21 May 2019

Bougainville women's leader canes absent teachers

10:59 am on 21 May 2019

A women's leader in the Papua New Guinea autonomous region of Bougainville says teachers are often failing to turn up to class.

Helen Hakena.

Helen Hakena. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Helen Hakena of the Neitana Lehan Women's Development Agency also said classrooms are overcrowded and underfunded and some teachers are not being paid.

Ms Hakena said it is not uncommon at elementary schools (schools for children aged from four to seven), across Buka Island, where many Bougainvilleans live, for teachers to arrive late or not at all.

She said elementary teachers have not been paid all year and she sympathises with their plight, but she says parents, who have paid fees, deserve to have their children educated.

Ms Hakena said it is often the case that students moving on to primary school, at eight years of age, are unable to read and write - skills which many parents on Bougainville cannot help with.

She said it's critical that Bougainville, as it prepares to hold a referendum on independence, doesn't have a lot of illiterate children 'swanning around.'

Ms Hakena said the issue was raised in church sermons at the weekend.