By MICHELLE AMBA
Banz Lutheran Day High School in Jiwaka is one of the new schools set up to cater for the increasing number of students that pass out of primary schools every year.
Just five years in operation, the school’s fourth Grade 10 graduation last Friday (Nov 2) coincided with the opening of two residential duplexes which will now accommodate four teachers.
With the Government’s tuition fee-free (TFF) Policy, student enrolments in primary schools have increased compared to pre-TFF days.
When the Department of Education asked Joseph Tai to take charge of this new school in 2014, there was nothing, no infrastructure except 200 students and five teachers apart from Tai himself.
“When I came here, there was nothing but 200 students who were to do Grade 9 at this new school we now know as Banz Lutheran Day High School. We rented a resource centre building for K1,500 per month .There was no teacher position, all six positions where borrowed positions. At times I thought of giving up but I wanted to make a change, to see this new school progress, so I stayed on,” says Tai.
Today he is one proud man, saying he is not even thinking of leaving. With four brand new teachers’ houses and eight classrooms built over the past four years, Tai plans on having another building that will serve as a science laboratory and administration building. He says the commitment and sacrifice by the teaching staff and board of management have seen the school achieve great results in less than 10 years.
He says with the teachers’ houses up, he expects academic results to improve.
Students at the school have come from competitive primary schools like Banz Elcong but teacher performance at the school was not at its best due to in-house issues such as accommodation and office space for teachers to do their work, the headmaster points out.
“This year one of our Grade 10 female students came first in the province (Jiwaka) in the English examination. I am always confident with my students; despite not having proper facilities like the established schools, they still perform. Our former students who have made it to secondary schools have come out as top students in their new schools,” says the head teacher.
“Since our first graduation the school has maintained consistency in sending 30 to 40 per cent of Grade 10s to secondary schools in Jiwaka.
Banz Lutheran Day High School was born after a council resolution in 2012. The school was purposely established to take in students from six feeder schools in Banz LLG including, Jim Taylor, St Edward, Karmal, Bomil, St Anslem and Banz Elcong.
The need for a new school was an idea put forward by councilor and community leader Morgan Mombol who has been serving as board chairman since 2014.
“In 2012, during a Banz LLG meeting I raised the idea of establishing a new high school in the LLG, and my idea was supported by all the councilors. A second meeting was held in 2013 and attended by all head teachers and chairmen of the feeder schools and a proposal was presented to the then Western Highlands Provincial Education Division,” Mombol recalls.
“Our dream became a reality in January 2014, when we received notice that the School was given the green light to operate.”
Mombol says he has a greater vision for the school and that is to have its status elevated to secondary level by 2020.
“Our children cannot continue to be day students, at existing Fatima and Waghi Valley secondary schools. Parents cannot afford daily transportation costs. That’s why we need a day secondary school to meet this need.
“Jiwaka does not have day secondary school so we would like to make history here at Banz Lutheran Day High. Our aim next year is to have another duplex to accommodate our teachers and a science lab for science classes. We would also decide a name for the school next year; the board will decide whether or not there should be a name change,” the chairman says.
The school has seen infrastructure developments through TFF funding and a parents’ assistance fee.
“We would like to thank the Jiwaka Provincial Government and especially, Governor Dr William Tongamp for his endless support in bringing this school to this level. The first double classroom was funded by the provincial government through a funding assistance of K250 000. That was the first infrastructure here. Today the school has four double classrooms the rest funded through TFF and project fees,” Mombol says.
The head teacher urged parents and guardians to assist the school by paying up their project fees. He said the school depended mostly on project fees for infrastructure development, uniforms, students’ lunch and general expenses.
Stakeholders, especially those from the church agency and the provincial government have called on North Waghi District Development Authority to partner with others in developing the institution.
Jiwaka principal education advisor, Erwin Wus, congratulated the Lutheran Church and parents both past and present for their continued contributions towards the development of the new school.
“I would like to challenge North Waghi District Development Authority to work with other stakeholders in developing the schools’ infrastructure,” Wus says.
“I am asking if the DDA could come to the assistance of the school by putting up a classroom and teachers’ house.”
- Michelle Amba is a freelance journalist.