals in the mess will result in good health.

Therefore I think that Simbu politicians must build decent libraries filled with the latest books, install standard computer labs and provide adequate meals for the students in secondary and high schools in Simbu.

Then we will produce quality human resources for the future of Simbu and PNG.

Koni Poiye

I am Koni Poiye from Simbu. I believe in education because education is the tool to change thesociety (Nelson Mandela).

The education system in our country is moving from bad to worse since independence. But thanks to the O'Neill government for implementing the free education policy.

I just want to state my opinion here that government must built a lot of classrooms, dormitories and teachers' houses to cater for the increase in enrolment.

Free education is the way forward.

Yamin Kogoya

Not just PNG, all the Melanesian countries are suffering from the destruction of our traditional worldviews and value systems.

Our defence mechanisms for our very own existence, that have been passed down through our generations, are being destroyed or destructed by the coming of the Europeans and Asians.

We are now experiencing the dark ages in this 21st century. Colliding worldviews, cultures, fashions, and lifestyles coincide with what is now cultural genocide. It is like taking the fresh water fish out and replacing them into salt water and expecting them to survive.

I am sorry to say this but it seem that all of us are going to just die out, some by force and others by disease and sickness and this is actually happening in West Papua right now. We are loosing too many young, good men and women.

We are struggling hard, as we move away from our traditional system, and also struggling hard to adopt the modern system.

The so called" modern government, constitution, democracy or Westminster’s justice system, are strange things that have been forced down on us and it is not working.

We need and want to return to our tradition way of life, but the force of the modernity and globalization is so strong that it is sucking us into some kind of scary hurricane and with that we are loosing our sense of direction.

Christianity is loosing its validity; the simple message of the Kingdom of Heaven demonstrated by the Jewish itinerant preacher Yeshua 2,000 years ago has now been hijacked by the Christian mafia both within the churches and in politics.

I see the darkness covering the whole island of New Guinea. I see the ancient people of Melanesian becoming slave in our own land.

But at the same time I see hope. This hope must start from you, I and us. It is an individual inner awakening and transformation that will give hope to this dying culture and disillusioned human race.

The salvation of the New Guinea Island starts from you, I and us. Time to start waking up now and we might see things a lot clearer.

In whatever shape or form of education that we are trying to promote, the education itself is not the issue here, but the real issue, is what type of education and what type of information that needs to be taught in that education system.

As an Indigenous Melanesian living in the Western world for so long, I think that the gigantic "self indulge ship" of Western civilization is sinking and the Asians are making the same mistake by jumping into this sinking ship.

How about us? Can we go back to our tradition or join this sinking ship or is there a middle (hybrid) way to save our people and land. That's the challenge.

Monica Jean George

No educated person can deny that. Education has to be the key factor, in the lack of understanding some of the critical aspects of life today.

Today many children are not educated because of reason unexplanable,upon the due to failures of one and many, should I be not so straightforward.

How could one talk about a bright changing PNG when one has never set eyes upon the very poor. Who will bring the service. Who?

I have seen what is remote and when this basic service is going. No man is an island.

Thyson Mack

Thanks Joe for the challenge. Yes, we all have roles to play in developing Papua New Guinea either through education, sports, etc.

Joe Wasia

Thanks for the nice comments.

While education is the most important tool that can be used to minimize most of the social issues in PNG, there are few other ways which most you have mentioned in your comments.

So where can we start? Can we continue reading and writing philosophy by philosophy and ideas by ideas? Or can we stop educating people because they will buy weapons etc..?

You, the PNGean reader to this site, must do something now or we will have no one to blame in the next 30 years. Well, pen is mightier than sword, action speaks louder than words on the other hand.

As Margaret Mead once said "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world" We can change PNG.

Why dont we practice what we write on PNG Attitude and most others websites, blogs and medias. Or are we continue to blame our leaders for not intervening in social issues like tribal fight etc?

Lets start small whether in education, family, church, etc and see how far we go in the next few decades.. One man can make difference and it can happen in your society.

Sophisticated philosophical terms and constructive articles doesn't mean anything at all if it is not put into practice.

Timothy Poroda

It is right that we need bright and intelligent elites to lead the society in positive manner that all of us will have the free will to move around without any social problems like the pick-pocketing issue.

Timothy Poroda

Good topic Mr Joe Wasia, I do agree with the title 'Better education will tackle social issues in PNG'.

I personnaly agree with you about this social issue in our societies. It seems like some village educated people are underestimating themselves, and that some of the top shot educated elites are also part of that problem.

Anyway, you also gave the percentage of about 70% who are living in rural areas with no proper education. I think and feel for them. It is the government's task to provide services to those people.

Bernard Yegiora

Well said Phil.

Social issues and problems are connected in so many ways

Phil Fitzpatrick

If you educate someone you also build up their expectations.

People with a good education expect to get a good job. Unfortunately there aren't currently enough good jobs to go around.

When an educated person's expectations are crushed they are in a position to protest in novel and new ways. An educated person without a job can make a very good criminal.

This has always been a problem in PNG. Without trying to sound like an old fart it was a problem before independence.

Educated people then who couldn't get work were unsatisfied with village life and drifted to the towns and caused all sorts of innovative problems. People who had done a few years in primary school and thought they were educated did the same thing. Among other things they filled up the squatter settlements around the towns.

If you are going to improve education services so more people become educated you also have to concurrently improve the job opportunities for them.

You can't have one without the other I'm afraid.

Jeff Febi

Education may not be the only thing that help solves our social issues but education is the thing this country needs in order to progress.

Education...quality education could potentially relieve us from the tentacles of our Melanesian Way's demons. So let us all support good quality education!

Robin Lillicrapp

At the very least, give the developing minds of today the tools with which to be creative and productive at any level of society.

That means tuning - up, not dumbing - down.

It also means running counter to the history makers who bestowed such a state of rottenness upon the nation's educational pathways.

Everyone deserves the right to be a reader, and thusly to partake of what is written, and to contribute to the body of knowledge.

Talsha Bannick

Maybe its right to say that education is the ideal key in solving all those social issues we have going on in the nation today.

However, that is not exactly true, history has shown that some of those taking part in corrupted behaviors are the highly educated elites.

We can be educated but the major issue here is attitude. Everything comes down to attitude, how can we work for the better if we had attitude problems. If we cant respect ourselves then we wont respect others.

Anyway,since education is of great importance today, the government should contribute a great deal to it. Instead of looking at sports and whatnot, it should upgrade the level of education in schools especially those in the remote areas.

The most targeted of largely illiterate are girls and women so it might be better if government organisation set up some foundations to help them. Since, they are also the target of abuse and violence.

Jocabeth Yuasi

If education is the key to social problems, the government should develop schools in both rural and urban centres. The majority of the population lives in rural areas.

Most schools in rural areas don't have enough facilities to cater for the people in that area and there is no help from the government. Due to this, some don't get educated to another level. Only a few people are further educated, but some who have the potential aren't.

The educated people of the nation should be role models for their villages. However this isn't the case.

Highly educated people buy weapons and encourage their tribesmen to engage in tribal warfare. Highly educated people take alchohol and behave like stupids in public places.

Educated people are involved in street fights. Does that paint a good picture to the uneducated population? I don't think so.

Where I live, social issues were extremely high, that is tribal wars, holdups and alchohol related issues.

Both educated and uneducated people were involved. Education did not make a difference. What reduced the social issues was a couple and they are teachers.

All they did was taking care of the uneducated people that were involved in social issues. Supporting them financially and advising them to change, to become someone of use in the village.

The couple's good deed changed the people and reduced social issues. So,there are other ways of reducing social issues and not just education.

Bernard Yegiora

In the beginning, I thought education was the answer to all our social problems.

But my exposure to the ideas of Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, Niccolo Machiavelli and other great philosophers have open my mind and warned me to be weary of human beings and our nature.

According to Marx and Hegel social issues and problems will continue to exist. If we find a solution then the problem will evolve and take a different form because the solutions are based on Western philosophy or they call it Hegalian-Marxist dialectics of Harmonization.

Any way, I will not bore you with dialectical philosophy.

Bernard Yegiora

Joe I like your idealism. It is common knowledge that teachers have that kind of influence on their students.

However, in reality we know and have seen that not all educated people contribute positively to society.

Education can change the world according to Mandela but the change can either be positive or negative.

Can education make an individual more moral? Will a university degree stop you from getting drunk and punching a person in the face? Will a degree stop you from helping your family to attack those who destroyed your garden?

Look at places like America, even though they have a highly educated population they still have a lot of social issues. Homelessness, gun related deaths, drugs, alcohol, people smuggling and so many more.

We have to understand human nature and the capabilities of a human being before we attempt to find a solution for social problems and issues.

Liklik tingting blo mi tasol.

Thank you.

Thyson Mack

If every one is educated there won’t be tribal fights or any social disorder or problems as mentioned by Joe.

Everyone knows what is good and what is bad for their society.

And that will result in reduction of the entire social problem in PNG.

Joe Wasia

Bernard - It very much depends on you and what you impart in them.

If your intention or the motive is different, then you will ruin the youngsters of your community. If you have a true heart and the concerns for the youngsters and the future of your community, the next generation, will be like you.

If you are an alcoholic, for example, your youngsters will follow you. Or if you have more marital affairs your juniors will do the same. And that’s where you impact your people and the future of your community.

Therefore, every contributors and readers of this site must at least do something practical. Yes, pen is mightier than sword but we can also practice what we write. I believe we can make difference.

Education is the most powerful weapon that can change the whole world as the great Mandela once said.

Bernard Yegiora

There is no guarantee that an educated person will be a better citizen.

Highly educated people buy weapons and encourage their tribesmen to engage in tribal warfare.

Educated people are sucking the country dry as we speak.

Thomas Hobbes says that man by nature are 'brutish' and 'egoistic'.

As someone from the higher education sector, I can do my best to educate my students as to what is right and what is wrong. However, the choice is in their hands.

Education whether formal though educational institutions or informal via the family or church is not the answer to social issues.

I like to say I have a solution but sadly I do not. A nightmare that all social scientist have.

Tony Flynn

I read in The Economist that about 10% of teachers in the US are incompetent; the teachers union is so powerful that they are shuffled around various schools.

Each school hopes to find a competent teacher in the next transfer.

What makes anyone believe that PNG is better than America in this respect.

In a previous comment I mentioned that headmasters are transferred around with no regard for their competence or honesty.

My adopted son never got to high school due to an incompetent and corrupt Deputy Headmaster. Despite the Headmaster making complaints written, phoned and verbal, the administration took no action.

I, with the School Board, forced the wriggling weakling to take well justified action (he really did wriggle).

The corrupt lazy teacher was then inflicted on a remote rural school. The said administrator was later seen to retire with great praise, no mention was made of the probable large number of students ruined by his maladministration.

The foreign educators coming to PNG these days do not want to have a conflicted existence, they will go with the flow; unless they wish to share in Dr Schram's experience.

Waimin Kaiam

Thanks Joe for the nice article. I believe education is the weapon that be can be used to chance Papua New Guinea.

Government must prioritise education if it wants to see PNG develop in the next 40 years.

Education is not a political football for politicians and political parties to be kicked around during election sessions nor as a political agenda to be included as one of their policies to be debated and lure votes in elections.

It must be a priority and has to come from the heart of the government.

Many successive governments over the last decades could have given priority to education just like the O’Neill government is doing.

Only Grand Chief Sir Peter Ipatas the Governor for Enga has put education on top of his priority list in his province for the last 18 years. Thumbs up to the Enga Governor.

Thank you to the O’Neill government in making education a priority for PNG this year and last year. We know as long your government is in place more people will be educated.

At the same time we play our individual role as detailed by Joe to get our youngsters know the importance of education and their social lives.

Mono Lewa

Joe, thumbs up for the great step you have taken to develop your youngsters. True that you have a heart for your people.

Yes, PNG needs people like you to develop the nation intellectually, economically and socially.

You have start it and i hope you will be on right tract. Keep doing well Joe.

Teckla Jacob

I like the quote by the great Mandela that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

PNG can change if education is first on its priority list.

Joe Wasia

I'm not convinced anyway. My statement was 'not all Papua New Guineans practice witchcraft and sorcery or sanguma'. And that still stands.

It was also a call on the government to review and amend the Sorcery Act of 1971 and support the police and court system in the country so that they can enforce them effectively without fear and favour.

Joe Wasia

Barbara - I really appreciate you for the nice comments. Yes, I believe in education as it’s a greatest tool that can do marvelous.

I have a heart for the young people and the future of my society up in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

In 2011, when I was at school, I started a 'Waimin Elites Development Association’; aim at directing the minds and hearts of the young people towards education and personal development.

The association is comprised of the students from elementary to tertiary institutions in the country. We have an elected executive body that runs this small association.

We don’t have graduated members accept myself as the president of the association. All of them are still in schools. Five of them are at universities - two will be doing second year and three in first year at the University of Papua New Guinea and two in teachers college.

We have many students doing grade eleven, twelve and lower grades. More kids enrolled at elementary schools this year.

Annual meetings are held on 23 December. We invite local pastors from all churches in the community to pray and inspire us with the word of God.

We also invite leaders as the village representatives who also encourage us on better social lives. We conclude meetings with food we prepare as refreshment.

A day after the meeting we do awareness in our village and then we go out to the nearby villages.

Education, tribal warfare, HIV/AIDS, local economic activities like growing and looking after coffee, pigs etc are some of the topics we discuss with the people. We have done two times so far and were very successful.

I believe, through this association, the society will have greater number of educated elites who will bring peace and order in the community in the future.

If we, as individuals and government or NGOs and so forth, invest more in education and social development in all societies in the country, I believe, in the next 10 to 20 years PNG will be a better place to live. Educated population means healthy nation.

Let’s start doing something right now whether at national, local or village level. Change has to start from where you are. And we can make a difference.

Don’t blame people for the escalating tribal warfare if you as an individual can’t do anything to educated and develop your own tribesmen, women and kids.

John Fowke

Well said, indeed, Joe. The Prize is withdrawn with my humble apology for this and any other derogatory spear I may have levelled at you.

Please see my piece in response - if KJ puts it up - and I hope that perhaps we might begin communicating direct.

Mrs Barbara Short

Well said, Joe. As a recent winner of Fowke's Ostrich Prize, you appear to be on the right track here.

Now you have to work out how you are going to "make it happen"!

The pen is mightier than the sword!

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