Culturally relevant pedagogy for social work learning in Papua New Guinea: Perspectives from the University of Papua New Guinea’s fieldwork programme

Dunstan Lawihin


INTRODUCTION: Social work education was introduced in the early 1970s in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and is still developing. Subsequently, its teaching and learning approaches have developed and, significantly, applied with greater flexibility than a standardised format although contemporary western methods predominate. 

METHOD: The centrality of the PNG context for culturally relevant social work education and the paradigms of pedagogy in field education are discussed. PNG worldviews of teaching and learning have links to similar educational and practice perspectives from the Melanesian region, Pacific and other relevant non-western contexts.

CONCLUSIONS: PNG’s ways of teaching and learning are yet to become formally integrated into contemporary social work education due to issues of credibility, relevance and quality assurance regarding professional social work values. The article argues for substantial integration and utilisation of traditional PNG-specific methods of teaching and learning in the delivery of social work education at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) as important steps in developing the profession in the country. Indigenous local knowledge and practices of teaching and learning should become integrated into formal classroom pedagogical strategies in social work. 


Melanesia; Papua New Guinea; cultural relevance; pedagogy; social work learning

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