Help with a bridge

Normal, Weekender

The National, Friday 7th September, 2012

On Sunday braving the gusty wind the parents of Grade Nine students at the Ju¬bilee Catholic Second¬ary School gathered to listen to the concerns of the principal and deputy principal.
The parents sat on the terrace, an awkward space between the class¬rooms, to hear the teach¬ers’ concerns regarding the students’ general academic performance, lack of discipline, late¬ness, noise, enforcement of reading habits and other matters.
The parents were then directed into the four classrooms where their children take their les¬sons. They introduced themselves to the class pastoral teachers who coordinated this part of the programme.
The parents were asked to nominate a chairperson, a deputy chairperson, and a treas¬urer. The committee that was appointed was im¬mediately tasked to raise funds for the building of the school hall.
The hall will be used for multiple activi¬ties such as assembly, sports, graduations and academic activities.
Here is a school with a need. It is working with its parents and guardians to raise funds to con¬struct a multi-purpose hall for its students. Ju¬bilee Catholic Second¬ary is not waiting for government handouts or cooperate sponsor¬ship to assist the school to build a multi-purpose hall, classrooms, and teacher’s houses.
It’s such a shame that the government and co¬operate houses around it or next to it are giv¬ing their backs to this wonderful school that has a reputation as a top school with high turno¬ver in national selec¬tions every year.
Do business houses have a cooperate re¬sponsibility towards their neighbourhood or surrounding communi¬ties? I wish. At least a bridge between the school, across the drain that separates the Jubi¬lee Catholic Secondary School and the MVTIL and a host of business houses should have been built to allow the safe flow of students on their way to and from school every day.
Without a bridge the students have to descend into the drain to cross on rocks placed be¬tween the dirty water. It is a dan¬gerous spot and has been a site of many conflicts between the stu¬dents and op¬portunists who charged them to cross the drain when it floods. The drain itself has be¬come a danger to the lives of the students. Students have experi¬enced various kinds of assault and threats from unwanted elements operating in that spot. Many female students have endured assault from opportunists using the drain as a haven for criminal acts.
What parents can¬not be affected by this threat and hazard to their children attending the school? The parents raised this concern with the school. The prob¬lems, as the parents found out, on raising this concern, was that the National Capital Dis¬trict authorities need to authorise permission for a bridge to be build and for financial assistance to go towards building this bridge. In every rea¬sonable person’s view the NCD authorities, government agencies, and the business houses next to the school are neglecting their duties to the community where their business operate.
It is not too much to ask for a small bridge to be built so that the school children of Ju¬bilee Catholic Second¬ary, the public and uses of the medical centre in that area can use it without fear of intimi¬dation, harrassment, or accidents. The danger posed to school children and the public using this drain without a bridge between the school and the business houses is that it raises legal con¬cerns that cannot be ig¬nored.
If parents and guard¬ians are willing to raise funds to build a multi-purpose hall then what is a small bridge to them? It is a question that NCD authorities, the govern¬ment agencies, and the corporate businesses operating in the precinct need to answer as well. Do they promote values of responsible cooperate entities and agencies? Do they have any obli¬gations at all to the com¬munity?
Mrs. Bernadette Ove, the intrepid principal of the school, was the first principal when the school began in early 2000s. She is still the solid pillar and leader of the school. She has worked very hard to see the school develop from what used to be the Ho¬hola Clinic and WHO headquarters to what it is now: a top Catholic secondary school in the country.
Ove has led the school from nothing to some¬thing in the eyes of the nation, especially in the eyes of parents and guardians who had seen their children pass through the school over the years. To parents and guardians of current students and those who will attend in the future Ove has proven to eve¬ryone that it is possible to build a school on the rocks hills of Hohola in Port Moresby without worrying about how it will develop.
The secret is: prayer, faith, and spirit of the patron saint of the school. In prayer the needs of the school and its students are given to God. In faith the school is producing some of the best students in the country. In spirit of the patron saint the school is overcoming the chal¬lenges and short-com¬ings of its short history, of being where it is, and what it can do with the geographical, economic, and political constraints it is presented with.
The school still uses the same old buildings for all its classes. It has no new classrooms even though the demand for enrolment every year has increased. The school is creative in its use of space it has as was evident with the terrace between the two building blocks used as classrooms and offices.
During the National Book Week the school gathered in the open space under the sun to brave its heat and the gusty wind to complete the event. As the guest writer of that event I presented four of my books to the school.
The Jubilee Catholic Secondary School needs a stand-alone school li¬brary for its students.
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