Children and School
How do children live in Papua New Guinea?
The children in Papua New Guinea certainly watch less television than the children in Europe, because there are no televisions in the countryside or in the remote mountain regions. Many families have no electricity at all, which makes it difficult to use a computer. This particularly affects the people who live in the countryside. In the city it looks different again.
Most people get up at sunrise, around 6 a.m. The children also get up early because they want to get to school on time. Most of the time there are no roads and the children get to the next village or school on simple trails. You rarely find cars, if someone should drive a car, it is usually an off-road vehicle. The main roads are paved, but most of the roads are only dusty.
Do the children even go to school here?
There is no compulsory education in Papua New Guinea. So it happens that 40 out of 100 Papuans cannot read or write.
Many schools are church schools
The first schools in Papua New Guinea were established by the missionaries. Even today, schools are often enough a matter for the churches that run many schools there. How many schools and pupils there are now is not known at all. About 62 out of 100 children go to school. That is not a high number and some of the children leave school very quickly because the school fees are simply too high for some parents.
Many children live in lonely mountain regions
One of the problems of Papua New Guinea is its remoteness. Many children live in remote mountain villages and there are no or only very poorly equipped schools. And when there is a school, there is a lack of teaching materials and teachers to teach the children.
Children in Papua New Guinea often take two hours to get to school. Imagine it would take you two hours, mostly on foot or by boat, to get to your school. Many children often only go to the third grade of primary school.
Girls are particularly disadvantaged and often leave school even earlier. In general, the educational opportunities for girls and young women in Papua New Guinea are very poor. Children in lonely mountain villages don’t even go to school. There is no school nearby.
Typical Papua New Guinea
Where is the wildest and most adventurous country in the world?
Yes, right, that might really still be Papua New Guinea, a country in Oceania defined by findjobdescriptions, because it is a very secluded and therefore mysterious country. For a long time this region was completely separate from the rest of the world. Many areas are difficult to settle, the terrain is impassable, so that many Europeans found it much too cumbersome to settle there. They stayed in the more accessible coastal regions.
Since the majority of the population lives in the inaccessible mountain regions, they were able to preserve their original culture. This is the only way to explain the linguistic diversity of the country, which with over 800 different languages has the largest linguistic density in the world.
Worst medical care
But people also pay a price for this seclusion. There are almost no developed roads, no infrastructure and only poor medical care. Health care in Papua New Guinea is one of the worst in the world. Some even think it’s the worst ever.
There is just one doctor for every 12,000 inhabitants. Medical care often only works by plane, as many villages have no roads at all. For many people, a hospital or doctor is not that easy to reach. Every tenth child dies before their fifth birthday and often from diseases that could have been easily treated.
Belief in witches
Black magic and witchcraft are still firmly anchored in the local beliefs. Again and again people are suspected of being to blame for the misfortune, illness or even the death of another villager. Bad harvests, storms or break-ins can just as easily find a culprit. It’s a witch’s fault. And as in the Middle Ages, the blame often falls on women who live alone or are widows. If she should also know how to heal with herbs, then it is all the worse for her.
What is Sanguma?
Sanguma is the name of the belief in black magic. It is true that there has long been a law that forbids these rituals and almost all residents of Papua New Guinea are Christians. But the old ideas of religion and spirit have always been associated with Christianity. Most of the time this was also possible without any problems. But the more modern life penetrates the old cultures and the more insecure people become, the more they cling to the old ghost ideas. In Papua New Guinea, the AIDS rate is the highest of all Pacific islands.
Many victims are women
How many victims there are every year is not exactly known. In any case, the women who were once called witches mostly remain on the run for their entire lives and can no longer return to their village. Church organizations and other aid agencies try to help these people, but it is not easy to take away the superstitions that give them a certain security in a world they are unfamiliar with.
It is not always peaceful
Often things are not all peaceful in the mountain villages. There are always arguments between different clans. These are families who determine the individual villages and fight for land, power or even money.
Give and take
The basic principle in Papua New Guinea is still “give and take”. When a couple marries in a village, the groom’s family gives something to the bride’s family and vice versa. These gifts are often pigs, but it can also be money. It is important that both sides give something.
The role of women has been enshrined for centuries, even if the Constitution of Papua New Guinea speaks of the equal status of men and women. Women tend the pigs, look after the garden and the food, and raise the children. The men go hunting and make the important decisions in village life.