By PETER WARI DWU journalism student
A SEVENTH-Day Adventist (SDA) church pastor from the Southern Highlands has called on the Government and ExxonMobil to give first priority to school leavers by providing employment opportunities for them.
Pastor Edward Peter, from Nipa, said many people involved in criminal activities were Grade 10 and Grade 12 drop outs who had no chance of proceeding onto tertiary institutions.
He said many youths from Nipa usually staged road blocks and held up innocent people travelling along the highway and the SDA church intervened several times to help clear the roadblocks.
Pr Peter said in 2008-09, many hardcore criminals had surrendered and repented because of the strong work of the church in the district.
He said the surrender of the hardcore criminals was witnessed by Nipa police, NBC Mendi and hundreds of people in the Nipa district and today, they took part in church and sporting activities.
He said this hard work by the church resulted in peace in the community and PMVs being able to travel freely.
“Those of us in the church did our part to change the people’s lives and now we are appealing to the Government and ExxonMobil to provide employment opportunities for the Southern Highlands school leaves.
“This will minimise the ongoing law and order problems in the province,” he said.
Pr Peter said the church had tried its best to change the people’s lives so that later there will be good relationship between the people and developer ExxonMobil when the multi-billion kina LNG gas project kicks off.
He said the project was the only opportunity churches were looking at for the betterment of the youths in Southern Highlands and the nation.
“We can not move forward unless we do something worthy for the school leavers,” he said.