By PETER WARI
NOT too many girls living in remote villages reach tertiary institutions – that is, if they ever get an education.
It remote areas where there are no high and secondary schools, girls cannot risk traveling miles through rough terrain to reach one.
In fact, they will be lucky to complete primary school. Most are forced to get married and start a family early.
One of the lucky ones is Edna Hewabe, 16, from Olabia village in the Bosave Local Level Government of the Nipa-Kutubu district, Southern Highlands.
She was the only girl to completed Grade Eight at the Muluma Primary School last year. She was given a special prize by MP Jeffry Komal.
“I am honoured and privileged to receive the award and shake hands with the MP. I think no female student had ever received such an award.”
Head teacher Ipini Tindipe explained that three girls including Edna had started the academic year in Grade Eight. But the others dropped out of school one by one to get married.
Edna herself was told her relatives to get married but she refused, opting to complete Grade Eight first.
“ I am honoured and privileged to receive the award and shake hands with the MP. I think no female student had ever received such an award.”
The school resumed classes last year after it was closed following the earthquake which affected Southern Highlands and other provinces.
After eight years of education at the five primary schools in the LLG, those selected to continue to Grade Nine then have to cross the fast-flowing Tagali River on raft, walk for three to four days to reach Waro village, then catch transport to reach the Kutubu Secondary School.
This has hindered the progress of students such as Edna to make it to tertiary institution.
Tindipe hopes that one day, there will be a high school built in Bosava. It will make it easier for families in the area to allow girls to continue their education past Grade Eight.
The school uses the tuition fee-free funds to buy medicine from Mt Hagen as there is none available in the health facilities nearby.
Komal hopes to invest more in education to ensure more educated people contribute to development in the district. He will continue to support schools with infrastructure development.
The school held a ceremony for Edna and the 15 male students last month after they passed the Grade Eight examination.
Komal urged parents and relatives to let girls such as Edna complete their education at the highest level.
They must not be forced to get married early.
“Times are changing and education is one of the hope that will change the LLG.”
Komal will in this year’s budget will allocate K100,000 for airfares and continue to support schools, health facilities, churches and the people.
He urged parents to support girls in their education and encourage them to reach the highest level they can get to.
Girls such as Edna are keen to get an education and compete with boys on a level playing field.
They deserve to be given the same opportunity as boys.
Edna, head teacher Tindipe and MP Komal agree on that.