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Tuesday, 26 October 1971
Page: 2541


Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) during the course of his speech tonight mentioned that he believed that the lack of educational opportunities in the Territory of Papua New Guinea was not important. T have no intention of challenging those remarks. T intend to make a study of the educational background in the Territory. As all honourable members know Papua became an Australian Territory in 1906. Under the Treaty of Versailles New Guinea became a mandate of the League of Nations and in 1921 Australia was given responsibility for civil administration. In the early decades our interests were conceived narrowly in terms of strategic importance. Prior to the Second World War there were only 500 children in Administration schools and 90,000 children in mission schools. At this stage 1 think it is only proper that we express our recognition of the fact that if missions had not moved into the Territory in the early years the base which has been built upon in recent years would have been very shaky. Recently in Auckland the Anglican Bishop of New Guinea, the Rt Reverend David Hand, said that the church was in the box seat because of its past efforts in education. Society in Australia recognises that the church is involved in hospitals, homes for the aged, corrective institutions, work in underprivileged areas here and overseas and is doing nothing but good.

It is appropriate at this stage that I praise and mention my feeling of admiration for those people who are working as missionaries in the far flung regions of the Territory and doing a good job. In fact, the Australian liberal philosophy is one which promotes, assists, helps and encourages selfhelp. In recent years the Government has made a marked contribution in the field of State aid to assist the churches in their educational work. But when we hear the concept of State aid being defended, arguments such as the right of choice of education and the benefits of a dual system of education are discussed. Briefly I shall mention what comprises the dual system of education as it exists in the Territory. The T schools follow a Territorial syllabus and provide the indigenous population with primary, high, technical and vocational school education and the A schools follow the New .South Wales syllabus and provide a primarily academic education for the children of expatriates as well as for indigenous and mixed race pupils with early facility in the English language. That is different to what we in Australia understand as a dual educational system. The dual systems of the Administration and non-Administration schools generally do not overlap. In 1970 non-Administration schools had approximately 50 per cent greater total enrolments than did Administration schools. Unfortunately the extent and depth of educational services in Papua New Guinea are as yet insufficient to meet the potential demand. In reply to a question asked in the House about a month ago the Minister for

External Territories (Mr Barnes) provided information in relation to the number of children in the Territory who were unable to obtain primary and secondary education. It is estimated that there are 359,000 children in the 7 to 12 age bracket in the Territory and of these 223,000 are in primary schools. It is estimated that approximately 60 per cent of students completing a primary education are unable to obtain a place in secondary schools. That means that 3 out of 10 children have the opportunity to go through to secondary schools.

Prior to the Second World War the great bulk of educational opportunity in Papua New Guinea was provided by voluntary mission schools and was essentially limited to primary schooling. After the war an increased awareness of the needs of and responsibility for territorial advancement brought a much greater official Australian involvement in education as well as in other fields. Despite this growth and its anticipated acceleration the missions will continue to be the major educational force in the Territory. This can be seen most clearly in the present policy of locating new Administration schools in new areas so as to spread educational resources as widely as possible and to prevent competition between the 2 systems. In effect an educational monopoly is held by either the Administration or one of the voluntary missions in each area or village. Some criticism has been levelled at this.

The missions have tended generally to operate at the purely local level and hence are more village oriented than are schools in the Administration network. Village pressures have tended to cause missions to expand their facilities horizontally rather than vertically. Mission policy has been aimed at preparing the majority of pupuls for village life. Alan Randall's 'Reorganisation of Education in Papua New Guinea' covers this quite clearly. He is an officer of the United Church. This emphasis upon the village has worked against the building up of a national character and national attitudes in the indigenous population. In particular, political education has suffered. This was emphasised recently by the United Nations mission which visited the Territory earlier this year.

Missions have tended to regard spreading the gospel as their prime activity.

Recently I made a study of a paper by Daniel Kunert who is a member of the New Guinea Lutheran Mission-Missouri Synod. He made a study of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana. I say to the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) that we have nurtured a system of education in the Territory which I believe is making one of the greatest long term contributions to the lack of unity in that country. The system now is that if the Catholic church, the Anglican church, the Methodists, the Baptists - if any church one wishes to name goes into the area we say: 'OK. That territory is yours.* The system is such that the cargo cult could qualify for State aid in the Territory if it wished to set up a school. If anyone doubts that he should make a close study of it. I believe that we in Australia, not through meanness but perhaps through lack of vision, are making a big mistake for the future, perhaps 50 years from now.

In the paper to which I have referred Mr Kunert said that schools have also been used by various missions to cause divisions within the country, setting denomination against denomination. While this has been true only to a limited extent, it is something which a country preparing for unity and independence cannot afford to tolerate. I believe that parents have the right to pick the school of their choice and to choose a particular denomination if they want their children to have a religious upbringing. But what I am arguing against is that no choice exists. Either one goes along and becomes indoctrinated or trained in some particular religion or one does not get an education at all. I believe that the people of Australia must play a much greater part in the Territory by making more money available for 2 aspects of education. The first is to ensure that a greater percentage of the people does receive an education. The second is to ensure that the dual system which we have adopted, which we cherish and which we have fought for in our own country is offered to the people of Papua New Guinea. At present we are giving them a second rate choice in education. Unfortunately I think that we will feel the effects of this policy in years to come. It will not contribute to the stability of this nation which is our closest neighbour.







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