Cult on the rise? Students' perspectives on cult issues in secondary and national high schools in Papua New Guinea
Drawii, J. T. (2008). Cult on the rise? Students’ perspectives on cult issues in secondary and national high schools in Papua New Guinea (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2239
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2239
In the last five years there has been a dramatic increase in perceived levels ofantisocial behaviour amongst students in Secondary and National High schoolsin Papua New Guinea. Certain events have caught the public's attention, suchas the burning down of school buildings and reports of Satanic worship.Despite widespread concern, there seems to be little understanding of why suchproblems are occurring and no systematic studies to estimate the exact extent ofsuch behaviours or their underlying cause.The main objective of this study was to collect information about thestudents' perspectives on the nature and extent of these perceived problems. Forethical reasons, and with regard to ease of access to participants within the timeframe of the study, data were collected from the first year student teachers atMadang Teachers' College, Papua New Guinea, who had beenSecondary/National High school students only a few months previously. As thiswas an exploratory investigation, and it was not known whether participantswould feel more at ease talking one-on-one with the researcher or in groups,two methodologies were used: focus group discussions and individualinterviews. The research was conducted over a period of three weeks in June2007, and involved a total of 21 participants (three focus groups of five, fiveand six people respectively, and six individual interviewees, one of whom alsojoined a group).The main findings to emerge from these discussions were as follows.First, the participants explained their own and other students' behaviour in termsof exploring old and new traditions of school life. Second, although severalparticipants reported knowledge of supernatural practices, many of the groupactivities described in the discussions were normal activities among peer cliquesthat provided a sense of belonging and positive support for school achievement.There were no major differences in the stories told by male and femaleparticipants, and no obvious differences in the type of information providedunder different research conditions.There was some disagreement among participants as to whether or not schoolauthorities should take strong action to eliminate the possibility of cultpractices.The findings are interpreted with reference to both Westernpsychological ideas about the nature of adolescence, and to local traditions,practices, and understandings of lifespan development. In particular, the notionof 'searching for identity' stands out in these accounts of student behaviour.This was an exploratory study and not designed to yield results thatprovide an overall picture of the situation in the Secondary/National Highschools of Papua New Guinea. Nevertheless, participants' reports did relate toevents experienced in the majority of PNG Secondary and National Highschools, and some recommendations are tentatively offered.
The University of Waikato
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