Provincial Education Leaders and Good School Culture in PNG

‘PNG Provincial Education Leaders and Good School Culture’ is a discussion on the roles of PNG provincial education leaders, school inspectors and school admins as the leaders central to the topic of school leadership and school culture.
The second article (Part 2) puts in perspective the roles of provincial education officials, principals and provincial governors. The article stresses the fact that positions are vital for promoting positive schools’ values. Understandably, the provincial education leaders and politicians must use their powers appropriately when appointing school leaders.

Here is a quick recap of the topics in discussion in Part 1 on School Leadership and School Culture.

  • What is the school culture?;
  • When there is a Break-down in school culture;
  • What is Student culture?;
  • Student culture and student behaviour;
  • Students drinking and generation names;
  • School culture in perspective;
  • Students culture in perspective;
  • The distracting force – bad behaviour;
  • Four impacts of negative student culture;
  • Education leader role 1: Re-enforce school culture, and
  • Education leader role 2: Maintain a positive school culture.

To get the full understanding of the discussion on, read the Introduction to School Leadership and School Culture and Part 1 via the respective links.

Appointment of School Principals Key for Good School Culture

Some PNG city schools have a decentralised education system. The Provincial Education Boards (PEBs) have the responsibility to ‘plant the seed’ of positive values in their provincial schools.

The article on PNG provincial education leaders encourages the provincial governors, local Members of Parliament (MPs) and provincial education advisors (PEAs) to use their powers to appoint school heads to positions to maintain school culture. Particularly, if the school has a history of school fights, the appointments of the principal must aim to stop the school fights.

Results of Appointing Incompetent School Heads

When the PEB (and politicians) appoint incompetent principals, it impacts negatively on the school culture. Simply, because principals appointed this way are unable to promote the norms and values of the schools. Such political appointments can be damaging to the values of the schools.

The result is often seen in school fights where the intrinsic school culture breaks down and a new (problematic) culture thrives among students.

In order instances where school principals in mission run schools are appointed based on cronyism or by ‘wantok system’ often resulted in deterioration of school culture. For example, my secondary school was a catholic/De La Salle Brothers run school. The school had always had a De La Salle brother as the principal. Until early 2000 when locals were appointed principals the school was never the same.

Many Lutheran and Catholic run-schools are facing the problem when school leaders are not well-versed with school culture or cannot maintain the culture

It is vital that when the provincial appointment committee makes it appoints of a school head them MUST consider school culture as the number one selection criteria. Appoint principals and deputies who can maintain school culture.

Seven PNG provincial education leaders – Important Players

So, let’s have a look at those positions and powers at play at the provincial education level. Read the article about the Virtues of Reals Leaders – an article aimed to help leaders in provincial circles.

School administrators

Secondary school admins are principal and deputy principals. The positions are pivotal when it comes to disciplining students; applying discipline (when a student is in the wrong) and enforcing discipline (to show authority and maintain good school culture).

Every student WITHIN a school has got to have respect for the admin. But to gain respect, the admin must earn it! Drawing a clear line between good and bad students’ behaviour is where discipline matters. The school admin must always maintain students’ discipline and enforce it when necessary.

If an admin cannot do this simple task, they are rendered useless and ineffective. And, therefore must be replaced with competent school principals.

School board of governors

A school board is the ‘ultimate’ body within the school’s boundary; comprised of community leaders, parents and teachers’ reps, senior teachers and admin. The school BoG makes important decisions on behalf of the school and for the school.

In hindsight, there must be a clear and strong presence of school board chairpersons and their peers on matters of students’ discipline to maintain good school culture.

I call it ‘the ultimate body’ as school boards have the potential to control and contain students from behaving badly. It can create a positive school culture in school by working closely with schools’ admins, the teachers and the community at large.

Provincial education board

PEB exists on provincial government’s prerequisite. The board’s chairperson is the provincial education administrator. The board’s role is that of a ‘middleman’ between the school board of governors and provincial politicians. PEB plays a polarising role in influencing political decisions on education in the province.

If teachers or students do not agree on the school board’s decision, they can go to the PEB. It can deal with discipline matters especially if students appeal a decision by the school board.

Regarding maintaining good school culture, PEB can hear disciplinary matters if the matters cannot be dealt with effectively at the school board levels. If, for example, a school has had consistent problems with students behaving badly, the chairman of PEB can intervene to find out why.

The PEB must keep school admin and board on their toes by asking prodding questions and reporting to PEA, PA and Governor if/when necessary. The action of the PEB must are to improve the school rather than for any self-serving motives.

Provincial education advisors

PEA represents the national department of education in the province. He is the chairman of the PEB. He approves the appointments of principals to positions within the province.

As the head of the Education Department in the province and having power over the principals, PEA is a key player in solving school fights. He is the mouthpiece of the national department of education on policy matters. He is also the glue that holds schools, students, parents, principals and school boards together.

Any failure of schools to promote the positive school culture in the provinces can be left squarely on the PEAs.

Provincial administrators

The PA oversees many divisions in the province, representing provincial and national governments. This is a political appointment. PA has powers to question performances of the Provincial Education Advisor, principals and school boards if they are not ethical.

If PEAs or principals or school governors do anything contrary to the norms of the school, teachers and parents have the right to raise it with the PA in the province. During the early years of my career, the teachers in a school who were intimidated by the school headteacher reported him to the PA and the provincial authorities acted by suspending the headteacher, forthwith.

In fact, an investigative team from the province visited the school and found out the headteachers were in fault. His suspension was warranted. This example shows that PAs are a powerful individual in the smooth running of schools.

Politicians, Members of Parliament and schools

Elected members have a direct responsibility to question admins and school boards of schools in their electorates. At the same time, they have a responsibility to make sure their schools are good.

Provincial governors are the keepers of good school cultures too. Any school in the province facing problems relating to student’s behaviour must get the attention of the governors. Students school fights, group drinking, cheating in exams are also their problems. He must provide the directions for finding solutions to these school problems.

This does not mean sacking and replacing principals. The provincial education leaders have the power to make sure a good school culture exists in their province, good schools.

The political leaders must find a way to empower the principals, deputy principals, Chairman of PEB, PEA and PA to create good school cultures.

He needs to take a leadership role in the fight against school fights in Lae.

Inspectors: national and provincial education links

The inspectors are the national education officers base in the provinces. They are the attaché of the national department of education in the provinces. Their presence in the provinces in PNG is very important.

Provincial education officers, school admins, school board, PEAs, PAs and governors must understand the roles of inspectors, support them and work with them. The inspectors are a group of powerful individuals who can uphold, maintain and or fix school culture.

So, any provincial administrator or governor who wants their province to be number one must start with school inspectors. The school inspectors are the best link within the education circles for creating school students’ culture.

Recommended reading: School Fights in PNG City Schools – Bad Students Culture

Summary of Part 2 – PNG provincial education leaders

This article is over 1400 words but the message is simple: Good schools start with good principals who know how to facilitate good school cultures. The provincial education committee should appoint principals with the aim to maintain school culture. Where there is a breakdown in school norms and values, immediate actions must be taken at appropriate levels to fix it. All in all, the provincial education leaders must make sure the provincial public servants from PA to PEA and inspectors and principals are appointed to positions, not just on merit, but also to maintain, improve and uphold school cultures.

Leave a Reply