Bougainville leads the way in PNG developing and using digital education technology


Founders of the book-gain-ville project Colin Cowell and former ABG President James Tanis were at the Pacific Adventist University (PAU) PNG Symposium to give a presentation on the Bougainville education revolution using Kindle e-readers known as ‘Bookgainville’, an initiative to improve literacy throughout Bougainville.

As reported in Port Moresby by EMTV

Bookgainville is the brainchild of Colin Cowell, from Canberra in Australia who once lived in Bougainville almost forty (40) years ago.
Cowell spent twenty-four (24) years working with and training Aboriginal communities across Australia.
He found his calling to help the people of the former crisis-torn island of Bougainville on a trip to deliver e-readers to students in a remote Panguna village.
Cowell started the Bookgainville project in Australia, with the guidance and support of the Indigenous Reading Project.
The project was launched at the Narinai Elementary school in Panguna district, the home of former ABG President James Tanis. It was then that the first 20 kindles were given, with feasting and celebration to signify the importance of the occasion.
The Bookgainville project is gaining momentum, with support technology and trained staff at the Arawa Women’s Training Centre. Cowell affirmed that sustainability is the key to the Bookgainville project.
A leadership group on ground, led by Mr James Tanis, is comprised of teachers and IT volunteers. The Kindles can contain up to 1400 books inside and cost $99 (Australian dollars).
The use of Kindles in third world countries has proven to be an outright success, using digital platforms and mobile connectivity to make books available to children and families who need them the most.
And with mobile use being prevalent in developing countries, such as PNG, World reader has also created a mobile app for android and featured phone devises. For the first time, folks have access to a library of books using a devise they own: their mobile phones.
In developing countries throughout the world, it has been seen that after 5 months in the e-reader Kindle program, children show significant improvements in fluency and comprehension.
The Bookgainville initiative has developed 11 libraries already in schools that never had libraries or books before, with each requiring 5 e-reader kindles with each kindle able to hold up to 1400 books.
The Bookgainville project received positive feedback at the PNG symposium and both Mr Cowell and Mr Tanis were greatly pleased by the outcome.
Donations to support the project to purchase Kindles for schools in Bougainville can be made by contacting Collin Cowell on or +61401331251 or you can visit for more information.
“Bougainville now leads the way in PNG developing and using digital education technology”
–       Colin Cowell
Photo Source: Colin Cowell

2 comments on “Bougainville leads the way in PNG developing and using digital education technology

  1. Disasters, hardships, problems and difficulties have been a part of all human existence since Adam and Eve were left to elope freely in proverbial Paradise. Our Bougainville not proverbial, it is a real Paradise. And in real Paradise we also have real problems. Often we are very quick off our heels to criticize our government the ABG, or ridicule our leaders, the people we elect to our Parliament. Or have a swipe at our public servants from time to time when matters we might be pursuing do not turn out as we want them. But I think if we stop and take a breather, look around us, have a conversation with ourselves and with others we will see and find that Bougainville has made – and is making – real progress. It may not be exponential stuff to make your eyes pop out or make you open your mouth and gasp for oxygen in astonishment but hey, it’s real; it is visible and it is tangible. Our Government is tasked with responsibilities and obligations it has to meet and fulfill in ways that no Province or the even the National Government is faced with. Foremost among these responsibilities has been the enormously brain-draining task of drawing down of powers as agreed and sanctioned in the BPA. Much closer to home has been the preparation and awareness towards the impending vote on Referendum. In between of course they are a myriads of other things that ABG has to contend with or is expected to deliver.

    Bougainville will deliver on the agreements our leaders have signed and on the promises they have made if we all put our differences and personal inclinations and persuasions aside and support ABG; support our leaders; in the most ultimate sense this means supporting ourselves as we map out, tick off or think more and more about where we desire Bougainville to go. Any government and leaders we get are what we chose and give ourselves: government by the people, for the people and of the people. I think in Bougainville we want to also add to this and say we want a government that goes to the people.

    In recent times there have been quite a number of what we might say are goo-read, feel-good, mind-caressing stories emerging out of ARoB. We read in the national dailies how a number of our businessmen and businesswomen are contributing to youth programs and activities. It might be Diparus and Ipiung sponsoring soccer and other local sports tournaments in Arawa. Or it might be Gerard Masa and other businessmen in Buka sponsoring volleyball tournaments in their respective COEs on Buka. Other businesses in the south are helping in similar ways.

    WHAT does this tell us? It tells us two things. First, it shows that our Bougainvillean inherent gift of sharing our successes with others is still very much alive. Second, the importance of volunteerism to promote and put Bougainville on the map is important. It is gaining momentum. We must support and grow the spirit of volunteerism in us.

    This past week I was involved in helping in two global activities that have involved individuals volunteering their time. One of these activities is the subject of this article: Kindles for schools in Bougainville. The article speaks for itself. It has taken the time and effort, never mind ingenuity, of two individuals worlds apart to come together hoping that what they have started will be embraced by everyone towards a real education revolution, from cradle to grave, on Bougainville. Our Education authorities must also get in on this. There is always this thing about bureaucratic stamp of approval. James and Colin need to pursue this. The rest of us do not need convincing. As the late Nelson Mandela says: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Mandela is a towering, but calm and collected personality who changed the political course and shape and re-birthed South Africa in the most profound way a leader can do so for his country. Bougainville has a lot of positives to learn from South Africa. I was fortunate to meet the man in Durban in 2000.

    There is a famous Chinese philosopher, Lao Tse who said some eons ago: “Go to the People”. The Chinese Communist Party today is delivering education to the people as one of the biggest all time industries to develop its people. Teaching English in China is a very big industry, yes industry. The exponential growth of China is not possible without education. China has 1.3 billion people and growing. Bougainville has less than 300,000 people. WE can do it with tactical and strategical planning and with leaders leading from the front and a lot of volunteers in the trenches with a lot of spirit to boot.

    The past four months have seen four to five cruise ships call into Buka and Kieta. The tourism industry has a lot of potential to develop in Bougainville. But it must develop slowly with a lot of thought and planning and much common sense. Private tourist operators and genuine community involvement is what will grow tourism. Bougainville for the first time made a real good impact at the recent PNG Tourism conference, forum and expo in Port Moresby. The opening entertainment act to the Conference was provided by a Buka entertainment troupe of beautiful dancers. What a treat as the opening salvo. It was opportune, it was a seller to Bougainville tourism. Sometimes I think God is always on our side but we don’t want to listen to Him. Thanks to Zhon Bosco Miriona and mentor Colin Colwell. I learnt a lot while helping and it was wonderful to see our former President, Tanis, in blue helping out at Nature Park as well. Again volunteering time and effort is good for Bougainville in all sorts of ways. We must help private operators and agents in all centres. Buin has a lot of potential. Most of all community involvement and orientation is what will make tourism a success.

    Go Kindles | Go Tourism | Go Bougainville | Go to the People ABG | Volunteer |

    Simple Simon

  2. Pingback: Bougainville Education News : Can Innovative SMS stories improve English literacy in Bougainville ? | Bougainville News

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