By BENNY SANDEKA
MANEMANEA Primary School on the coastline of Hula in the Rigo District of Central Province this week remembered a great teacher, disciplinarian, a fighter for woman rights and underprivileged and above all, a mentor of ethical, responsible behavior.
He is none other than Allan Jones (not the Australian TV commentator). Allan Jones, from Adelaide in South Australia spent the best years of his life in Papua New Guinea - ten of them, in Hula where he was the headmaster of Manemanea Primary School.
Those ten years were not a total waste as his two nieces found out when they took a trip back to Hula and back in time to see where this great educator has spent his life. They were not surprised when people came out in numbers to tell how this great man has touched their lives during their association with him.
"He inspects us from head to toe every morning," one lady recalled. "When he finds that we have lice in our hair, he would push us into a bucket full of kerosene," she said.
Children who have long fingernails, he would use his cane, which he carries with him wherever he goes, and beat the fingers until the long fingernails come off. Girls with long unkempt hair are at the mercy of Allan Jones' scissors.
Many recalled that children would run off to their parents to seek refuge and ask them to face off with Allan Jones. But when they arrive at the school, Allan Jones often gave them a long lecture on what good his discipline will do to their kids in the years ahead.
Given the stand he took, many people not only feared him, but also respected and had a high regard for this great educator whose method of educating people is not only confined to the limits of his classroom walls.
Allan Jones also had a heart of a saint. Whenever children are in the classroom and he sees a poor old woman carrying heavy loads, he would suspend his entire class and ask the boys to help the elderly woman to wherever she is going. There are other times when Allan invites children to have dinner with him at his house. During the course of the dinner, he would instill in them table manners like "excuse me, pass the salt please" etc..
During the holidays, Allan Jones would take some children down to Australia. But one former student recalls, it was not all a vacation.
"After breakfast, he will ask us many questions about what we did not understand in school. We will sit down and read and write every morning during the vacation," the student recalled.
But despite these, a few remember lighter moments. There is a girl whom Allan Jones affectionately calls "Alice in Wonderland" for letting her mind slip off during class times and would not concentrate. Allan Jones also took her to Australia where she had a good time looking after his cats at his Adelaide home. Another, he affectionately calls "Joy Bells" because her name was Joy and that she was given the opportunity ringing the bells at appointed times.
Many stories of this great man about in Hula especially those who have been through Manemanea Primary School during his administration.
Having an impact in the hearts and minds of people with whom he has spent his best days of his life, Allan Jones' cremated remains were brought back by two of his great nieces, Kathee Bowyer and Louise Jeffery to be laid among the people whom he has inspired.
A memory was erected to his honour and the school in which he was ruled with ultimate discipline was renamed after him - the Manemanea Primary School now being called, the Allan Jones Memorial School.
Rigo District Administrator, District Education Advisor and local level government president of the area where all there to witness 'home coming' of the late Allan Jones remains and change of name of the school.