SERVING as a minister of the gospel has rewards and challenges in equal measure.
Ask Henry Aplas, a pastor working in Port Moresby and he will tell of his love for his calling in the face of the realities of stuggling to provide for and educate growing children.
His service to the Assemblies of God Church has taken him away from his Yessan Village in Ambunti, East Sepik to Wewak, Menyamya in Morobe and the National Capital District where he is now.
Last Friday, his son Solomon graduated with a grade 12 certificate at Tokarara Secondary School after a going through a number of schools and interrupting his education for one year.
Henry and his wife Tabitha were both relieved and thankful when Solomon graduated with 237 others at the Tokarara Secondary School and they hope that daughter Jemimah would follow her sibling also.
Solomon started his education at the village elementary school and then the family was posted to the Turubu AOG church and later to the El Shadai Church in Boram, Wewak where Solomon did part of his primary education. When the family moved back to Yessan, Solomon completed grade five there in 2012. The following year, Ps Aplas was posted to the Menyamya AOG Church and his son did grade six at the primary school there.
When the family returned to East Sepik, Solomon did grades seven and eight at Parchi Primary School and moved to Maprik Secondary School for grades nine and 10. However, when Solomon was selected to do grade 11 at Kerevat National High School in East New Britain, the family could not afford the tution fees and related costs so he had to spend a year out of school while the father travelled to Port Moresby for further Bible school training.
Having found a home in the city, the pastor sent for the family. Solomon was enrolled at Tokarara Secondary School to do grade 11 last year while Jemimah was enrolled at the Tokarara Primary School. She is now in grade eight.
Solomon’s graduation was wonderful relief to the Aplas family.
“We have had difficult moments providing for the children’s education. At times, they drank only water and went to school but we are thankful that they have reached this level,” Ps Aplas said.
It was quite a journey, made less daunting by prayer and support from other family members like Henry’s own brothers.
“Solomon’s success was possible through our prayers and we thank God for everything. We also thank Solomon’s uncles Desmond, a teacher at Parchi Primary School, and Charles who works with the Department of Justice and Attorney General at Angoram. They have been very supportive.”
Solomon, a prefect at his school, represented to head boy and girl to speak on behalf of the graduating class and he told guest of honour, Police Minister Bryan Kramer, that the education system needed to be reviewed to cater for the thousands of young people like him graduating each year.
“Indeed it is a turbulent journey that my friends and I have walked. We have walked over rough mountains, we sailed rough seas and we flew through stormy winds just to succeed in education and to have a better future. For us to successfully come this far and graduate in grade 12 level was not an easy route,” Solomon said, alluding to his own family’s tough times.
“It requires self-esteem, self-discipline, respecting social rules and taking ownership of our responsibilities as students. In fact the journey is not over. We have just covered 90 per cent of the journey. Grade 12 leave of education is a deciding point. Only few will continue the 10 per cent of the journey and not the rest.
“To our keynote speaker, our education system needs a total review. I would say that it does not serve the bulk of the grade eight, 10 and 12 students that sit the national examinations annually.
“For instance this year we have 29,000 grade 12 students and only about a quarter will have spaces in tertiary institutions while the rest are going to drop back. They are not failures but our education system does not allow them to continue. The question is, does the current education system promote the Government’s Vision 2050 on the human development of PNG?
“Due to the education system not all of us will continue into tertiary institutions.
“To those who will not make it through, your education journey does not stop here. Make use of the opportunities that are around and make meaning out of your life because we are assets for our parents.”
Solomon has applied to the University of PNG and is hoping he gets selected for one of the courses he has indicated. His first choice was law.
For Solomon and thousands of his peers, it will be an anxious wait for the selection results from UPNG and other tertiary institutions which, we are told, can only absorb about 5,000 while the rest will have to seek other opportunities.
Two of the 238 graduates of Tokarara Secondary School were fortunate to have been awarded scholarships by an institution in the national capital.
Elsie Supi and Dunstan Mark were handed the scholarship certificates on graduation day by the marketing manager of International Training Institute to take up studies in the new year.