International development organisation, KTF, partnered with the PNG Sustainable Development Program (SDP) and the Member for Middle Fly, Roy Biyama, to make this possible.
It is the first stage of planned further developments at the college, which will see the facility eventually deliver pre-service and in-service teacher training at a School of Education as well as training for community health workers and other health professionals at a School of Health.
However, given the low rates of Grade 12 school leavers, especially across remote and rural regions in Western Province’s Middle and Lower Fly districts, this partnership is making a concerted effort to create progression pathways for people who have not completed their secondary schooling, but who are committed to careers in teaching and health work.
“We are delighted to partner in this project,” said SDP’s Media and Communications Manager, Esther Sibona. “Through our education initiative, we focus on improving primary and secondary education through scholarships; improving school infrastructure; funding school fees; using modern technology to support teachers and students in remote locations; and developing a Balimo campus to provide FODE; teacher; and health worker training,”
The FODE Centre has enrolled 105 students from across the Balimo region in second-chance education pathways, enabling them to complete their Grade 12 schooling.
“It is vital that we support people on long-term pathways into teaching and health work and to support them to return to remote communities across the Province and deliver urgently needed services,” said Dr Genevieve Nelson, KTF CEO. “The new facility at Balimo takes a holistic approach to supporting these career pathways and will ensure that students who commence their FODE studies with us are supported through to their tertiary studies in teaching and health work.”
The project has received great community support with volunteers taking lead in cleaning the school area, and working closely with KTF and SDP to organise minor repairs of the classrooms to ensure classes commence on time.
The Balimo government authorities have made a particularly valuable contribution by making vacant houses and buildings available for this initiative which is strongly supported by relevant health and education authorities.
“It gives me great pleasure to have opened the new FODE Centre in Balimo focused on giving opportunities to students who were unable to continue normal learning pathways and leaving at Grade 10,” said Minister Roy Biyama, Member for Middle Fly.
“I commend KTF, who have partnered with SDP to have this learning centre opened. Education is one of the key priorities of Middle Fly District 5 Year Development Plan focused at improving school infrastructure and standards in the district at all levels.
“Having this Open FODE Centre with plans of extending to training of teachers and community health workers is milestone vision to solve the chronic shortage of teachers and community health workers in rural areas of Middle Fly District.”
The Balimo FODE students will sit their exams in November 2019.