Student shares his past struggles

National

This is a personal reflection written by ANU-UPNG summer school scholarship students.
The 10 students in the programme are all in their final year at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) taking either economics or public policy.
From different parts of the country, they were selected on a competitive basis to attend a five-week summer school at the Australian National University (ANU) in January and February.
This is a story from Deli Jeffery of Eastern Highlands.
He is a final-year economics student.
He shared his thoughts during his time in Canberra.
“I am the first born in a family of seven children,” he began.
“I come from a poor background in a remote part of the mountainous Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
“My parents are subsistence farmers.
“I started my education when I was four years old at my village primary school in 2000, in Sonofi, about 74 kilometres from the town of Kainantu.
“My parents often couldn’t afford the school fees and I had to withdraw and wait for the next year.
“Because of these delays, in 2010, I was still at Sonofi Primary School when it was shut down due to administrative issues – the headmaster was accused of misusing school funds.
“I went to my mother’s village and moved in with my aunt who was married to a primary school teacher. He was principal of the Kesevaka Primary School, which I attended, again in a very remote part of the province, in Henganofi.
“In 2011, Sonofi Primary School was reopened and I moved with my parents.
“However, there was a great shortage of teachers.
“I was taught by a male teacher in a double class of grade six and seven. This was common in the school.
“I wasn’t learning anything, so I left the school during term one.
“In term two, April 2011, I tried a third school, at another village where another aunt was living.
“I enrolled at the Onerungka Primary School in Kainantu during the second term of that year. But this was also a problem school. It had been burnt down in 2002 due to a political conflict.
“In 2013, I was selected to attend Onerungka High School. The school was located a few kilometres away from home and I used to study in the evenings in a classroom.
“During that year, I faced a lot of challenges, the most serious of which was that my parents divorced. My mother went back to her village while my father remarried.
“I tried to focus on my studies and, in 2014, I completed my grade 10.
“In 2015, I was selected to Aiyura National High School, where I boarded.
“At first I wanted to become an engineer, but then I got interested in business. I applied to the University of Papua New Guinea and was accepted into the business management and foundation year programme.
“At the end of the foundation year, I applied to do economics.
“I find that economics is very interesting and I am enjoying the course.
“Looking back, my education journey was certainly very difficult.
“But the constant has been financial difficulties. It has always been difficult to find the money to pay my school fees.” – ANU

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