Told by Paulon Podomo, Diploma in Primary Teaching graduate from Sacred Heart Teachers College in 2019

This short story is my personal experience of living and teaching in a remote school since January 2020. I am 27 years old, from Marofen village in North Fly District of Western Province. I graduated with a Diploma in Primary Teaching in 2019 from Sacred Heart Teachers College with support from Australia Awards In-PNG Scholarships. I am a proud alumnus and ambassador.

“Welcome home. Welcome to Biangabip. Welcome to St. Monica Primary School!”

Class activity

Grade 4 students doing a practical activity

This was the welcome I received from parents and happy children when I arrived at St. Monica Primary School, located in the mountains of Western Province bordering Sandaun and Southern Highlands Provinces. I was blessed with fresh vegetables from the gardens of the hardworking community, ending on a high note with a meaningful Sunday Service celebration.

The school bell rang at 7 o’clock on Monday morning and I had decided to teach a Grade 3 class. “Teacher me! Teacher me!” 32 little ones went on and on with their noise pollution without realisation. I [tried to] understand the children and manage them. The one thing that pleased me was their hardworking attitude both inside and outside the classroom and eagerness to learn. I tried my very best to teach more interesting lessons by going on the internet and also making good use of our beautiful environment and the few teaching and learning materials that were available.

Students in class

Paulon and his students

At the beginning of term two, our head teacher had to leave, so I stepped in to teach his Grade 7 class of 38 students. Teaching and learning materials to teach upper primary was limited. I had to sacrifice my time, especially at night to get teaching and learning flowing smoothly.

At times I complained to myself, “Why me? Why all these?” But I prayed about it and performed my duties to the best of my ability.

In 2021 I was posted back to the same school and willingly accepted to double classes again, this time Grades 4 and 8. There is always a shortage of teachers every year. Teachers are being posted here but they refuse to come due to the remoteness of the school. We are only three, teaching five different classes at a time. I had to work extra hard to get the Grade 8 class ready for national examinations.

I am currently teaching at the same school for the third year now. There have been some important things I have encountered and achieved during these busy years. One of them being that I have a record in the school of producing the highest number of merit students (17) and the highest number (32) of Grade 8 students being selected for high school. These experiences have put me in a better position to work with confidence and effectiveness in my teaching career.

As I share my experience, I am very thankful to the Australia Awards In-PNG Scholarships and Sacred Heart Teachers College who trained, moulded and shaped me into who I am and what I’m doing today. I am a proud teacher serving in a remote school.