by Serah Aupong – EM TV, Port Moresby
The education language policy in Papua New Guinea has come under the microscope during a gathering of linguistic academics from PNG and around the world.
The academics discussed the social impacts of implementing an English only policy in schools.
An advocate of bilingual and multilingual education is Professor, Nick Faraclas, from the University of Puerto Rico.
During his teaching years, he spent some years at the University of PNG and was around when the initial discussions of the education reform was discussed.
He said while he supported the principles behind the education reform, however, he did not agree with how it was going to be implemented, as he says it took power and control away from communities, parents and the children themselves over their education.
He says for those who are worried that children will not be able to learn English through a tokples education, have it wrong.
“When children learn in their own tokples first, they learn from a position of strength and from there, they are able to learn English better.
It goes in line with education’s basic principle which is to teach children from a known position and introduce them to an unknown concept.”
This, he says, does not happen when an English only approach is taken as children are being taught an unknown concept using an unknown language.
Associate Professor, Patricia Paraide, says she is a product of a vernacular education and it has not impeded her education journey.
She has long been an education researchers and lecturer. She was also part of the education reforms Facilitating and Monitoring unit and says the poor results from this reform is a result of lack of funding.
“Teachers were not taught to teach in multilingual or bilingual. They were taught to teach in English so they were not able to effectively implement the policy.”
Both academics believe that PNG has not fully reaped the full benefits of a vernacular based education and hopes that the government will consider options that incorporate this in early education in the country.