Perspectives of Papua: Education and cultures in crisis

Prof Mervyn Hyde

University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia


The Indonesian Province of Papua is the lowest ranked on most demographic, health and education indicators among the 38 provinces of the Republic of Indonesia. Against UN criteria, there is widespread poverty, low rates of literacy, school engagement and completion, and systemic health problems and cultural conflict. This does not tell the whole story, however.  Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) has around 4 million inhabitants living within seven major indigenous cultural groups, using over 250 separate languages and thousands of associated dialects and creoles. More than 85% of the Papuan population is Christian, with a largely Moslem nation. Papua has a daunting natural environment and contains the largest remaining rainforest in the world, with the only remaining glacier on the Equator. The crises within Papua stem from conflicts among their historical, spiritual, environmental, cultural, social, linguistic and educational contexts. This presentation reports on a series of Australian studies designed to better understand, recognise and respond to the massive diversity within Tanah Papua with forms of differentiated education and curriculum that value the traditions and values of indigenous students and their communities.



Brief Bio

Professor Emeritus Merv Hyde in his early career was a teacher and special school principal. Over the last 35 years he has been a teacher educator and developmental psychologist. He held senior positions at Griffith University, including Chair of the University Academic Board, Dean and Research Centre Director. He is Professor Emeritus of Griffith University and was foundation Director of the International Projects Group and the School of Education at the University of the Sunshine Coast. He remains an active researcher with over 120 refereed manuscripts in the field of Inclusive Education with a strong focus on developing nations and students facing discrimination or exclusion. He has been a World Bank and Australian Aid lead consultant on many large projects and has worked in Turkey, Thailand, Mongolia, Malaysia, Indonesia, USA, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Fiji, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway.  He was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to education in Australia and Indonesia