By JINA AMBA
A NUMBER of private schools and organisations in Port Moresby and the country have been supporting and educating disadvantaged children, especially those in settlements.
In the national capital, two such schools that have been helping the underprivileged are New Literacy College and Gateway Christian School.
New Literacy College has been taking in orphans and less fortunate children to educate them for free while Gateway Christian School provides education to mothers and children from the settlements in Wild Life and Boroko.
Founder of New Literacy College Nana Natalie Tom said the school was established in 2017 to cater to the marginalised children through kindergarten to Grade 2 level learning.
It aims to serve this marginalised group of children so that they become good citizens in future and to make sure no child is left behind
Currently they have 41 students and four teachers. The founder who is from a mixed parentage of Chimbu and Madang works with Nasfund Contributors Savlings and Loan Society.
“I pay the teachers using my salary, however we charge a K50 administration fee to support them in whatever way we can.
The school administration is aware that nearly all of the students’ parents or guardians are not able to pay any form of fee .
“So we just keep them and teach them,” Tom said.
“In June 2019 Cole Group supported the school by paying the teacher’s salaries, however that ceased at the beginning of this year.”
Some business houses and individuals have helped the students, including Paradise Foods which sponsored the students to attend world Ice Cream Day last year. Founder of Jamsul Photography Hannah James took the students on a shopping trip for stationary.
Like any other organisation the school has faced some challenges.
“We have no proper facilities such as buildings, we need a container building such as those used by Buk bilong Pikinini. That would be ideal for our children and most of all conducive,” Tom said.
One of the success stories is students graduating from the school to feeder mainstream primary schools such as New Erima, Bomana and Evadahana.
“Parents of these students came back to tell us that their children had performed well, not only academically but most of all in good moral conduct which is enlightening to make us want to serve more.
“Last year we had six graduate and went to mainstream schools. This year will see 12 graduates which is quite a number,” she said.
Meanwhile, according to Gateway Christian, School project administrator Monica Koama, the school’s children’s fund programme started in 2008.
“A couple from Australia came and started the programme in 2008 and trained locals also. They have been here for four years and they’ve been to the settlements training mothers.
“This is a mothers and toddlers programme that includes children from 0-5 years old. They come to our church every Friday and we teach them about health and hygiene and how mothers would take care of their children and we also do awareness.
“The couple has seen that young mothers fell pregnant, gave birth and left the kids with relatives and went away. Some of these children grew up with relatives like grandparents, uncles, and aunts. The couple picked this group of people o and advised them how to raise the children.
“So they would come every Friday and we pay them, give something to eat and they take back the kids. So it has happened for four years, from 2008-2011,” said Koama.
“When the couple left the programme with the locals, a sister of mine and I took over the role of the couple.
“From 2010 to 2016 we were running that programme as early childhood care. We got the mothers from the programme andtrain them to become early childhood teachers.
“Those are actually mothers from the settlements so we put them in the early childhood schools which are run by Digicel Foundation or Ginigoada to get some training. They come back and they look after their own kids.
“That’s a volunteer-based thing, we don’t get paid. We appreciate them with K10, K20 for a day, at the end of the day those are their own kids so they have the passion and heart of being with the kids they look after. That’s how the programme started.
“In the community interest in the programme was growing, because most of the kids were coming so we were looking at about 50 to 60 children every Friday. Then we started a two-day programme for Mondays and Wednesdays.
“They came to school for two days and then on Fridays we ran the other programme for mothers and toddlers.
“Up until 2016 we got those kids who are ready to go to school, we teach them and graduate them to our partner school.
“Actually we have two programmes, one in Boroko and one in Moitaka which is right in the Wildlife settlement.
“So far we have graduated four Grade two students and sent them to the mainstream schools so now they are doing grade seven. Those kids who graduate from our school have topped their class.
“We see that many more parents want to enrol their kids in our school but we don’t have adequate facilities like classrooms and all of that. We don’t have enough funds. We basically run the programme through fundraising activities.
“Our team from Australia have volunteer to come and build classrooms and do more fundraising here.
“Brian Bell Group is one of our major sponsors. We also have the support of Holiday Inn, Steamships, Kiwi Club, and Deloittes. We depend on fundraising alone. So far we have two double classrooms and four single classrooms
“We charge K200 in fees which we call a parent contribution. We supply two sets of uniforms, lunch for the children and stationery. Parents only buy shoes and socks.”
Gateway Christian School has 13 full time teachers.
“lt is a partnership between Gateway Children’s Fund (PNG), Gateway Christian Churches (PNG), Gateway Church (Australia) Ltd and Global Development Group (an AusAid-approved non-governmental organisation carrying out quality humanitarian projects with approved partners and providing aid to relieve poverty and providing long term solutions).