BY JEFFREY ELAPA
WITH an aim to producean educated population, the Kerema District Development Authority led by chairman and MPRichard Mendani hasbeen heavily investing in human resources over the last four years.
Mendani has a vision that one day his backward district will be in the front line with other provinces like Enga, who started some 20 years ago in investing so much in education.
He believes that it’s not too late for his district but there is a starting point where the needs of his district and his people are met through district priorities after years of neglect.
He said he has seen the sacrifices and the needs of his people and wants to fulfil their desire to have educated children in their respective families and communities.
While there is a huge demand for more developments, he has already delivered for his district through school infrastructures, the new road linking Malalua and Kaintiba and the electrification project that he had initiated.
He has spent more than K3.4 million on the Malalua-Kantiba road; another K500,000 worth of projects were delivered to several contractors for infrastructure development in the district through District Service Improvement Programme funds.
Despite isolation and other service delivery impediments, he is determined to contribute to the socio-economic development of his people to improve their lives.
In an effort in improve the image of the district headquarters at Malalua, the DDA, has funded several major projects. Two weeks ago, a cheque of over K298,000 was delivered to William Kaliyati, the managing director of Tag Energy Ltd for the installation of solar street lights around Malalua town.
Another cheque of K258, 817 was delivered to Gairo Thoa, the managing director of Central Ace Ltd for the construction of two classrooms for Vamai and Murua Primary Schools in the Central Kerema LLG area.
The DDA also presented a cheque of K157,024 to Chris Enara of Pacific Property Professionals for the erection of two classrooms for Uritai and Malalua Primary Schools.
Mendani says another 20 primary schools in his district will also see new classrooms coming up in the next couple of years during his term.
“While embarking on the physical needs of the district, I also want to develop my human resources who will contribute something back to the district, province and the country,” he said.
Mendani said having realised the need of his people, he initiated and founded the Kerema Human Resource Development Foundation Inc, an organisation that will be responsible for facilitating the district vision in developing human resources.
In 2018, more than K1.4 million was allocated to assist students from Kerema attending tertiary institutions throughout the country.
Julius Kamari, the coordinator of the foundation and Sere Eli, the public relations officer, said the programme has been a success story as many disadvantaged students from this remote part of the country have managed to peruse further studies.
He said among the many students, one person who came back to acknowledge the assistance was Martin Johnathan who completed the Master in Leadership Management programme at the Divine Word University this year.
Kamari said a lot of students have also realised the important initiative of the local MP as it relieved the burdens of poor parents who are not able to generate enough money to pay tuition and lodging fees.
Kamari said in total, about 30 institutions through PNG and a couple overseas have benefitted from the scheme.
He said the foundation contributed75 per cent of the total tuition and lodging fees for each student.
Since the establishment of the programme in 2017, more than 500 students from the district have benefited from it.
Eli said the MP wanted to see a good number of educated people from his district knowing that the benefits of those investment would have a greater impact on the society and the country at large.
Mendani says his vision and dream is to produce some of the finest intellectuals in the areas of accounting, ICT, law, human resource management, economics, medicine, engineering and other specialised skills in teaching, nursing, management, public administration and technical trades.
He says his dream is to put his citizens up in the skies as pilots, in the earth as geologists digging up valuables from rocks, in the seas as marine biologists and in the classrooms as teachers or nurses in the district and rural health facilities serving their own people.
He says his DDA funds the Kerema Human Resource Development Foundation to carry out its mandated responsibilities of coordinating and facilitating a transparent and accountable tertiary student’s assistance scheme.
Mendani says while the National Government is paying for the elementary to the secondary level, his district through the foundation wants to be fair by subsiding tertiary fees for its students.
He says the poor parents in remote communities can hardly find K1,000 annually to pay for their children’s fees and that is where his district comes in to relieve them of the burden.
“I want to set some legacy in my district to empower my people to live among the educated population as was some years back. We have students who come from the hinterlands who can hardly fund their education, so we are stepping in to assist them through the foundation I started for the people.”
He says he is impressed that International Training Institute (ITI) and other institutions through PNG have entered into a partnership and agreement to assist the students from his district as he believes the future of the country depends on an educated population.
Jonathan says he is grateful to the Kerema District Human Resource Development Foundation Inc. for assisting him to complete his studies and graduate with a Master in Leadership Management from the Divine Word University.
He says it is a success story as he was relieved from his financial difficulties.
He says a strong leadership is needed to ensure equal shared benefits are enjoyed by all people in remote local level government areas of Kotidanga, Kaintiba and Lakekamu where accessibility, human development and socio-economic remain very low.
He says the development of the programme initiated through the foundation is a super model for the district that many others can emulate.
ITI student Moreveta Abraham also thanked Mendani for his initiative to assist the disadvantaged students that struggled to find sponsors as their parents could hardly find money to pay for their full tuition and lodging fees.
She said the sponsorship has given her hope in life to pursue her desired career.
More Kerema students will be looking forward to the scholarship in the 2019 academic year.
BY JEFFREY ELAPA