By PETER WARI
SOME students who hope to secure spaces at tertiary institutions after completing Grade 12 feel let down when they are not accepted.
Even if they have acceptable grading point accreditation, there just is not enough space to accommodate them too. They have no choice but to join the school dropout group.
Jim Kanopali of Kendagl village in the Ialibu-Pangia district of Southern Highlands was one of them. But he reacted differently. After leaving Grade 10 at the Ialibu High School in 1981 (he blamed peer pressure), he went through the College of Distance Education and was accepted by the Mt Hagen Technical College in 1986 to be trained as a light vehicle mechanic.
He then worked with Mt Hagen Boroko Motors and received his apprenticeship trade certificate in 2003.
“In those days, the number of school dropouts was low. Only a few people were interested in pursuing life-skills training at TVET centres. But I am happy today that I made the right decision to learn trade skills.”
Jim, 54, is the third eldest in a family of eight – five brothers and three sisters. He has four sons and two daughters.
He went through grades one to six at the Kendal Primary School before attending Ialibu High.
“I regretted leaving school. I was seen as trash by my relatives. So I again did Grade 10 via CODE. And I am grateful to my family members who supported me to come this far.”
After school, he joined a band hired to perform at gatherings. He then worked for three companies in Mt Hagen from 2004 to 2013 before staying home for a year.
Provincial education adviser Joel Raitano then asked Jim if he wanted to teach others the trade skills he had learnt at TVET. He accepted the offer and was appointed a teacher at the Kepi TVET.
“It was the beginning of my career as a teacher in 2015. I love teaching students what I had learnt while working in those companies. Many students I taught have become successful themselves in the trade.”
He urged young people who view TVET centres as a place only for grades eight and ten dropouts, or who left school for personal reasons, to think again.
“Going to TVET is better than aimlessly roaming the streets and blaming the Government for not creating job opportunities.”
“ Going to TVET is better than aimlessly roaming the streets, blaming the Government for not creating job opportunities.”
He is happy in his work as a motor mechanic teacher at the Kepi technical vocational education training centre near Ialibu town.
“The unemployment situation in the country results in financial hardship and poverty, family tensions and breakdown, crime and erosion of confidence and self-esteem.”
He is currently collecting motorcycle parts and working on building a new one in his new garage. When it is ready in a few weeks’ time, he wants to be the first to travel along the Gulf-Southern Highlands Highway.
He hopes to further his education at University of Goroka when the opportunity arises.
“God created us for a purpose and we were born with gifts and talents. Never let the system destroy your confidence. Have a positive attitude and work hard.”