By DOROTHY MARK
MORE than 1000 villagers forced to leave their island during a volcanic eruption say their young people need a school.
The Dugulava villagers on Manam Island in Madang had been affected by volcanic eruptions since 2004 – the most recent was in April this year.
They are calling on the government to rebuild the primary school in the village so that they all catch up on their education.
Almost all the young people have missed out on any form of formal education.
“Those children were yet to start school before the 2004 eruption,” villager John Wadamong said.
“And those born after the eruption in the care centres and here in the village cannot read and write.
“There’s going to be a wide gap now between the educated population of this village and the next educated group.
“And the longer it takes to build a school in the village, the wider the gap grows. This is one of the major concerns leaders of this village have apart from health, water and food shortage.”
Village councillor Paul Maburau said they were relocated after the 2004 eruption to Tobenam care centre in Bogia.
Some of their children managed to go to school at Busip and Banara.
But the distance they had to walk to school was too much. Many gave up.
Maburau said they also had an ethnic clash with the landowners at Tobenam. They were sent back to their village on Manam.
“Many people died during the fight but then there was a cholera outbreak in 2009 and 21 people from our village died leaving their children who now face the problem of being orphans and uneducated,” Maburau said.
He said the provincial education board then decided to open the Bokawa Primary School on the island early this year and sent three teachers. But they all left before the volcano erupted again in April.
By DOROTHY MARK