Friday, 21 December 2012

Working Hard for the Money

 Approximately 80% of people in PNG live in rural areas. Many of these people are not formally employed and are classified as ‘subsistence farmers’. In fact, I’ve noticed that at schools, even the weakest students whose English is neither polished nor confident have no trouble telling me that their father is a ‘subsistence farmer’, a term that many young Australians would not be familiar with, but that everyone here knows.

Of the many people who work on their own land, some of them are unable to obtain formal employment due to a lack of education (around half of the population is estimated to be functionally illiterate), others because of a lack of job opportunity and probably others, by choice. A lack of formal employment does not mean however that people have no access to the cash economy. From my time in PNG, I have seen countless examples of people’s ingenuity in finding ways to make money, which of course is crucial if they are to pay medical expenses, put their kids though school, and travel into town.  

Perhaps the most common (to my knowledge) way of making a bit of kina, is to sell produce at the market. For some people, this means selling their surplus fruit and veg, but for others, this means selling icy poles, packed lunches (wrapped in banana leaves) salted fish, shell jewellery, woven baskets, betel nut (for chewing), meri blouses or plants. Many people (mostly women) sell their goods at the main market in Kokopo, but there are countless impromptu markets and roadside stalls all over the province. Basically, if there is a gathering of people for any reason, a stall will emerge and someone will be selling snacks (boiled peanuts and cucumbers which people eat as if they were bananas) and refreshments (young coconut or ‘kulau’).
The wonderful Jess, doing the coconut drive though.
A more official looking stall at the East New Britain mask festival.
Women making meri blouses, shell money strands and woven baskets - for sale at the market.

Sometimes around these stalls, there will be someone sitting down, usually under the shade of a big umbrella with one mobile phone, a pen and some paper. At first, I was very perplexed as to what such a person could possibly be doing but later understood that they have put lots of digicel credit on their phone and are selling it. Customers can come up, ask for 2 kina of credit to be transferred to their phone, and the seller will do it, but perhaps charge 2 kina 20 toea and in this way make a profit. There’s a market for this as sometimes people are either too far away from a shop that will sell them credit at the flat rate, or they only have a couple of kina to spare and they can’t buy credit from a shop in such a small denomination. I’ve also met some teachers who have an on-the-side phone credit business. They come into town for work, stock up on credit on payday, and then slowly sell it at a higher rate in their village when they go back over the weekend.

When travelling around the province, in addition to seeing countless woven and thatched roadside shops, it’s not uncommon to see young men and sometimes young boys, filling up potholes with dirt. Some of the roads in ENB are an appalling potholed mess as humidity, earthquakes, torrential rain, poor planning and infrequent maintenance take their toll. (There’s one stretch that my friend refers to as the Grand Canyon.) Of course, a pothole filled with dirt is only good until the next big down pour but many motorists, grateful for a smoother ride today will slow down and hand over some toea for the efforts of these young men, doing what must be incredibly hot and exhausting work.

There is also a little bit of money to be made in tourism, but here I don’t meant the official kind where you work at a hotel or take people on guided tours (though that certainly happens too). Some people’s villages/land happens to contain things which are now of historical interest, such as a crashed fighter plane from World War II or a barge tunnel, built by Japanese soldiers in WWII. Usually, if you visit these sites, you pay the landowners 5 kina per person. In my view, it’s very reasonable to pay people whose homes you are intruding on for the sake of curiosity, and also good if people who suffered in the war can now benefit in some small way from the remnants of that war. I also think that 5 kina ($2.50 Australian) per person is not going to break the bank for tourists, though I’ve noticed that while this system can work quite well on the land, it can get a bit problematic for dive sites.

One of the barge tunnels.
In PNG, people don’t just own the land (97% of the land is under customary ownership), they own the sea around their land too. Fair enough, but how do you know where your bit of the sea extends to? I imagine it may not have mattered that much when people could only go so far in a dugout canoe and only wanted to take what their families could consume, but now, with motorboats and people wanting access for things like diving, it’s a different story.

Inside the tunnel (these are made man tunnels).
The remnants of a war plane.

When we were recently in New Ireland Province, the dive company we were with seemed to have a great relationship with the surrounding villages who they pay (to take tourists to dive their reefs) and from whom they buy seafood, fruit and vegetables (to feed the tourists). However, there were a few places that I was really keen to dive, that we couldn’t go to because of ‘land ownership issues’. At first I assumed the issue was between the company and the landowners, but it turns out that it’s between competing landowners. They can’t agree on who owns the channel and who should collect the money. Such a shame when you think that divers (with responsible companies) don’t damage the reef at all and aren’t removing any resources so it’s a great way for remote places to make some money without losing anything or even having to do anything to the site. At the moment though, they aren’t making any money at all as the company (sensibly) won’t dive there until they sort it out.

Lastly for this entry, comes my favourite way of making money for some people in Kokopo and this, dear reader (if you are from my homeland Australia), comes directly from your own forgetfulness and/or carelessness. I am also happy to report that lately, I’ve been playing a very active role in this successful money gathering enterprise.

In Kokopo, there is a big warehouse sized second-hand clothing store called ‘Labels’. Geoff and I are big fans of Labels and recent acquisitions include a pure silk, charcoal coloured Saba dress, a crisp, white, seemingly unworn Armani shirt and a Sass & Bide angora cardigan all of which collectively set me back about one Australian dollar (I know, you’re now thinking you might be willing to brave the gangs of unruly raskols and come to PNG for a shot at Labels gold). Anyhow, all these clothes come from donations (I think through the Smith Family) from Australia and it means that local people can buy good quality clothing for a tiny sum (stop judging me, coastal Papua New Guineans have no need for that Angora cardigan it’s 32 degrees everyday I tell you!).  So how does ingenious money making come into play?

When I first went to Labels, with my friend Hannah, I saw a staff member approach her and I then saw her give him some money. It struck me as odd because people in PNG, no matter how poor, do not, in general, ask others for money. She later explained to me that he had a few Australian coins and she had changed them for him into kina. The same request was later made to me from another staff member of Labels. This has happened to me often in Labels, but only in Labels and to be honest, I didn’t, initially, give it much thought. Finally, one day I started wondering where they were getting all these coins from and I had a chat to one of the guys who works there. Of course, they are finding coins (and sometimes notes) in the pockets of the clothes that come in! Sometimes people ask me to change 20 Australian dollars (all in coins) for them and I always do if I have the right money on me. (I’ll be travelling home with kilos of coins!)

The amounts they have are too small for the bank to want to deal with, and of course the bank will charge them a fee (you’ll be happy to know that I give a very reasonable rate as a money changer J). The Labels’ staff are very trusting with my calculations (one of them thought that the 2 dollar coin was worth less than the 1 because it’s smaller – a reasonable assumption that could have got them ripped off). Recently, the staff at Labels found a 50 dollar note - that’s 100 kina and that’s, well, a sh#t load of Armani shirts in this town. No one ever asks Geoff to be their money changer (cause they think he’s Chinese or Japanese, even though when I run out of Kina I tell them to go and ask him and that he’s an Australian) but recently, as word has got around that the lady with the orange hair and the funny pidgin will count out and change your Aussie coins, I sometimes have 5 people come over and hold out their hand and ask me to change money for them. I can usually only change money for the first few I see which leads to a race to the door when I enter.

It’s amazing to think that someone in PNG might be wearing those jeans you bought on sale and only wore once and that they also might have bought some rice for their family with the coins you accidently left in the back pocket. Or, for that matter, that I’ll be travelling back to Australia and joyfully buying my first latte in a long while with some coins that I myself may have lost, which somehow found their way back to me via a Papua New Guinean with whom I made an exchange. OK, I know I’ve gone a bit off topic, but who’s with me? The world is an amazing, interconnected place.

So yeah, opportunities to get your hands on some kina, however hard you’re willing to work, can be tough sometimes over here. It’s a shame because as you can see, there is no shortage of entrepreneurial people willing to work and in need of some cash. I’m sure that are many other clever ways that people make money informally in PNG and I’d love to hear about them if anyone out there knows of some that I haven’t mentioned. I’ve actually heard of people holding village movie nights (everyone sitting around one laptop) and being charging admission but I’ve not experienced this myself.  As Christmas approaches, sadly some people find less honourable ways to make a buck and I’m told that crime increases across PNG in December. Well, that might have to be the next blog entry topic. Crime in PNG – it’s not like anyone’s written about that before! I’ll see if I can say anything of interest. Until then, lukim yu, and if you ever donate used clothes, do the charitable thing and don’t check the pockets beforehand :)  

Saturday, 3 November 2012

I Just Called to Say ‘Who are You?'

 ‘Yu tok’ is how you answer the phone in pidgin. I like that you give permission to the person who just interrupted you, to speak. It seems very authoritative - give it a try sometime :)  
In this entry, I’d like to give you a little snapshot of how one aspect of the modern world settles in to a place where many people are subsistence famers, still practice customs that have been handed down for countless generations and have never heard of youtube. I’d like to talk about how mobile phones are used and indeed embraced in PNG.

If you’re like me (I’m 32) you aint no spring chicken but you’re not entirely over the hill either (yep, that’s what I’m telling myself). Your parents were young in the 60’s. They had home phones, television, and The Beatles and they watched as man landed on the moon. They lived with the threat of a nuclear war. In the same decade, there were whole communities of people in PNG who had never seen someone outside of their own cultural group. They’d never seen a pasty white person or even the ocean. Amazing. I have one colleague here who is also around my parents’ age (actually a little younger) who grew up in a village where electricity was unheard of and who remembers that the first time she ever touched a computer was 2006. This same woman is now a confident and competent user of things like powerpoint and gmail. Also amazing.

PNG is a diverse country. It’s something which is said over here often cause it’s true. It’s usually said in relation to the hundreds of languages and cultures which co-exist, but it could also be said about the population’s exposure to countries and cultures outside of PNG and familiarity with modern technology. Some peoples, especially in coastal areas such as East New Britain where I live, have been exposed to missionaries and trade ships for a few hundred years. They’ve also seen Germans, Brits, Australians and Japanese come and go (and wreak havoc) and therefore have a recent history of relations with external ideas and influences. Yet even within East New Britain, tradition and modernity blend and at times clash in spectacular ways which I find quite fascinating. To be honest, the same was true (albeit in a very different way) in Japan and it’s still something which draws me in.

The most obvious nod to modern ways in PNG is the mobile phone. Here, like in Australia, it seems that everyone has a mobile. The largest provider is a company called Digicel and the coverage they provide, even in pretty remote areas seems impressive. In many ways, the system here is a big improvement on what I’m used to. Everyone has a pre-paid phone (and pre-paid power and water) and you buy little credit coupons from the supermarket which have a code on the back. You just plug the number into your phone and it’s done. In Australia, with Vodaphone at least, you have to ring a number and listen to crappy advertising messages to do the same thing. In PNG, you can also transfer your phone credit to your power or water meter. Genius.

Also, Digicel has a system where people can, for free, send texts to others on the same network asking to be called or asking for credit if they run out. Clever huh. Of course, this is Digicel’s way of encouraging you to use the phone more and spend more money - but Papua New Guineans are incredibly savvy about taking advantage of this and using the phone for free. They have an awesome system.

This leftover from WWII lies directly under the Digicel
billboard above

Here, people use the free ‘template’ texts to send real messages to their friends. For example, Digicel allows you to plug a number into a text template such as ‘please send me _____ kina in credit’ and you just put the amount in. People agree on what each number means, so sending a request for 2 kina might mean you’re on your way home, sending a request for 3 kina might mean ‘I’m ready to be picked up’, etc. In this way, people use the phone company’s plan to try to make you spend more on credit, to cleverly send free messages. I love it.

Phone credit
 So, phones are everywhere. Yesterday, I saw a number of amazing traditional performances (singing and dancing is referred to as singsing and sumsum – Tok Pisin is so fun). There were young men performing in little other than leaves and paper bark, chanting, drumming and dancing according to a custom that may be very very old (no one really knows how old) and there alongside them were friends and family, phones out, videoing the show for posterity.  

People using their phones to capture cultural performances

Can you see the guy sitting down in the centre? Filming with his phone
and chanting at the same time :)
Entertainment aside, mobile phone technology is such a wonderful thing for a place like PNG as it doesn’t require services to reach your individual door (like a landline) and there aren’t the same maintenance costs involved (I guess satellites aren’t affected by earthquakes and humidity like everything else is here). Of course, it’s not all rosy and some people can and do use phones to film and disseminate pornography 

which is a big concern for a society which strongly promotes Christian and conservative values. I’m not sure how widespread the problems are but certainly the advantages of mobile phones mean that they are here to stay.

Of course, a phone to an Australian doesn’t necessarily mean the same as a phone to a Papua New Guinean. I could theorise that most people here have never had a landline and still don’t have internet access and that this combined with the fact that people can be very isolated and it’s human nature to want to seek out others = a situation where people use their phone to meet people and try to make new friends. Just a theory - I don’t really know the reason why, but, at times when it’s cheap (or free) to call, people will dial random numbers and see who’s there. You’ll be sitting at home, watching a DVD and suddenly the phone rings and someone asks ‘yu husat?’. At first, it seems pretty bizarre to be on the receiving end of a call and to be asked who you are. OK, I admit, it still seems pretty odd to me. I tend to reply with ‘yu kolim mi na yu husat?’ and they usually tell me and sometimes ask me where I am. (At least they don’t ask me what I’m wearing….) It’s hard not to find these calls irritating even though they’re not threatening at all. Once, I called a wrong number by accident. I apologised and hung up. Then, they began texting me, telling me that they lived in Moresby and asking how I was and that they hoped God would bless me, etc. I became engaged in a bizarre and pointless text conversation before I finally convinced them that although they were probably very nice, I wasn’t going to become their phone friend. I know. I’m so mean.

The Conference Centre of Kambubu
As I’ve mentioned, mobile phone coverage is pretty decent in East New Britain but there are some unlucky spots. I few weeks ago I visited a wonderful school called Kambubu, which is right on the coast of the Pomio district. This is the kind of place where you look out from the staff room to see impossibly blue water and swaying palms. You know you should be thinking of the kids and their grammar troubles but it’s hard not to think about how good some rum would taste in your coconut. Anyway, there is next to no mobile coverage in Kambubu, except for a large guava tree which, if you dance around it and wave your phone, you will, eventually, be able to send a text. The kids at this school refer to the tree as ‘the conference centre’.  (I know I said in my last post that kids weren’t allowed to have phones at school. It’s been true at every other school I’ve been to except this one.)

Mobile phones, and not computers, also give some people access to various forms of social media. Adults in the more urban areas, and kids in general, know about facebook and twitter. Some of them actually use these sites, others just know of them from Digicel’s far reaching advertising (in some places, the company paints tree trunks with Digicel red and white). But, as the vast majority of people don’t have general internet access, I’ve yet to meet a teenager who has heard of youtube. It seems somehow more bizarre when you hear them talk about twitter…..

 Next week, I’m running a session for the great staff at my base school on using powerpoint. Most of these teachers are, like many Papua New Guineans, very engaging speakers with a real sense of flair and I’m actually mindful of crushing their public speaking mojo with powerpoint so I gotta find a way to show them how to use it for pictures, graphs, etc, without tempting them to read off it (as so many people do in the places I’ve worked at before). At least I know they won’t be to insert pointless cutesy videos which they downloaded from youtube, so they’re already ahead as far as I’m concerned.

Lastly, one thing I have learnt from my colleagues here, and it’s something which we often say in Australia, but rarely have the guts to practice, is that ‘you’re never too old’. To see a woman in her late fifties, who grew up without electricity (it gets dark here at 6:00pm) slowly but surely learn to use the internet to search for and download images and then use them to create a presentation is humbling and impressive. I’ve known people in Australia to shy away from (actually in some cases loudly have a temper tantrum because of) frustrations with having to use new technology. Yes, I also admit to having a sook when I had to rub two brain cells together and get used to using a mac (scroll you stupid mouse pad scroll!). I now accept that my only significant first world problem is the total lack of beach front at your average Australian school (shocking but true), and not the fact that the computers are sometimes a little slow to load. To those of you who lack a view of swaying palms and white sandy beach from your office, I say ‘sori tru’ - that really sucks and yes, you definitely deserve better. To those of you who complain cause you have to submit something electronically I say toughen up. Then again, those people wouldn't be reading a blog cause they think a blog is some sort of plumbing problem.

The view from the staff room at Kambubu Secondary

The beach front of Ramoiana Technical School

Frolicking in front of the school on the Duke of York Islands

Lukim yu olgeta J

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Education in the Land of the Unexpected: Part 2

Many schools have awesome murals. The murals at this boy's school show Tolai and Baining Cultural stuff.

In my last entry I talked a lot about the challenges facing teachers and students in schools. Perhaps in this, I’ll focus more on the everyday differences between the Australian (Victorian) secondary schools I know and love and ENB ones.  I think this calls for a nice table!

Victorian Secondary Schools (Aus)
ENB High and Secondary Schools (PNG)
Usually schools have a uniform. The uniform is bought from a shop. Girls almost always have the option of a skirt or pants/shorts. The uniform has suitable items for summer or winter. Thongs (OK, OK, jandels, flip flops, not stringy undies) are not allowed. Most schools have very ‘safe’ colours, like red and white, or navy and maroon (the exception being Wesley College in Melbourne whose bright purple and yellow pupils create the impression of a telly tubbies fan club gathering.

All schools have a uniform. The uniform is sometimes bought, sometimes made by the students themselves. Girls always wear a skirt (never pants/shorts) which is often a laplap (sarong). Only a summer uniform is required. Everyone wears thongs/flip flops/jandels.  Most schools have really brightly coloured uniforms. A particular favourite is a deep red shirt with a bright orange collar.
School starts at around 9:00am and finishes around between 3:00pm and 3:30pm. Teachers and students share a sigh of relief as they each go their separate ways at the end of the day.
School begins at around 8:00am (I know one school that starts at 7:30am). School finishes at around 1:30pm, which is also lunch. Most students and teachers live on campus so they are stuck with each other 24/7. 
After school
After school finishes, students may go to outside school activities (sport, dance, music lessons) or they may watch far too much TV,   eat a plethora of sugar and salt laden snacks and update their FB status. Or if the stars are aligned, they may do some homework.
When classes finish, school based activities begin. Students have supervised study periods, do agricultural work, go to mass, have choir practice for mass, clean the school, etc. (The kids at my base school now have a hip hop dance class to go to! More on that at a later   date).
Class Sizes
There is a cap on student numbers at 26. Many teachers (myself included), think that this is too much (it may be OK at some schools, but when you’ve got a high percentage of kids with special needs 20 is much better). Any more than 26 and we are walking away. We have a union to protect these conditions and believe me, if you’re a parent, it’s in your best interest to defend the working rights of your kids’ teachers.
There is a cap on student numbers at 40. Any more than that and a teacher can technically refuse to teach the class. Now back to the real world.
All the schools I’ve been to (10 schools) have classes around the 50 mark. Teachers know there is no point in complaining. Parents and students don’t complain as they don't have the ‘right’ to go to high school. So if the schools cut down their class sizes, it might be your child who misses out. As it is, many many young people receive no high school education. Some parents beg schools to take their kids and just let them sit on the floor of the classroom.
The Right to an Education
Everyone has the right to go to school. What’s that? You abused a teacher and bashed up 4 other kids, disseminated pornography, damaged school property and there is no evidence at all that you’ve actually learnt anything in the last year? Oh, and your private school kicked you out? No that’s OK, welcome, we’d LOVE to have you in the public system!! (Alright,   I actually do believe that no one should be denied an education but feel pee-ed off that it’s disadvantaged gov schools that bare the brunt of ‘fixing’ troubled kids.)
All kids have the right to primary education but that doesn’t mean they’ll get it. There may not be a school they can go to. The government doesn’t have the resources to check that all kids are enrolled in schools. If you do get to go to primary school, then you need to pass an exam to continue into grade 9 (year 9 in Aus, or final year of junior high in U.S/Japan). And, if you don’t succeed in your grade 10 exam, that’s it for you, no grade 11 and 12. Then, even if you do make it through all these difficulties, there are over 13,000 eligible students for around 5000 uni places. 
Foreign Languages
Students are required to learn a foreign language for the first 3 years of high school (years 7, 8 & 9). Most schools offer at least one European language (often French, German or Italian) and one Asian Language (Japanese, Mandarin or Indonesian). Study of a foreign language beyond year 9 is optional. Many students get a lot out of studying a foreign language, but some students and lots of parents complain that foreign language studies are compulsory. That’s right, some parents sook that their kids, for free, get the chance to learn another language (and about another culture) – oh the inhumanity!! Some parents however, tell me they think their kids are lucky to have the opportunity (I'm told it's not appropriate to kiss parents but I otherwise would in this case).
No foreign languages are taught. That’s because the kids are already doing ALL their studies in their third (at least) language. That’s right, they’re trying to learn about nutrition, genetics, algebra, ancient societies, poetry and religion, in their third language (English). I had the very amusing and fascinating experience of explaining to my PNG colleagues that in Japan, they teach in JAPANESE. They learn maths and science, and home economics in JAPANESE. I was then asked, “so they have textbooks in their language? Oh, so that’s why Japanese people don’t speak English well!” These teachers didn’t realise that what PNG has, an education system which runs in the non native language of the country, is exceptional (and impressive that it runs at all).    
School Responsibility
We have a very risk adverse attitude towards student activities. One example; my former principal was very reluctant to allow myself and another teacher to take students on a bike riding camp (the Great Vic Bike Ride) in case someone hurt themselves. In the end, he relented (he is actually a good guy and was just reacting to external fears) but teachers are constantly being reminded about student safety.  Students are never to be without a teacher in the classroom. Only a qualified home economics teacher can turn on an oven with students in the room, (because without a Home Ec degree I might what, mistake a lamb shank for a underdeveloped year 7?).
I think the fact the kids are given machetes to trim the school gardens really says it all. Students are allowed to be unsupervised in the classroom (this was also true in Japan). Students get up on the roof to clean out the gutters. Students ride, unrestrained in the back of open utes (pick up trucks) with the school logo on them. I’m thinking that perhaps there is some sort of ideal that lives between column A and column B……
The school calendar is fixed. Term holidays are determined a few years in advance. Parents must be given several weeks notice for school excursions. School meetings, concerts, etc, are planned at least a term in advance.
The school calendar is more like a collection of possibilities than a document you might use to make plans. When I first started at my base school, I asked for a copy of the term meeting schedule. The deputy principal handed me a calendar of the relevant months but it was blank. I stupidly asked, “when are the meetings?” to which he jovially replied,  “oh, we’ll just fill it in as we go along”. There are dates set for national exams but this year even they have run late. There are dates set for when results will be released but again, that’s more like a hope than a reality.  I feel like Japan and PNG are polar opposites in this regard and it’s fascinating to be able to compare these two systems (with Australia somewhere in between).
Teaching in Australia is impossible without encountering a whole heap of jargon. I know that all fields have their jargon but I’m going to go out on a limb here and claim that jargon in education is exceptional in its craziness. Jargon is supposed to be one of the tools that in-group members (professional of a particular field) use to create a shared language (and often simultaneously excludes outsiders). However in the case of education, the jargon seems to come from outside, from some sort of evil jargon generating education demon and works to make teaching professionals feel like we have no idea what we’re doing and must be in need of immediate professional development. For example, you are not a teacher, you are a ‘facilitator of learning’. You do not assist or help students, you ‘scaffold them’. Students don’t obtain skills through the subjects they study, they reach progression points within a dimension of a domain which belongs to a strand (I’m not making this up).  And if you lose your shit and say ‘eff you mo fo, I’m a teacher – I stand in front of the class and I TELL THEM WHAT TO DO!’, the evil jargon generating education demon says, ‘no you don’t silly – that’s a teaching style called ‘explicit instruction’’ . Seriously.
Yay, time to celebrate one of my most favourite things about the education system in PNG – it’s (nearly) jargon free!! I think PNG should advertise itself as a jargon free working environment as a means of attracting overseas teachers. I can just see boatloads of tired, jargon tortured Australian teachers, rowing across the Torres Strait to freedom. In PNG, teachers teach, students study. They do assignments and read books and they learn. It’s awesome. There is some Australian influence creeping in, I’ve seen diagrams in the syllabus here which make me shudder (you know the ones with lots of boxes and lots of arrows that all point to everything and go around in circles? Can we not spell ‘interrelated’?) But nobody seems to pay any attention to them, which means - I may have found my people J
AND, added bonus - not many people know how to use powerpoint so you’re saved from having to continuously watch grown ups ‘read aloud’ at meetings.
Students, in general, are allowed to have phones but are not allowed to use them in class (at my old school, the rule was, if I see it, or hear it, it’s going bye bye to the office safe til the end of the week). Students are not allowed to smoke (neither are teachers, at all, on school grounds). Students are in HUGE trouble if they have any kind of weapon on them, so knives are definitely out. Teachers generally do not care if student couples hold hands, etc, but we tend to feel icky deep down inside if we see anything more than that and expect students to keep the love G rated within school.
Students are not allowed to own a mobile phone (remember many of them board at school). They often get caught when they try to charge it somewhere. Students aren’t allowed to smoke, but most don’t seem to want to. They are also not allowed to chew betel nut and that is something they do want to do – often. They get in trouble for doing it but as most of the teachers are betel nut chewers it doesn’t seem to result in lots of trouble. Smoking marijuana is a BIG no no though – very interesting given that many teachers and students are already in school, high on betel nut (if you’re not used to it, that stuff can make you feel CRAZY). Students are allowed to have big knives. Students are not to be seen canoodling in any way shape or form (and some of them are already 20). 
The girls at my base school, bringing in offerings at mass (these students make their uniforms themselves)

Ovens at school for cooking (wood fired - I bet they could make an awesome pizza...)

Recreation Time

 So, I think I’ve said enough about education. I think the next topic should be about the ways in which modernity manifests itself in PNG, the way it saddles up to old traditions and creates some pretty interesting results. If you’re reading this and happen to be a future employer of the author, I was just joking about the jargon; I seriously love scaffolding my learners. I go crazy for authentic assessment! And if you can’t believe that, then practice one my favourite ‘habits of the mind’ and try ‘approaching the situation with humour’ - it always work for me. Lukim yu poro :)