For Pukari, a remote community in Gulf Province, human resource is an issue.
The blame may fall back to Pukari Primary School, but there are many other external contributing factors.
Shedding light and expressing concern was the current headmaster Erevai Toere.
The school has 297 students from grades 3 to 8. There are 80 students in each class, and only 6 teachers to cater for them.
On average, less than 10 students pass on to do Grade 9, either at the Kerema Coronation Secondary School or Malalaua High School.
Only a handful more continue through Flexible Open and Distance Education (FODE) or pursue technical courses at the Malalaua vocational school, while the rest add on to the statistics of drop-outs in the province and nation.
Upon comparison, Toere has also noted students from inland Gulf schools performing better than coastal villages like Pukari.
“Someone has to motivate the students. But even the teachers lack motivation in their personality,” he said.
Adding to the burden was the lack of infrastructure and materials.
There’s a need for a new library and reading books, teaching materials, one more classroom, one more teacher and teachers’ houses.
“Housing is the problem that’s causing teachers’ shortage in remote areas,” he said.
Toere discouraged the idea of localisation, where local teachers are employed within their own communities.
Because while this addressed the accommodation issue for the provincial education board, the effect on students is that the main option for communication was the local dialect.
“This greatly affects their language and reading capacity. Some sound of letters are missing in their pronunciation. So we have to go back to teaching them simple phonics,” he said.
However, he has seen improvements over the past term.
In the year, Toere also aims to hold an in-house phonics workshop for the staff.
His vision is for every Grade 8 student to pass. With his more than 28 years of teaching and FODE experience, Toere’s aim is focusing on micro-teaching.
“This means grouping the weak learner into their level of learning and paying special attention to them, putting in extra hours,” he said.
He is determined to develop the human resource, from the foundation up, but his call to the government and provincial education board is to address housing issues and localisation.
“Local teachers must be deployed to other locations. And as far as learning is important, teachers’ conditions are their human right and have to be addressed.”