Papua on Civilization

Papuan parents trust the role of teachers in making their children have the opportunity for a better future, although those teachers are settlers in Papua. Papuans only give this kind of trust to teachers, medical workers, and monks or nuns; never to members of the military or civil servants. This distrust is related to military torture Papuans have endured, especially in central highland areas since 1961 up to now.

Schools are like cultural agents charged with cleaning up after the downfalls of the past that have resulted from prolonged military repression. Teachers who come in from outside Papua are more like instructors of how to be modern, instead of providing education based on Papuan culture and Papuan children’s past life context. Classrooms become borders around their own lives, sheltering from their past life context. What is the practice of teaching to be modern like in the classroom?

Teachers are told that corporal punishment is a legitimate sanction for rebellious or naughty Papuan children. The idea of rebelliousness and naughtinessy is actually related to their assumption that Papuans are primitive. This assumption has crucial effects on the mission and, method of education. Education is imagined as an effort to rebuke primitive culture and graft ‘modern’ culture on to Papuan children.

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