Is the Education Department exploiting Elementary School Teachers?

By: Fr. JOHN M. GLYNN OL

The subject of this report is a female Elementary School teacher in a remote Central Province Village
Ms X teaches at the Elementary School in her village. This is fully registered Catholic Agency school. Total enrolment at the school is about 58 children ranging in age from 6 years to 8, with a few older.

Ms X has remained without being paid since 2010.

There is an Acting Teacher in Charge (TiC) who receives a salary. The real TiC is now a student at Teachers’ College and is still receiving his salary from the Department.
Ms X’s history:-

2010 Ms X was recruited to teach at the village Elementary School. She attended a six week course at Mirigeda near Loloata Island which qualified her to teach the Prep Grade. The cost of the course was K1,110. Ms X found a sponsor who paid this money for her. On completion of the course Ms X was instructed to complete a Resumption of Duty form so that she could be put on the payroll and receive a fortnightly salary. She did this but received no pay for all of the year. All her queries and appeals to her superiors and to Pay Section at FinCorp House were ignored.

2011 Ms X attended a second course to qualify her to teach at Elementary One (E1) level. The cost of the course was again K1,110 which was paid by Ms X’s sponsor. Ms X again filled in a Resumption of Duty form as she was instructed to do. Again she was not paid anything although she continued to teach faithfully for the full year. Her inquiries and appeals were again ignored.

2012 Ms X continued to teach. She was offered the third, E2, qualifying course but no longer had a sponsor to pay the fee so she did not do it. She filled in her Resumption of Duty form again but again received no pay for the year.

2013 Ms X taught for the full year, again completing her Resumption of Duty form but again was not paid and could get no help from anyone in the Department.
2014 Ms X found a sponsor and completed the E2 course which again cost K1,110. She completed her Resumption of Duty form but again was not paid and was denied any help or advice from the Department. She was now qualified to teach all three grades at Elementary level, but was not given a Certificate.

2015 Ms X continues to teach at her village school without any pay, although she has again filed her Resumption of Duty form. She has been offered a new course in teaching literacy through the phonics method. This course will cost K700.

In the past week Ms X has been trying again to get some help from anyone in the Department. Her Coordinator cannot help, neither can she get any help at the PNG Education Institute (PNGEI), and when she went to Pay Section at FinCorp House she was told that it would cost her K300 to process her paper work.

She has also been told the she and other newly qualified Elementary Teachers will shortly be given their Certificates at a special Graduation Ceremony to be held at PNGEI. However, this ceremony will cost the teachers K3,000 each, but graduation gowns will be provided at no further cost.
Ms X has been known to me personally for more than ten years. I accept all that she has told me as reflecting her experiences with the Department of Education. I am seeking to discover if there are other Elementary Teachers in remote schools who are being treated in the same manner. I intend to pursue the matter of Elementary Teachers being required to pay large sums of money to the Department while being denied a salary for themselves.