The National, Monday 20th May 2013
By CARMELLA GWARE
MORE than 400 villagers from Maka witnessed the reopening of their community school that had been closed for 20 years by the Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program.
Maka Community School located along the shores of Lake Murray in Western has two teachers, two local teacher aides and 260 students from Grades 1 to 4.
A teacher told The National during the opening on May 10 that during the 20 year period of closure, none of the villagers had access to education until last week when children and adults rushed to get enrolled.
“The oldest students are 22 years old and are either in Grades 3 or 4.
“There were no entry tests. They just walked up to us and said “Mi laik stap lo Greid 4 (I want to do Grade 4)” and we placed them there.
“Students all across the board are taught basics like ABC and counting; there is no difference between one grade and the next.
“This village can only be reached by boat so it is a hassle travelling back and forth. That is the reason why the villagers never bothered to take their kids to school until now.
“Besides we do not have a lot of money to hire dinghies which are more than K200.
“We live on what the environment provides, especially barramundi from the lake and sago.”
The chief executive officer of PNGSDP David Sode said “This project stems from a fact-finding visit by PNGSDP in 2011 when the community expressed a strong desire to reopen the school.
“We contributed K280,000 when the Maka community approached us with a rehabilitation plan which included the free provision of gravel for concrete, free labour and free local transport and logistics.
“They have made a very large contribution to the success of this project and have given us hope that our Development Hub concept will be a success and can be transplanted to other communities.”
The completed first stage of the project consists of a new double classroom, a renovated double classroom, desks and blackboards, two teachers’ houses and a rainwater harvesting system for teachers and students to use.
It is estimated that the total value of the project is more than K500,000 and the school is now run by the Seventh-Day Adventist church.