Vagiput Unity School Project
a Sponsorship of Toowong Catholic Parish



Report as at October 2011

What is happening with our Parish’s support for the Vagiput Village Unity School?

It is a blessing to be able to bring some Good News! After six long years on a rocky road, the Unity School is to be a registered Government supported full primary school. The final “code” number has not yet been received, but the Provincial Government has submitted all the paperwork to the National Education Office. 2012 should be the start.

We are hoping Ester, who trained our student teachers those many years ago and sacrificed two years of her pay, will be the new head teacher. The results of her efforts have been realised by the fact that our year six graduates from Unity school have competed well with those from registered schools in completing their years’ seven and eight schooling. We now have four students at the local secondary school; two now completing their year 10.

The Unity School Library building. The library is managed by the Community to serve both the school and the community to encourage adults to develop their English skills as well.
Side view of the library. The verandah is used on official occasions as a stage for school formal events such as the end of year presentations (photos below)

At a time when the Provincial Education Planner has had to close a number of Government run schools in the surroundings local government areas, his recognition and positive support of our Unity school shows that the unselfish efforts by the people, our six student teachers (Year 10 graduates trained by Ester), our librarian and the students themselves have been rewarded.

Obtaining this recognition has not been easy. Each time a Provincial Education officer visited the school, we had to pay for their fuel and other travelling expenses; the government does not have the resources for them to effectively carry out their responsibilities. This occurred three times. The positive outcome and the acknowledgement by our government officials that they were very impressed by our success more than compensates the costs incurred.

Our Toowong parishioners have played an important part in this success. Without the donated books from you all our Vagiput children would still be denied a basic primary education. We now have an unregistered school that has the best equipped primary school library in Papua New Guinea and all thanks to the generous support from the Toowong parishioners. Words cannot describe what this means to these children who are now able to attend school.

Joy receiving her prize
Joy, receiving her prize as one of the top students in her year 2 class. Prizes were cutlery items donated by our Parishioners.

A small selection of the many books generously donated by our St. Ignatius Parishioners.

Many books are still needed by students such as atlases, dictionaries and text books
Romana, first in her year 6 class graduates at the end of 2010. She is now in Year 7 at Bainyik school
sponsored by our Parishioners.

Your generous donations in August last year totalling $7,323.55 have enabled 16 children from Unity School to be taught in a registered school to year 8 and thus complete their full primary schooling and receive their certificate. If they perform well above average they may be accepted to go to secondary school as have our four students now at secondary school. We are also supporting six children from the local surrounding villages to be able to attend primary school. These children have lost their fathers and as a result were denied an education as their mothers could not afford the school fees. Five of these are girls, offering a new life for them.

It is not all success. Four of our supported children returned to the village during the year for a number of reasons. A sense of sadness results as this may have been the only chance for them to complete their primary education. All may not be lost if the Unity school can be fully operational next year offering at least Year 7. The following year, Year 8 will be added thus allowing the Vagiput students to obtain their full primary schooling without leaving their village.

The registration of Unity School will open the doors for many more students to attend primary school from the surrounding villages. Their parents were reluctant to send their children here as it was not registered and only offered classes to year 6. Now they will have the opportunity to attend a registered government school next year.

Four Unity School graduates now at Secondary School. Boniem Joy, on the right, is now completing her Year 10. These are some of the students supported by your generous donations. (Note the school footwear)!!
The year 6 Classroom built from bush materials. Note the
floor and desks. The blackboards were made from the
packing crates used to ship the donated books to PNG
and painted with blackboard paint.

Unity school is now located within Vagiput village. Once the school is registered and open to all it will be relocated to vacant land away from the village. This will encourage the surrounding villages to commit their own time and effort into building a new Unity school supported by all the villages.

This is only a new beginning. There are many obstacles yet to face as the school slowly grows. We have to make sure our student teachers, who have given so much without thought for reward, can also benefit from their experience of teaching now for a number of years. In our discussions with the education authorities, we have insisted that they must also receive government support so that they may be able to obtain recognition for their service. An acknowledgement from the Provincial Education Advisor has been encouraging. Our student teachers will have the opportunity to obtain qualifications to teach the lower primary grades as community school teachers.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this project, please contact Ray Otto


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