Using a transformative paradigm research approach to investigate guidance and counselling services in Papua New Guinea schools

Kravia, Kainaro Keikei (2016) Using a transformative paradigm research approach to investigate guidance and counselling services in Papua New Guinea schools. Professional Doctorate (Research) thesis, James Cook University.

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Providing a high quality education to more than 3 million children and young people in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is enormously problematic. Major challenges include a developing economy, debilitating corruption, lack of transportation infrastructure, and arguably the world's most diverse population, the majority of whom live in rural based customary communities. Combined widespread poverty, and burgeoning human rights issues surrounding gender inequality, family violence, physical and sexual abuse, health problems and disability stigma, all translate into a socio-political system where aspirations towards equality of opportunity are more rhetoric than reality.

This research project has been designed to explore authentic and achievable ways PNG guidance and counselling (G&C) services can be transformed to better enable PNG to provide a more appropriate education for its population. The research aspires to achieve this by using a transformative paradigm. This mixed methods approach combines qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to ensure the perspectives of those who are disadvantaged and marginalised are taken into account. The goal is to establish a more genuine and equitable foundation for social change that more accurately addresses the complexities of those being researched. This thesis comprises a portfolio comprising a literature survey and three research studies.

Guidance and counselling (G&C) services in western countries play a vital role in offering students suitable preventative, developmental, remedial and vocational support. In PNG, however, services are minimal, with one officer employed to cater to the needs of more than 60,000 students. Only very limited documentation on G&C services in developing countries is available, particularly for PNG. Because of this paucity, the review of the literature focused on the development of services in six countries: United Kingdom, United States of America, Australia, Nigeria, Brazil and Singapore. These countries where chosen because they are either pioneers in G&C, offer regional representation, provide insights into the influence of colonial history, and/or have similar political and economic contexts to PNG. Review findings indicate strong evidence of developed countries employing a programme model comprising comprehensive services, whereas developing countries follow a position model where services are vestigial.

The first study engages autoethnography to critically examine the researcher's lived experience. The researcher's 'insider' whole-of-life narrative of G&C involvement is re-examined through the theoretical lenses of bioecological systems and postcolonial theory. Elements of the author's culture and social structures that gave him the support to formulate and actualise his goals are highlighted. This study recommends incorporating these indigenous socio-cultural structures into G&C service design in ways that make them more wide-ranging and appropriate to the PNG school community. By so doing, this would help create a more comprehensive service that better meets each student's learning and developmental needs, thereby helping to transform G&C services in cost effective ways that are in line with international practices.

The second study employs a mixed methods survey questionnaire to investigate the scope and type of G&C services available in PNG compared with those in Queensland schools. Seventy years ago, when the Queensland education system launched their G&C service, like PNG, they adopted a position model. Over time, however, Queensland has moved to a comprehensive programme model, whereas PNG has stayed with the position model. The 37 question survey instrument contained Likert scale (n=28), closed (n=8) and open ended (n=1) questions. Forty-four participants actively working in G&C were selected through convenience sampling: PNG (n=30) and Queensland (n=14). SPSS Version 22 was used to analyse the quantitative data and content analysis was used with the qualitative data. Findings emphasise the substantial challenges facing PNG in its quest to modernise G&C services. Transformation towards a more culturally appropriate contemporary G&C service in PNG would require: changes to employer perception of G&C, improved staff training, expansion of the range and type of services across all levels of schooling, networking with relevant service agencies, and higher numbers of qualified personnel.

The third study uses a semi-structured qualitative interview method to appraise the current scope of G&C services in PNG compared to those available in Queensland schools. The study was designed to identify possible strategies that could be used to transform PNG G&C services. Goroka (PNG) and Townsville (Queensland) were chosen as study sites. Townsville was selected because the adopted PNG position model was a carbon copy of the 1970s Queensland Education System. Nine participants: PNG (n=5) and Townsville (n=4), all experienced people in G&C services, were chosen through purposeful sampling. An NVivo software package was used to analyse the data. Findings reveal that in order for PNG to provide comprehensive services, the following areas need attention: support students with special learning needs, support G&C programmes, professional training for guidance officers and counsellors, increased collaborative networking among relevant stakeholders, and the establishment a professional association.

Comprehensive G&C services have become increasingly more important as the educational, vocational, personal and social challenges facing children and young adults worldwide, become more complex. It is essential that G&C services are available as early as possible so that children are supported in their whole of school life development. Since school is an agency dealing with the training and development of children and young adults, it is regarded as a favourable environment for G&C services. A recommendation of this thesis is for the PNG Education Department to transform G&C services to meet students' holistic learning and developmental needs. The services will need to be culturally appropriate, socially just and internationally suitable to support students to reach their full potential without any discrimination based on their background, disability, ethnicity and belief. G&C is an integral part of education that can support a deeper and more pleasant form of human development, thereby helping to reduce poverty, discrimination, oppression, war and any other emergent barriers that inhibit the creation of a safe and happy society.

Item ID: 50114
Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate (Research))
Additional Information:

autoethnography, counselling, developing countries, education, guidance, indigenous socio-cultural structures, lived experience, Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinean schools, schools, social change

Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2017 00:11
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130305 Educational Counselling @ 50%
13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930599 Education and Training Systems not elsewhere classified @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939907 Special Needs Education @ 50%
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