BY REBECCA KUKU
TEACHER Judy Karara never dreamt that one day she would reunite at the school with one of her former pupils she will always be proud of – one James Marape.
Now 64, and preparing to retire this year, she was Marape’s Grade Seven teacher at the Kabiufa Secondary School in Goroka, Eastern Highlands 33 years ago.
Prime Minister Marape visited his former school during a trip to Goroka last week, and met his former teacher.
Teacher Judy, from Koiari in Central, believes that she is the proudest teacher in the country.
“I never knew that one of my students would one day become the prime minister.
“I cried when he was first declared as the prime minister, and excitedly called all my children to inform them. I always use him as an inspiration to encourage my students.”
Karara, who will be retiring this year, began teaching at the Kabiufa Adventist Secondary School three decades ago as a young mother-of-one.
“My baby was just six months old when we moved here, and decided to stay. I now have two children and five grandchildren. We have made Kabiufa our home.”
Marape himself, when he was a student, never dreamt that one day he would return to Kabiufa Adventist Secondary as the country’s top honcho.
“I never dreamt that I would one day come back here as the prime minister.”
He was in Goroka last week to attend the Pangu Pati candidates’ campaign rally when he saw a video of him as a student at the school 33 years ago on social media.
So he decided to attend the Saturday church service at his old school and visited the classroom where the video was taken 33 years ago by a former teacher.
“Today, I stand here and say thank you to the school administration and the teachers who shaped me into the man I am today.
“If you ask me what years of my life mattered the most to me, it would definitely be my time here as a student.
“I was privileged to be a part of a mission-run school that didn’t just educate me but also equipped me with life skills and religious beliefs that continue to play an important role in my life.
“I was a student here. I sat in this classroom, ate at this mess and worked in those fields growing crops.”
He walked around the school compound after the church service and reminisced about his school days.
Marape, 51, is from Tari in Hela. His dad, a pastor, travelled with his family to other provinces. Marape attended Minj Primary School in Jiwaka before Kabiufa Secondary in Goroka.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of PNG in 1993, and a postgraduate Honours Degree in Environmental Science in 2000.
“ I never knew that one of my students would one day become the prime minister.”
He became Acting Assistant Secretary of Policy with the Department of Personnel Management from 2001 to 2006.
Marape is married to Rachael from East Sepik. They have six children.
He is a member of the Huli people, one of the country’s largest tribes and ethnic groups. Because his dad was a Seventh-Day Adventist Church pastor, Marape
still closely associates himself with the church.
As for his Grade Seven teacher Judy, she will retire from the noble profession knowing she was one of those who had groomed a future leader of the country.
“As a teacher, he (Marape) will always be my pride.”