|Subject: Re: Can Tribal Fright be Eradicated once and for all?
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Date Posted: Thu, Nov 09 2006, 09:41:40am
In reply to:
Fr. Robert Plews Laka, SVD
's message, "Can Tribal Fright be Eradicated once and for all?" on Tue, Oct 17 2006, 01:56:55am
Thought yu guys might be interested in this story from pngbd - http://www.pngbd.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17817
Communities mobilize for children’s education
by Hilda Wayne of UNICEF
TRADITIONAL land and death compensation payments and bride price ceremonies in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea determines tribal and clan status in the region. The more contributions towards such ceremonies, the higher the status of leadership in the tribe and the tribe itself. Communities in this region are redefining the meaning of community status and setting the trend for many who have come to envy and follow a school fee contribution initiative in the Highlands, investing in their children’s education.
Education is vital for social stability and economic development. It is, one basic right of every children. But, the situation in PNG is not very encouraging as nearly half the primary school age children lack the opportunity to learn, though all of them want to go to school. The number is very high in some provinces, especially in the Highlands and Momase regions, and the national average masks wide provincial variations.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works with local partners to support the establishment of child-friendly schools, which – by definition are effective, healthy, protective, girl-friendly and includes the support of students, parents and communities.
The program promotes awareness on the need and importance of girls’ education, aiming to increase enrollment for boys and girls, retain them in school and improve their learning achievement.
In line with this concept, a community in Chimbu province started this school fee initiative last year, another little known community called Alkena, in the rural Tambul district of Western Highlands province (WHP) used these traditional systems in promoting their children’s education.
Children from Alkena Primary School are grateful that they will no longer be carrying home reminder papers for outstanding fees from their school because their people have paid all their fees. Under the theme ‘Nuga naga skul’ (Your school, my school) the children became the highlight of the school’s outstanding school fee payment ceremony. Children who thought they would not complete school have now continued and need not worry about outstanding school fee. It was a moment the children of Alkena will remember for a very long time.
Mr. Gabriel Andandi, who is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Assistant Project Officer, Education said many other districts are following the example set by the people of Chimbu and Alkena and are contributing towards school fee payments. The initiative is part of UNICEF’s priority to Accelerate Girls’ Education (AGE) in school and make schools become child-friendly.
“We are not reinventing the wheel. The traditional system is already in place however the focus now is on children getting the best from the community to support their children,” said Mr. Andandi.
Mt. Hagen is the capital city of WHP and it takes almost over two hours travel from Alkena to the city. The province is one of the biggest producer of coffee in the country and is also the business epicenter of mining provinces of Southern Highlands and Enga. While the rest of the province are blessed with and enjoy the seasonal coffee harvests, Tambul district has freezing weather temperatures and therefore coffee cannot grow there. The people of Tambul however are also hardworking and rely mainly on subsistence agriculture for an income.
Through perseverance and hard work the people of Alkena mobilized from their subsistence living to make the biggest contribution to date towards paying back outstanding debts for their school children attending Alkena Primary School. Children, especially girls are prevented from going to school and one of the main reasons is lack of school fees. Paying school fees is really a big sacrifice for families, however the people of Alkena took it to heart that the education of their children formed the foundation of development and progress for them.
In Alkena, the people were divided into their respective wards and a contribution committee comprising church, women, youth and community leaders was formed. Outstanding fees were listed according to the eight wards the children came from and the wards started funding raising to met the outstanding fees.
When the funds were put together for presentation to the school it was announced that they people had raised a massive K55,000 (Approx US$18,300) of which K40,000 was paid to the school for outstanding fees and an extra K15,000 was raised. The extra will be put towards the building of a new classroom. Leaders from the district also made a commitment that this will be an annual event.
Secretary for Education, Dr. Joseph Pagelio who was guest speaker at the presentation was impressed by the community initiative and praised the people for taking a stand for their children’s education. It was also witnessed by the country’s provincial education advisors.
Other communities have also followed this concept which continues to gain momentum and people are beginning to realize that it is really worth investing in the education of a child.
Hilda Wayne is UNICEF Assistant Communication Officer in PNG.
For further information about UNICEF in PNG contact Hilda on
Telephone: +675 321 3000 or +675 688 7640. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
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