The National, Thursday March 13th, 2014
A NEW lease of life has been given to the Papua New Guinea rugby league scene with the ‘League Bilong Laif’ (League for Life) programme.
The programme formerly known as the ‘Rugby League in Schools’ kicked off in February with 58 teachers graduating from the ‘League Bilong Laif’ teachers coaching course.
League Bilong Laif In-Country general manager Mark Mom said up to 500 teachers and 50,000 children would participate in the programme.
“You can learn many things by using rugby league that will help you in your life,” Mom said.
“League Bilong Laif highlights the importance of education for all Papua New Guineans and respect for each other and self.”
Funded by the Australian Government, League Bilong Laif will encourage healthy life styles for girls and boys while boosting their physical, social, reading and maths skills.
The Australian Sports Commission and the Australian NRL will deliver the programme in partnership with the Department of Education and PNG Rugby Football League.
The three-year programme includes clinics to develop physical skills and teamwork and learning materials such as rugby league-themed stories to improve literacy.
The program goes beyond sport, promoting team building, fair play and healthy lifestyles.
“In PNG, 30 per cent of children do not finish primary school. Through programmes such as this, Australia is helping PNG to support its children to stay in school longer and improve learning outcomes,” Minister for Development and Cooperation Stuart Schaefer said at the Australian High Commission.
The teachers training course introduces teachers to the programme and the key physical skills that students learn on the rugby league field.
In-classroom lessons show teachers how to use rugby league-themed stories to better engage students in areas including reading and writing.
Lead development officer Nigel Hukula said the course highlighted how the League for Life programme would have a long term positive impact on education.
More than 70 per cent of the teachers coaching attendees were women.
The teachers were from Philip Aravure Primary School (Gerehu), St Michael’s Primary School (Hanuabada) and St. John’s Primary School (Tokarara).
The League Bilong Laif programme operates in the National Capital District and will expand to East New Britain, Eastern Highlands and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in the coming months.