Being the third early childhood learning centre under the Oil Search Foundation’s Education and Community Development Program, the library is a beacon of learning, imagination and growth for the locals in Kikori, in Gulf Province.
Working in partnership with the community, Buk bilong Pikinini and the United Church of Papua New Guinea, each partner continues to play a significant role in ensuring the library provides much needed services.
Established in 2018, the learning centre is a high priority for the community. They demonstrated its importance by not waiting for the new building to be constructed. Instead, they negotiated with a local church to create a temporary classroom, then held classes until the new library was ready in 2019.
Officially opened by OSF’s chair Peter Botten in a ceremony attended by the people of Kikori, the library hosts reading, writing, phonics and basic literacy and numeracy along with teaching good values and healthy behaviours in classes for 4 to 6-year-old children every morning. It opens its doors to older children and adults in the afternoons.
“If a child is able to read at an early age it sets a tremendous platform for the rest of his or her life,” said a proud Peter Botten.
“We are really pleased as a company and a foundation to support people who are committed to developing the skills of their children and we do this through partnerships.”
Present at the opening was the National Department of Education’s Program Manager National Literacy & Awareness Secretariat, Nicholas Nembo, who said literacy is key to any development and parents must encourage their children to read as it sets the foundation to life.
Seventy-five children have completed a year-long early education program so far, going on to begin school with skills that will enable them to excel.
This year another 70 children are going to graduate with reading skills.
“This library is giving children a love of learning,” says fellow teacher, Leila. “Every morning, they can’t wait to come here. They wake their parents up and say ‘Come on, come on, it’s time. I want to go to school’.
“Since my son started going to the school, I have seen a very big change,” says Peter Mafu, a parent of one of the children, “and when he comes home, he teaches the elder siblings how to read”.
“The strong desire for literacy was repeated by many mothers and it was the start of planning for the Kikori literacy library. We also knew how important this was in Gulf which has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country,” notes OSF Education Program Manager Daisy Raburabu.
“Today, the community remains committed and determined to see their children’s reading. We love seeing a plan come together, especially when it helps so many people so they could focus and learn and to encourage reading at home.
“Since OSF commenced the early childhood literacy program in 2017, over 400 children in Hela and Gulf provinces have learned to read and this year, another 200 children are likely to join this number.
“This year we are also working with Southern Highlands on the site for another literacy library. We are pleased to be working alongside communities, national and provincial governments to get young children reading,” Raburabu said.
(A student reading at the Kikori Literacy Library)