Overcrowded classrooms and a scarcity of teachers in the Wapenamanda District of Enga Province means teachers can have classes of fifty students, leaving little time for one-on-one learning. Rachel Koralyo, a teacher aide with a science degree and no teaching experience, found herself providing voluntary after-school lessons to students who approached her. She wanted to help students who were eager to learn and improve their performance in school.
Rachel applied for an Australia Awards PNG scholarship to study a Postgraduate Diploma in Education, focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM). Through her course, she learnt about Special Inclusive Education. This involves inclusive teaching of both able-bodied and special needs children in the same classroom. She immediately recognised that this training could address student performance issues she was experiencing.
Rachel, now a qualified teacher at Foursquare Secondary School in Enga Province, can track performance and identify below average students. She finds that many students who suffer trauma, have learning impairments, are living with disability, or dealing with peer pressure and societal pressure are prevalent under performers.
Rachel has been spending her lunchtimes teaching and counselling through individual student-teacher sessions. Her goal is to reduce the percentage of below average students from what is presently 30% of the class, to less than 20% by the end of the academic year. She believes that learning extends beyond the classroom syllabus and remarks: “Teachers not only impart content knowledge, but the life of a student will centre around the teacher. How you walk, talk, smile, scold, and teach will all influence who your students become in the future. Teachers should be the best role models. You give shape to the future you want to see.”
Planning to pursue a master’s degree in marine biology, Rachel’s goal is to teach at the tertiary level one day.
Applications for the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (STEM) are currently open until 8 August 2022.