BRISBANE - Clarrie Burke, known to many former educators and senior public servants in Papua New Guinea during the 1960s and 1970s, died in Brisbane on Sunday. He had incurable cancer.
Clarrie was born in Port Moresby, his family evacuated to Australia shortly after the Japanese invasion of PNG in 1942.
The family settled in Brisbane but later moved back to Samarai. Clarrie and his brother Eddie completed their primary and secondary education as boarders in Brisbane and Toowoomba.
In 1957, Clarrie worked as a clerk at the District Education Office in Port Moresby and the following year he took up a two-year education cadetship at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) in Sydney to train as a primary teacher.
His postings as a teacher were to Lae and then Port Moresby as headmaster of the well-known and highly regarded Hohola Demonstration school.
Clarrie later was appointed principal of the Education In-Service College which had the formidable task of upgrading teachers’ credentials and identifying high level training for senior PNG administrators in the lead-up to independence.
He mentored and guided many of PNG’s early administrators.
It was during his first posting as headmaster, in 1963, that he met and married his late wife Gail who was a Grade 6 teacher at the school.
In 1974 Clarrie gained his PhD in the philosophy and psychology of education from the University of Michigan in the United States.
After independence in 1975, he was awarded the Independence Medal for his services to education.
Following independence, Clarrie returned to Australia and became a senior lecturer in teacher education at Brisbane College of Advanced Education where he was later appointed head of education studies.
His final appointment before retiring in 1998 was as associate professor and director of the Research Centre for Leadership and Policy Studies in Education at Queensland University of Technology.
After his retirement Clarrie was a tireless activist in the field of human rights and he was published widely online and in influential publications. He was also a long-time supporter and committee member of Amnesty International.
Clarrie’s humanity, kindness and wisdom will be greatly missed by his friends. He was a true gentleman and role-model to all who knew him.
Vale Clarrie Burke.