This article was written by Chelsea from Multicultural Kid Blogs, who is running a series of posts on different blogs about introducing the country of Papua New Guinea to children.
I have to start this off by saying this post is not actually about a truly “typical preschool” in Papua New Guinea. In Papua New Guinea, less than 20% of the population lives in urban areas, and as government school begins at age 7 very few children even attend preschool in the first place. Preschool is private and therefore a luxury.
In this post I will share my experiences of teaching at one grassroots preschool in a suburb of Port Moresby, the largest city in the country, with children who live in the settlement. It was started by my parents-in-law (expatriates from New Zealand and Samoa) who wanted to help the children who lived behind their house, who would otherwise have no access to education before beginning Grade 1.
The teachers themselves do not have much formal education (up to grade 6) but are passionate about giving the kids a better start to life. They have volunteered to teach for a very minimal wage and have been given a basic training for teaching by studying a book called Ruhi Book 3: Teaching Children’s Classes.
There are over 50 children enrolled in this school with between one and three teachers attending every day from 8:30am to 12 noon.
Every day the children start school by reciting the national anthem, the national pledge, and a prayer. Then they learn about a virtue, such as truthfulness or patience, and work on memorizing a quotation to help them remember the virtue.
After the morning assembly they may sing songs, learn the names of letters, animals, or foods, listen to oral stories, or play. When I was in PNG we talked a lot about how children under age 7 cannot sit for an hour at a time listening to the teacher but need to have hands-on activities.
Resources are extremely scarce (prone to be stolen and expensive in the first place) so “art” happens once a week as a treat, and may include drawing with markers, cutting, and/or gluing. It is very special.
Some chalkboards and chalk has been donated to the school, so these are often used for daily lessons. When books are available, they are very precious and the children can’t wait to get their hands on them.
Around 10:30am the children take a break to eat and spend a few moments outside. In Port Moresby fruit and other whole foods are very expensive, so mostly the children eat “biscuits” (cookies or crackers), or sometimes fried bread (kind of like doughnuts). During my time serving as a teacher at the school several of the children offered me portions of their meal in gratitude for my presence. This was one such offering, which was extremely generous as the children have very little to eat themselves.
After snack and another late morning session the children lay down for a nap. They do not have anything to lie down on – they simply rest on the wooden floor which the teachers sweep every day to keep clean.
Below you can watch a video I put together to show the “daily routine” at the school. Like I said at the beginning of the post, all schools are different. However this is just one example of what preschool can be like in Papua New Guinea.
I hope you had fun learning a bit about preschool in Papua New Guinea!
Check out the other posts which will give you some more background about the Papua New Guinea including pictures of children, facts about the country, music, a craft, a recipe, and some words in Tok Pisin.