BREAKING NEW GROUND—Part 5
the Koiari School, Bisiatabu, Papua New Guinea
ALFRED CHAPMAN Synopsis: After being largely instrumental in pearance and behaviour an object lesson
establishing and developing Adventist work in of what a Christian school could do. Sec-
the Solomon Islands, G F Jones came to Papua. ondly, he took notice of village events.
There he visited 30 villages and began a more
aggressive work among the Koiari people by From one village three boys had come to
encouraging youth to attend the Bisiatabu school. When sickness struck the village
School. the schoolboys were sent home crying
bitterly. When they returned their mothers
Enrolling Students came with them. One mother said, “I
T HE SUCCESS G F Jones had in
opening up a school for the
Koiari people was cause of favourable com-
thank you for sending my little boy home,
he prayed to Jesus for me and I am
Alfred G Chapman healed.” Commenting, Jones says, “This is
ment on the part of some officials so that the first fruits of the mission school's
MA, was a graduate
of Avondale College an approach by Jones for medicines for his work.” This is what a mission school
& the universities of work in the Koiari area was met with an should do. First it should exert an influ-
Western Australia & agreement by the government to pay half ence on the students attending it and then
Queensland. He the cost.1 This school at Bisiatabu began to
taught in Lederville, it should through them offer to the people
Bickley & Victoria find favour with the people. Jones notes in the villages a new and improved way of
Park schools in West- how the Koiari people were now beginning life.
ern Australia before to show signs of a desire to have their chil- The close sympathy existing between
going to PNG for 20 dren come to the mission school.
years. Jones and the Koiari people is brought to
He was the principal It was a touching scene to see the boys, view in his description of an effort made
of Bautama in Papua, not all small ones either, clinging to their in 1922 to obtain students for the school.
1950-55, CSUM mothers that they might not go. Some He let the people know that he would like
College (Kabiufa) in were braver and came, but with tears.
the Eastern High-
them and their children to come to a feast
Broad shouldered, naked men, with their “which is the usual thing in these places”.
Balepa Central School faces painted and savage looking would So the people came “and they brought
in the Papuan Gulf have great tears running down their
their children.” He says gleefully, “We got
1958-61. He was a cheeks as for the first time they felt they
over twenty children at that feast to stay
teacher at Kabiufa must part with their boys.2
from 1961-69. on our mission, and the people gave them
Alfred’s wife Betty did What was it that formed this pressure on willingly.”4 A year later, Jones wrote again
medical work at the Koiari men to send their children to of the “twenty young people and children”
Balepa & then taught school? It seems that the influence of the still attending school so that a rather more
mission had been good on the nearby peo- encouraging picture emerges.5 Not only
Home Economics at
Kabiufa. ple. Especially had the personal influence of are young people willing to forgo the ex-
The Chapmans have Jones been something they could put confi- citements and pleasures, with the inde-
three children, Ken- dence in. The constant program of visiting pendence of their village life for the disci-
neth, Margaret & the people carried out by Jones and by the pline and routine of a school program, but
Alfred passed to his earlier missionaries had created a favourable they are beginning to see themselves as
rest on 18 April 1983. climate. Speaking of one tour, Jones says: having a responsibility to be mission
This article is an ex- “With Mitieli, our Fijian worker, and teachers.
cerpt from his MA three school boys, I...called at twenty-seven
thesis entitled: Sev-
villages.”3 Jones was careful not to cut the Education-How Much and What For?
Mission Education in school children off from contact with their Here we discern the dilemma which
Papua New Guinea , people. He describes two aspects of this. faced and still faces, the mission educators
1908-1914. Firstly, he took occasion to visit the homes as they began to get their program func-
His wife Betty lives in of the people taking with him school boys tioning. On the one hand was the possibil-
who could present in their attractive ap- ity of fostering in the pupils a desire to
educate themselves to the highest possible standard, was taught in the school, it is difficult to establish any
spending years of effort on comparatively few people. very specific idea. Writing of the pupils after they had
On the other hand was the possibility of fostering in been in attendance at school for seven months Jones
the pupils a sense of urgency which would press them mentions three aspects of formal education—some
to pass on to others as soon as possible, as much as arithmetic, reading in the Koiari tongue, and Bible sto-
they could of what they could learn in a much more ries.10 The arithmetic doubtless was heavily weighted
limited time. It seems that the latter has generally been with rote learning for the pupils are said to have been
the line chosen, so that an observer tends to see mis- able to “count in hundreds, do additions, subtractions,
sion education as largely an unfortunate system in some multiplication tables and also simple divisions.”
which untrained or poorly trained people try to teach Reading was taught phonetically after the missionary
something that they do not themselves understand. By had established an alphabet to suit the Koiari language.
1923, this situation was beginning to arise in Papua in Sentences were put on the black board so that there
connection with Seventh-day Adventist education. The might be something to read and in reporting on condi-
pupils were beginning to look forward to being mission tions at the end of the seven months, it is said that,
teachers. The mission leaders were mindful of the “they are now beginning to read.” The third aspect of
places where people were beginning to desire teachers. the curriculum was Bible stories, which were taught
The people back in the villages were beginning to be every day and which were said to be greatly enjoyed by
conscious that schools had something for them. So we the pupils. The missionary was looking primarily for a
find Jones reporting, “It looks as if it will not be long change in attitudes and behaviour rather than in scho-
before we can place some of them [the twenty-one lastic or academic achievements. The work of educa-
schoolboys] in villages as primary teachers”6. He re- tion is seen by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to be
ports the bigger boys as saying, “We want more school essentially a matter of character development and with
that we may be mission teachers before Jesus comes.” 7 this is associated the mental development that is more
The desire of the people for a school and teacher is generally looked upon as the role of education. So a
thus expressed “These people accepted what I told good deal of the comment made by Jones on the work
them as they wanted a school. They selected the land of the school bears on this, point. The youth of the
and are now at work on the school building”.8 This was Koiari people are described as “a wild lot. They have
reinforced a year later by the further report, “The peo- full charge over their parents...They have never been
ple four days in the mountain interior from here, to corrected...These people are from the Koiari tribe, a
whom we promised a missionary, and who in anticipa- wild people who are the terror of the peoples around
tion built a school house one year ago, are still wait- them...Some of the young men gave us a lot of trou-
ing.”9 It is easy to see from this that the education of ble.”11 “They were unruly and almost unmanageable,
the first Papuan Seventh-day Adventist Mission teach- sometimes, running away in gangs for merely nothing
ers was not to be a long drawn out affair. When the but more often from downright home-sickness and for
alternative is considered— village people in disappoint- the freedom of their old life.12 A picture emerges of the
ment turning their backs on the opportunities they Koiari young man, undisciplined, self-willed, ready for
were once ready to welcome; students isolated so long violence, steeped in ideas of sorcery, yet with attractive
from the society they should be ready to help that they qualities also evident for he was subject to homesick-
are foreigners among their own people; and the mis- ness and felt quite strong ties of family affection. Jones
sion stagnating because it gives no work and responsi- was not unaware of this aspect in the lives of his schol-
bility to its converts for many years—there is little ars for he wrote, “I had supposed they were a thought-
question that it is right to allow the unready teachers to less, unloving people, but am now convinced to the
do what they can for their people. This may be the time contrary.”13 He saw signs of family affection on the
to suggest that there could, perhaps, have been an at- part of both children and parents as he moved among
tempt to catch the best of both sides by more actively them to enrol pupils for his school. He was at pains to
encouraging certain of the more capable students to foster this family feeling, sending pupils home at times
gain a fuller education than was generally offered, so when their parents were sick and taking pupils from the
that there would have been a group of workers capable school with him when he went to visit in their villages
of providing leadership at an earlier date. However, it so that parents might not lose touch with their chil-
would have required a very keen eye to detect this need dren.
in 1922 in the conditions then prevailing. The close link between the school and the reli-
gious or spiritual aspects of the mission program is
The School and its Effects on the Pupils pointed out by Jones when, after relating some of the
When we wish-to know just what subject matter trouble he had had with the Koiari students he said,
“When they first came to school we began to now are at work on the school building. They are wait-
teach them to work. Then we taught them to pray and ing for a missionary to go right up into the moun-
the worst of it was over.”14 tains.”16 Later he wrote, “The people four days in the
Again he notes the change beginning to develop mountain interior from here to whom we promised a
by saying, “the Bible stories which are taught every day missionary and who in anticipation built a school house
are much enjoyed by them and they are not as unruly a year ago are still waiting.”17
and unmanageable as they were at first”15
1 Missionary Leader, Jul 1922, vol 10, no 7, p l.
Looking Out from Bisiatabu 2 ibid, vol 10, no 12, pp 1, 2.
Having succeeded in invigorating the school pro- 3 Australasian Record, 30 Oct 1922, p 67.
gram at Bisiatabu, having won the confidence of the 4 ibid. 22 Oct 1923, p 3.
Koiari people so that they were willing to send their 6 ibid, 30 Oct 1922, p 92.
young people along to the school and having begun to 7 ibid, 22 Oct 1923, p 3.
8 ibid, 30 Oct 1922, p 68.
develop a group of young people into prospective
9 ibid, 22 Oct 1923, p 3.
teachers or missionaries, Jones next began to look 10 ibid, 30 Oct 1922, p 92.
more definitely for further locations where he might 11 ibid, p 62.
12 ibid, p 92.
establish schools. As early as October 1922, Jones re- 13 Missionary Leader, Dec 1922, vol 10, no 12, pp 1,2.
ported on contacts he made with the more inland peo- 14 Australasian Record, 30 Oct 1922, p 67.
ple. He said, “These people accepted what I told them 15 ibid, p 92.
16 ibid, 23 Oct 1922, p 68.
as they wanted a school. They selected the land and 17 ibid, 22 Oct 1922, p 3.
L ETTERS & WHAT READERS ARE SAYING
“We are eager to delve into all its pages.” M M—USA
“It is most valuable resource material for the people of
Corrections the Pacific, especially students.” P P—Am. Samoa
List of missionaries in Fiji
On the back page of the December 2002 issue, please “I do not want to miss my copy.” A L—Fiji
note that the correct order of names in the front row of “Keep up the good work.” W M also C M—NSW
the picture is: Stratford, Wilkinson, Dyason, & Gray.
My apologies. Thanks to the observant readers who drew “Enjoyed the article about the Currow family written by
my attention to the mistake. Editor Steve Currow…I understand the other side of the story
now.” C D (LLU)—USA
A Formidable Task
“Pastor Gominus’ wife worked with me for five years in “The missionary advance in Malaita, and the evacuation
Rabaul...Her name is rightly Lyn, not Lydia. She was a during the war, particularly interested me.” L M—NSW
very bright woman indeed.” Pr Lester Hawkes. “We greatly enjoy the Journal.” M M—Vic
“Have enjoyed every line in every article and have appre-
“We have enjoyed reading them all” R S—Qld
ciated the efforts of all the contributors...Arnold Reye, an
outstanding historian...all the research on war time evac- “Congratulations on a great effort.” D S—NSW
uations...a most comprehensive coverage.” R F—USA
The Keeper of Our Heritage
The South Pacific Division Avondale College Heritage Collection has received some
interesting items which I must tell you about:
* Some wood and nails from the HMS ‘Bounty’. (The ‘Bounty’ was in the sea for 143
years from 1790 until the rudder was discovered and raised in 1933.)
* Two CDs which include details and photographs of Pastor Len Barnard’s early
days at Mt Hagen Hansenide Colony and work in PNG.
Rose-lee Power * A Fijian hymnal (Nai Vola ne Sere) and a Samoan hymnal (I Viiga Le Atua).
* ‘Advent Radio’ and ‘Voice of Prophecy’ radio scripts (1943-1950).
Over the end of the year we have been very busy housing over five and a half thousand 35mm slides
and numerous film strip sets. By the time you read this we will have housed most of the 35mm nega-
tives. The next step will be to identify each item. This may take some time!
To everyone who has sent us documents, photographs and other items a very big “Thank you”.
Please keep sending us material because the heart of an organisation's memory is in its Heritage Collec-
tion. If you would like to contact me please write to:
SPD Avondale College Heritage Collection, PO Box 19, Cooranbong, NSW 2265, Australia
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 61 2 49 802 133 Fax 61 2 49 802 137