By JINA AMBA
EDUCATION is vital so some non-government organisations are keen to provide education services to unfortunate children in settlements in the country.
Gateway Christian School in Port Moresby provides education to mothers and children from settlements in Wild Life and Boroko.
According to project administrator Monica Koama, the Children’s Fund programme started in 2008.
There was an Australian couple who came and started the programme in 2008 where they trained the locals.
They were here for four years and went to the settlements training mothers.
The programme is called the “mothers and toddlers” programme that includes children from below a year to five years.
“They come to our church and, every Friday, we teach them about health and hygiene and how mothers can take care of their children and we do awareness,” Koama said.
The programme is aimed at children who have been left with relatives, who live with aunts and uncles or grandparents because their mothers and fathers have left them.
Koama said the children and guardians who came on Fridays were fed and taught.
The programme was maintained by Koama and others after the Australian couple left.
“From 2010 to 2016, we were running the programme as early childhood care,” Koama said.
“We get women from the programme and train them to become early childhood teachers.
“Those are mothers from the settlements, so we put them in the early childhood schools, which are run by Digicel or Ginigoada, to get some training, come back and look after their own kids.”
Koama said their work was voluntary and they were not paid.
“We do give them K10 or K20 a day but, at the end of the day, those are their own kids so they have this passion and commitment to be with the kids they look after.”
Koama said community interest in the programme had risen with more children joining with 50-60 children attending every Friday.
They then started a two-day programme – Mondays and Wednesdays. “We took them as a little class, they come to school two days and then Friday, we run the other programme (mothers and toddlers),” Koama said.
She said their programme in Boroko and Moitaka helped students from settlements get ready for primary school.
“So far, we have graduated four grade twos and sent them to the mainstream schools and now they are doing grade seven,” she said.
“Those kids who graduate from our school do well in system schools.”
Koama said this had seen more parents in the settlement sending their children to the programme.
Despite not having adequate facilities or materials and equipment, Koama said they were thankful for the support they had received from Australian missionaries and volunteers to build classrooms and raise funds.
She said Brian Bell was their major sponsor and they received donations and funds from Holiday Inn, Steamships, the Kiwi club and Deloitte.
“We depend on fundraising alone,” she said.
“So far, we have two double classrooms and four single classrooms.
“We charge K200, we call it the parents’ contribution fee.
“We supply two sets of uniforms, lunch for the children and stationery. Parents only buy shoes and socks.”
The school has 13 full time teachers.
Gateway Christian School is a partnership between Gateway Children’s Fund (PNG) Inc, Gateway Christian churches (PNG) Inc, Gateway church (Australia) Ltd and Global Development Group, an Australian AusAID approved NGO carrying out quality humanitarian projects with approved partners and providing aid to relieve poverty and providing long-term solutions.
By JINA AMBA