After her husband passed away in 2015, Noelyn Wati decided to become a teacher. Teaching was one way for the 40-year-old to support her children and others in the Kokoda Track region of Central Province, and to help her and her family cope with the loss.
She took up short courses through the Seventh Day Adventist community-based program, and in 2018 started as a volunteer at Bisiatabu Primary School in Sogeri.
“I always encouraged my eldest son to continue his studies when he lost hope after the death of his father,” Noelyn recalled. “but I felt I had to do more than just stay at home and talk.”
“The short courses helped me to understand the basics of teaching elementary students and I enjoy seeing them learn and grow which also gives me confidence to grow in this profession.”
Noelyn wanted to continue learning to improve as a teacher. In 2019 she received a scholarship, through the Kokoda Initiative, to access flexible, open and distance education (FODE) to achieve her high school qualifications.
Australia, through the Kokoda Initiative, has supported forty teachers and health workers in the Kokoda Track region to undertake alternative education pathways like FODE.
When the PNG Government’s 1-6-6 schooling structure comes into place, teachers will need formal education qualifications and Noelyn is prepared to take on that challenge and become a fully-fledged teacher like her two older siblings.
She completed her grades 10 and 11 qualifications at the Kokoda Track Foundation FODE College in Northern Province, and is now studying for grade 12 at the FODE centre in Port Moresby.
In 2022, Noelyn expects to be one of the 17 FODE students – teachers, health workers and village health volunteers – to graduate from year 12.
“I am so determined to do well to achieve an official position as a teacher listed in the National Education System,” she said.
In her current teaching role, she is benefiting from other Kokoda Initiative support to her education, including teacher in-service training and work to strengthen school governance which are providing a boost to teaching quality and student learning outcomes.
Noelyn was among a group of 30 elementary teachers who recently completed phonics modules as part of their school in-service training this year to improve literacy lesson planning and student learning.
Through the Kokoda Initiative, Australia supports more than 200 teachers at 19 primary schools and 41 elementary schools across the Kokoda Track region.
The Kokoda Initiative in partnership with Central and Northern Provincial education authorities also supports school inspections, teacher assessments and provision of standards-based curricula to schools to ensure the quality of teaching and learning.