Papua New Guinea Special Purpose Authority, the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA), and international development NGO, the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF), have teamed up to fund the parent contribution project fees for more than 1,850 primary school students from all eligible KTA wards along and around the Kokoda Track.
This is the first time in the two organisations’ histories that a formal partnership has been brokered. By investing in education, the organisations hope to further the growth and development of the education system in the remote Oro and Central villages along the Track and ease the financial burden of families who rely on subsistence farming and the trekking industry for their livelihoods.
“This is a strong investment in the future of our region and the nation,” said Julius Wargirai, the Interim CEO of the KTA. “The education of our children is one of the greatest gifts we can give to them. Once they get through Primary school and go onto higher education, they can become valuable members of the communities, and help take our nation forward.”
Wargirai emphasised: “We do not have a lot of money that we collect from the Tour Operators for distribution to the communities, but this is one way small funds can have a big impact. I thank the KTF to partner with the KTA in making this project possible.”
The scholarships are being supported with generous funding from KTA that will see the organisation spend the funds they have quarantined for the past few years for community development initiatives along the Track.
KTF undertook mapping work that identified the enrollment of students across all primary schools in the catchment region and will facilitate the payment of all scholarships and working with the schools on their expenditure of scholarship funds.
“We are especially delighted that students are attending school in just about equal proportions across genders, with 52 percent of our scholarships supporting male students and 48 percent supporting female students,” said Dr Genevieve Nelson, CEO of KTF.
“Significant work in recent years has gone into supporting education and health initiatives along and around the Kokoda Track. Key partners including KTA, KTF, the Kokoda Initiative and the Oro and Central Governor’s offices have worked together to ensure that every village has access to elementary or primary schooling and the scholarship scheme is the final piece of support that will tremendously ease the burdens for families.”
The scholarship program was launched at a formal ceremony at Sogeri Primary School over the weekend, attended by Wargirai and Dr Nelson, Eddie Kila (Central Deputy Provincial Administrator) and 175 scholarship recipients from Wards 5 and 6 of Kairuku - Hiri District, Central Province.