By JUNIOR UKAHA
MANDO Lutheran Primary School is one of the oldest in Eastern Highlands.
The school, located in the Lower Asaro Local Level Government (LLG) in Daulo district, was built by the Lutheran Church missionaries in the 1960s.
The school is tucked away neatly in the meandering Mando Valley.
On one end, it is sheltered by the towering Daulo mountain range and on the other side it reaches out to the Asaro station.
Children from a number of villages from the wards one, two and three areas attend the school.
They include Korepa, Kofufa, Yamiufa, Ongorufa, Bush Mando, Sasone and Komunive among others.
The school currently has 21 teachers and more than 600 students.
In the colonial era, students came from as far as Watabung and Kofena just to get an education. The school has over the years produced many professionals, one of whom is current Eastern Highlands provincial administrator John Gimiseve.
Last Friday, this historical school achieved another milestone when it opened a new teacher’s residence, launched its School Learning Improvement Plan (SLIP) and received new computers from Rotary Australia.
The event was made special when two guests of honour, local MP Pogio Ghate and Eastern Highlands Governor Peter Numu graced the occasion with their presence.
Other important people who were present at the occasion included Gimiseve, district administrator Tobby Samo, senior standards officer for education Mupe Kaupa and Lutheran Church Goroka district president John Noibano.
Though the programme started a bit late, about 300 parents, students and other community members turned up for the occasion to show their support.
Students at the school formed cultural singsing groups and provided entertainment for the guests.
Other students, especially those attending lower primary (grades 3-6), had to bring food items to decorate the school. It was part of their school assessment, according to teachers.
The building, which is a duplex, was funded by the Daulo district development authority under the chairmanship of Ghate at a cost of K100,000.
It was built by local company Wemoho Civil Works and took about a month to complete.
Rotary Australia gave 15 computers worth about K40,000.
This is not the first time Rotary has assisted the school. It has previously given the school a four-in-one classroom and donated a number of books, furniture, tools and computers.
Spokesperson Lester Gunurei, on behalf of the school and community, thanked the district and donor for investing in the school.
Gunurei, however, stressed that it was the wish of the parents and community that the school be upgraded to a day high school next year.
He explained that this was because students in the wards one, two and three areas had to walk long distances to Asaroka Secondary School to get high school education.
“In a day our children who attend Asaroka Secondary School have to walk about 10 to 15km to the school and walk the same distance back,” Gunurei said.
“By the time the students get to the school they have used up much of their energy walking and they are tired and do not concentrate on their studies,” Gunurei said.
“Female students are the worst affected because of security concerns,” he said.
Gunurei added that when the Asaro River flooded students could not take the short-cut to the school.
“It is because of these reasons that we want this school to be converted into a day high school,” Gunurei said.
He said that in 2016 the provincial education board (PEB) had met and deliberated for the school to be converted into a high school.
“But till now we are yet to see that materialise,” Gunurei said.
Ghate, who spoke after Gunurei, acknowledged the difficulties faced by the students and said as a local from Mando he has seen the problem and has on many occasions assisted students from the area who attend Asaroka Secondary School.
“Before I became your MP, I knew of this problem. It is not a new thing to me,” Ghate said.
“I am now making a commitment to bring this school up to high school status.”
He said the school would take students from Samatoka, Korepa, Watabung and Yamiufa Primary Schools.
Governor Numu said he has taken note of the issue and would check with the PEB to task the appropriate officers to act on it.
Numu said education was important because it is the gateway to a good life.
“We must educate all our children. Everything rises and falls on education,” he said.
The governor committed K50,000 from his provincial services improvement programme funds to assist the school upgraded its facilities in preparation to be converted into a high school.
The programme ended with the governor opening the new duplex.
The duplex brings the number of teachers’ houses in the school to eight.
The school management hopes to see more teachers ‘houses built and all its teachers living in school premises to work.
Under their 2019-2021 plant they will convert one of theold school buildings into a computer lab and fit it with the donated computers.
If all goes well, the district will have two high schools and a secondary school by next year.
By JUNIOR UKAHA