PNG visit changes views


PAPUA New Guineans are friendly and respectful people, an Australian teacher says.
Benalla P-12 College teacher Tegan Vogel said she was moved by the respect and love that PNG students had shown during a recent visit to their partner school, Kerevat National High School.
“Some of the ideas we had about PNG before coming here through the media is not true because we came here and saw that PNG people are actually friendly and respectful,” she said.
“We were moved by the amount of respect and care given to us by the students, teachers and the community.”
A total of 12 Australian schools came to PNG last week under the PNG-Australia secondary school partnership programme with the aim to strengthen relationships between PNG and Australian secondary schools to build educational and leadership capabilities, and strengthen people-to-people and institutional links.
“In a wider view, it’s good to increase Australia’s knowledge about PNG and strengthen that connection,” she said.
“One highlight for me was the bond between the students.
“They were so inseparable and when we had to say goodbye there was many tears.”
Another Benalla teacher, Sangeeta Vashishta, said it was a life-changing journey for them and their students.
“We have leant a lot about PNG culture and we have also learnt a lot as teachers from our fellow Papua New Guinean schools and teachers,” she said.
“We can see that we have been able to make an impact on our partner school and in the long run both countries will benefit from each other’s knowledge, expertise and mutual understanding.”
The PNG-Aust secondary school partnership was jointly launched by PNG Prime Minister James Marape and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on July 22 in Canberra.
The 12 selected Australian schools were each given a partnership school or sister school in PNG.
The schools were selected based on their level of academic performance.
Benalla P-12 College in Victoria has pre-school to grade 12 and is located in the north-eastern part of the state, a two-hour drive from Melbourne.
Representatives from the 12 selected PNG schools will visit their sister school in Australia in November.

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