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An appeal to readers on behalf of PNG's disrespected teachers

Sharmilla Pisap
Sharmilla Pisap, a teacher who was paid just K7 last fortnight. You can assist her and others [see below]

LUCY KOPANA | My Land, My Country | Edited extract

LAE - Mrs Sharmilla Pisep is a teacher who has been serving for 31 years.

She is a mother of five and a single parent. Any student who has been taught by her, or come across her, knows how much of an active and committed teacher she is.

Sadly, she’s one of many teachers in Papua New Guinea who’ve been affected by the teachers’ pay cut problem. Last fortnight she was paid only K7.

She told me how much of a burden this is for her, and how it has greatly affected her family.

I thought of my mother, who spent 30 years teaching until she retired in 2007. Day in and day out, my siblings and I watched her being both a mother and a teacher to us and to her students.

She would sit up late working on her lesson plans and would still be the first to wake up the next day to go to school. Teachers are not paid overtime for the late night planning and marking, but they still show for work the next day.

I asked Mrs Pisep what she would do if she gets another pay cut down to just K7.

“If there is another pay cut, I don’t know what to do," she said. "Whether to go to the classroom or stay in the house. But then innocent school children will be suffering because it’s not their doing.”

If our committed teachers are passionate about teaching other people’s children, they shouldn’t be treated this way.

Elvina Ogil writes….

PNG teachers have had significant cuts to their salaries with some receiving as little as K7 ($2.96) in a fortnight's pay. Some have not been paid in months.

The PNG government has offered the usual obfuscatory excuses without actually improving teacher remuneration.

I’ve set up a crowd fund to help source some money to assist with these teachers’ living expenses and would appreciate if you could share this appeal with your readers and networks.

I’m in touch with prominent journalist Scott Waide and Bishop Donald Lippert OFM, Bishop of Mendi, who will disburse the funds.

Teachers in PNG work in tough conditions on low wages and with limited resources and assistance. All donations are welcome and appreciated.

You can donate here


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Daniel Doyle

Out of my 42 year involvement in education in PNG, 22 of which were in teacher education, I have a special place in my heart for PNG teachers.

To say that, by and large, teachers are posted and forgotten is not too much of an exaggeration. Not only has professional support declined - curriculum advisers, inspectors, in-service opportunities, inadequate teaching and learning materials - but the issue of correct payment of teacher salaries and leave fares has persisted since the foundation of the National Teaching Service in 1970.

I have nothing but respect and admiration for all those unsung heroes who can still be found in their classrooms doing their best to educate their pupils with virtually nil support.

Some years ago I came across an elementary teacher in a school just a few kilometers off the Markham Highway who hadn't been paid for three years! He was still teaching, supported by the community.

Such people are the heroes of the nation, yet we never hear of any awards going their way.

Lindsay F Bond

Add to the money-less misery, the hampers of housing maintenance and garden allocations, both of which (if sufficient) enable teachers to continue at turning up, on time, each day, bringing treats of digestible knowledge and leading respectfully for the nation's youngsters.

As Rashmii portrays the neglect of wage-earners in the tourism 'Trailing' industry, we await a writer (or several) who will canvass the plight of education's front line exemplars.

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