Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

160129 Speech by Sue Edgecombe at PAU teacher inservice grad

Primary Teacher In-Service Graduation

Pacific Adventist University and Sonoma Adventist College

Koiari Campus, NCD

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Presented by: Ms Suzanne Edgecombe, Counsellor for Education, Australian High Commission



  • Professor Jeff Crocombe (Deputy Vice Chancellor, Pacific Adventist University)
  • Pr Geoffrey Pomaleu (President, Papua New Guinea Union Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church)
  • Dr Isako Esekia (Principal, Sonoma Adventist College)
  • Department of Education Representative
  • Teachers Services Commission Representative
  • Dr. Elisapesi Manson, Dean, School of Education
  • Distinguished Guests
  • Graduands and their families
  • Ladies and gentlemen

I am delighted to be here today at Pacific Adventist University and Somana Adventist College’s primary teacher in-service graduation.

I feel privileged and honoured that Dr Elisapesi Manson, the Dean for PAU’s School of Education, invited me to address you on such an important day.

It is important, not because you are graduating for the first time.  You have done that before.

It is important because you have shown the commitment to your profession by returning to college and extending your teaching qualifications.

It is important because you have grasped the opportunity to revitalise yourselves in the valuable role that you play in your country’s development.

Make no mistake!  As teachers, you play an important, highly critical role for your nation and your people.

If the education you give your students is the building block in which PNG’s prosperity is based, then you are the engineers – the architects – building a brighter, better future.

You deserve to be proud of that.

Just as it is for Australia, PNG’s future depends on each person having the necessary knowledge, understanding, skills and values for a productive, rewarding life in an education, just, and open society. 

High quality schooling is central to achieving this vision.

The PNG Government understands how important education is for the future of this beautiful country.  They have committed almost 10% of the national budget to education.  They have focused on improving the opportunities for children to go to school.

Now the priority for the PNG Government is to improve the quality of students learning – to build the quality and professionalism of teachers as part of their vision of a revitalised the education system and teaching service.

After Dr Manson invited me to join you today, I did a bit of thinking and googling about the concept of revitalised service.  What does that really mean?  What does a revitalised service really look like? 

And I came across a quote which resonated with me.  William Arthur Ward was an American born in 1921 who initially started his career in the military and then moved into teaching. 

He wrote quite a number of books about teaching and education.  Many of his insights are as true today as they were 50-60-70 years ago.  He said: “The mediocre teacher tells.  The good teacher explains.  The great teacher inspires.”

Let me repeat that: “The mediocre teacher tells.  The good teacher explains.  The great teacher inspires.”

Teachers who inspire have a positive impact on their students for life!!

To this day, I still remember an economics teacher who inspired me when I attended a girls’ high school in Sydney. I wasn’t good at economics. But Ms Fainelli changed that.

She knew her subject, had a great sense of humour and took a real interest in her students. She treated us as adults, and expected us to behave as adults.

She was committed to our success. And it paid off! Initially I was baffled by economics, but by the end of the year I had passed with a modest credit.

Ms Farinelli was a professional.  She kept her subject matter knowledge up to date.  She kept her knowledge of teaching techniques up to date, and found ways to draw students into the learning space.  She turned up on time.  She was well groomed. 

She made learning fun and interesting, even using the standard curriculum.  And she showed she cared for each and every student – to see us pass – to see and celebrate our learning achievements.  She was passionate about her vocation.

I disliked economics, but I walked away having passed.  But that is not all I walked away with – I walked away with a sense of the value of learning, not just in the classroom, and that there were people in the world who were rooting for me to be my best and achieve.

Teaching is a vocation and a profession.  It must be a socially valued occupation if teaching quality is to be achieved.  That means teachers should be recognised as professionals, and that requires you to BE professional in your approach.  Simply by being on this course, you have demonstrated your commitment to your professionalism.

You have completed a course which is designed to provide you with 21st century teaching skills that will benefit both you and your students.  Collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking in order to thrive within a changing society.  Skills that will allow you to be teachers who can inspire, not just tell!!

Not only have you learned new skills, but I know that there are 98 people in this room from nine provinces right across PNG who will walk away with new friendships formed over the 18-week course.  Your colleagues here will form an important part of your professional network. 

I encourage you to draw upon their experiences and peer advice going forward.  There will be times when putting into practice what you have learned here at PAU and Somana will be challenging.  Your networks will give you the support base to push through those challenges.

Your Government is committed to revitalising the education system, and improving the quality of schooling and teaching!!  They have a big agenda and many competing priorities. 

You already know the challenges – the need for more classrooms, the need for more resources, more dormitories, more teacher accommodation, the need for more teachers, and the need for more in-service training.

The Australian High Commission works closely with both the National Department of Education and the Department of Higher Education, Science, Research and Technology.  Because the issues of teaching quality and quality of higher education institutions is so important to both these departments, so too are these issues important to us, and the Australian Government is supporting the PNG Government to implement change in a number of areas.

Over the last four years we have worked with the PNG Government to construct more than 400 classrooms and around 200 teacher houses.

In 2015, more than 700 students received scholarships through the Australia Awards Program.  50 of these were for teachers studying at PNG institutions.  We are very proud of the fact that more than 50% of these 700 plus scholarships were awarded to women, and we have also targeted our support for students living with disabilities.

We have a strong commitment to gender equality and social inclusion.  We support students living with disability to study in Australia.  Our programs also support efforts that see more girls enrol in and complete their schooling.

And there is work being done to identify where Australia can assist in supporting improved teaching quality.  We, like the PNG Government recognise the value of a good education to building the future of this country.

Australia is always keen to actively cooperate with leading institutions like Pacific Adventist University and Sonoma Adventist College.

The Australian aid program is also supporting the training of health workers in PNG.  The PAU is a key partner in this endeavour.  Through our combined efforts, we are supporting PNG to increase the number and quality of health workers such as midwives, nurses and community health workers right across PNG. Australian funding to a new laboratory and health clinic also serves campus residents and the local community.

Other targeted support includes: the refurbishment of midwifery facilities; an extension of the health sciences block; two computer laboratories, a staffroom; a 48-bed female student dormitory; a staff accommodation duplex; and a student accommodation duplex. This new infrastructure has supported PAU to improve the quality and capacity of the nursing and midwifery programs.

We do this because these programs, focused on supporting the growth of professional and revitalised health care and education workforces produce people like you – people who are teaching those who will lead Papua New Guinea into the future and tackle the challenges it faces.

And we recognise and acknowledge you, who have a belief in yourselves and your ability to teach well, who find teaching a rewarding and enjoyable experience, who see the opportunity to influence the lives of others and to be the architects for change.

All of you graduands sitting here today are showing your commitment to building upon your experience – of bringing your teaching knowledge up to date with the latest teaching techniques, and honing your skills in the classroom to enable your students to succeed and achieve their dreams.  You are central to revitalised service.

I hope that, as you walk out of here today, that you are walking away with a new perspective on what makes a good – no – a great teacher – and some techniques that you can apply in your classrooms to inspire your students to reach for the sky.  For the students you inspire today will be the great leaders of this country in the future.


Lo  makim Australian High Commission,

mi laik wisim yupla gutpla wokabaut

lo laip blo yupla

na mi laik tok bikpla amamas

long yupla pinisim skul tete.

Tenku tru!

On behalf of the Australia High Commission, I wish you well as you follow your life’s journey and I congratulate you for your achievements that we celebrate today. Thank you.