Bougainville News: New Dawn FM Bougainville commences filming for mobile cinema project

New Dawn FM is engaging in a nation-wide video awareness to provide the citizens of Bougainville with information on the Bougainville Peace Agreement and improve citizens’ understanding of six governance issues: disarmament, referendum, good governance, missing persons, war widows and government corruption.

New Dawn Manager Aloysius Laukai provides an update on the project and writes:  

Please note : Bougainville News is operated by Aloysius Laukai


The first mission of this PACMAS funded project, was to find out what people in Bougainville already know about our six topics: weapons disposal, the referendum, good governance, missing persons, war widows and government corruption.

We made six surveys, one for each topic, and each with seven sections.  New Dawn FM reporters went to different centres in Bougainville to conduct the surveys among a cross section of the population. In all, over 230 surveys were answered.

We found differences in reactions according to where people lived: in Central Bougainville, people felt more strongly about weapons disposal, for example.  Some answers varied according to gender, such as attitudes towards what constitutes corruption.

However, it was clear that people were eager to find out more: they wanted to know about the structure of government, about how to report government corruption, and they had a lot of questions about the different aspects of the referendum.

The film we will be making will address these needs but also tell them where to go to get this information.


New Dawn FM Bouganville Peace Agreement Awareness

Scripting was a natural process especially after analysing the questionnaires and taking into account people’s opinions on the different topics.  It was clear what information we would need to get across, and commenced on a list of interviewees for each film.

For the government corruption video, we came up with an exciting and dramatic way to get our point across – a fable of a dog that turns into a corrupt politician and along the way involves his whole community.


Filming has started with recordings on ‘missing persons’.  We spoke to Government and NGO representatives, and also captured stories people told of their experience of having a relative missing.  The interviews were eye-opening.

Bordger Bakere from ICRC spoke about the policy (that was adapted to investigate the whereabouts of the missing people as a result of the Bougainville Civil War that occurred in the years 1988 – 1998), and appeals to the members of the public to come forward if they have any information on the missing people.

Two mothers,  Scholley Miriori who lost her nephew and Claire Situ who lost her son, gave personal testimonies of what it’s like to not know where the remains of a loved one are.

Peter Garuai has set up his own association to help people who have been affected from this, and we have captured his views too.

We are hoping that our awareness video on missing persons will encourage people to come forward anonymously so that valuable information can be shared safely.

New Dawn FM Bougainville Peace Agreement awareness

Next Up

For the other 5 topics, we are yet to conduct interviews but work on identifying interviewees and arranging interview times have begun.

As we film, and then edit, we have started building the footages into coherent narratives.  This part of the project provides a great opportunity for the New Dawn FM staff to develop their capacity in working with moving images and getting familiar with the Final Cut Pro.

We’re looking forward to when we will be taking the films and setting up mobile cinemas night after night in towns and villages around Bougainville.

– See more at:

Bougainville News : Will the next 15 years see a major breakthrough for most people in poor countries


They will have unprecedented opportunities to get an education, eat nutritious food, and benefit from mobile banking. These breakthroughs will be driven by innovation in technology — ranging from new vaccines and hardier crops to much cheaper smartphones and tablets — and by innovations that help deliver those things to more people.

Millions of people will have access to online education

The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history. And their lives will improve more than anyone else’s

Bill and Melinda Gates 2015 Letter

We see an opportunity and we want to make the most of it.

We’re putting our credibility, time, and money behind this bet — and asking others to join us — because we think there has never been a better time to accelerate progress and have a big impact around the world.

Some will say we’re irrational to make this bet too. A skeptic would look at the world’s problems and conclude that things are only getting worse. And we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that a handful of the worst-off countries will continue to struggle.

Picture Above :When we travel, we meet with people to learn what they need to live a healthy, productive life. Mapinga, Tanzania, 2011

 Watch video here

But we think the next 15 years will see major breakthroughs for most people in poor countries. They will be living longer and in better health. They will have unprecedented opportunities to get an education, eat nutritious food, and benefit from mobile banking. These breakthroughs will be driven by innovation in technology — ranging from new vaccines and hardier crops to much cheaper smartphones and tablets — and by innovations that help deliver those things to more people.The rich world will keep getting exciting new advances too, but the improvements in the lives of the poor will be far more fundamental — the basics of a healthy, productive life. It’s great that more people in rich countries will be able to watch movies on super hi-resolution screens. It’s even better that more parents in poor countries will know their children aren’t going to die.It is fair to ask whether the progress we’re predicting will be stifled by climate change. The most dramatic problems caused by climate change are more than 15 years away, but the long-term threat is so serious that the world needs to move much more aggressively — right now — to develop energy sources that are cheaper, can deliver on demand, and emit zero carbon dioxide. The next 15 years are a pivotal time when these energy sources need to be developed so they’ll be ready to deploy before the effects of climate change become severe. Bill is investing time in this work personally (not through our foundation) and will continue to speak out about it.

We’re excited to see how much better the world will be in 15 years.

Here are some of the breakthroughs in Education we see coming.



Arizona who are getting their college degrees through online schools.

One of them, Shawn Lee, is a former construction worker who went back to college so he could build a better life for his young son. Shawn told Bill how he had struggled in a traditional school — and how learning online made it much easier to balance school and work.

Yet if we went to a poor country and asked a street vendor about taking online classes, she would just laugh. The idea would seem ridiculous.

It shouldn’t. And one day, it won’t.

Our foundation gives more money to education than to any other cause in the United States because it’s the best lever we’ve seen for giving every child in America a chance to make the most of their lives. Some of the work we fund is focused solely on U.S. students and teachers. But a core piece of it — online courses — will be a global asset, available to anyone with a smartphone or tablet.

As high-speed cell networks grow and smartphones become as cheap as today’s voice-only phones, online education will flourish. For people in rich countries, it will be an important step forward. For the rest of the world, especially in places where growth is creating demand for educated workers, it will be a revolution.

Think back 15 years, to when online education was first gaining traction. It amounted to little more than pointing a camera at a university lecturer and hitting the “record” button. Students couldn’t take online quizzes or connect with each other. It wasn’t interactive at all.

Bougainville education could do with your help Mr Gates

Bookgainville  Project on Bougainville PNG

Australia-PNG Emerging Leaders Dialogue identifies Bougainville referendum as an issue



At the second annual Australia-Papua New Guinea Emerging Leaders Dialogue in Sydney participants discussed issues surrounding Bougainville, its peace building experience and its upcoming referendum on independence between 2015 and 2020.

Bougainville faced many of the same challenges as the rest of Papua New Guinea in terms of sustainable development but the history surrounding the Panguna mine and the conflict made the issue of how natural resources are used more controversial.

Reconciliation between groups within Bougainville and with Papua New Guinea was crucial for social cohesion and peacebuilding. Some of the Papua New Guinean participants were sorry that there was a desire for independence in Bougainville.

They noted that few young people in Papua New Guinea were aware of the history of the Bougainville conflict and had not engaged in discussions about the implications of independence.

The Australian participants, for their part, noted that there was very little awareness of Bougainville amongst young people in Australia.  Participants believed that Australian organisations could play a constructive role in helping to provide platforms for more conversations and awareness about Bougainville within Papua New Guinea.




20 January 2015   |   Speeches and Conferences   |   By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Mark Tamsitt and Anna Kirk

The Lowy Institute for International Policy convened the second annual Australia-Papua New Guinea Emerging Leaders Dialogue in Sydney under the auspices of the Australia-Papua New Guinea Network from 1 to 4 December 2014. In this Report, the Lowy Institute’s Melanesia team summarises the outcomes of the Dialogue, which set a new standard for frank and broad-ranging discussion. This outstanding group of young leaders came from diverse fields in both countries and the variety of their expertise added great value to the conversation. Food security, access to services and justice, the growing importance of social enterprises, and the prospects for Bougainville were key focus areas for the discussion.

The Australian participants developed a strong appreciation of the challenges and opportunities facing our nearest neighbour.  The Papua New Guinean participants gained new insights into domestic debates in Australia on issues such as health, education, environment, and Indigenous inclusion.  A number of the participants are already discussing professional and community projects they can collaborate on to leverage expertise for more effective results.

They were enthusiastic about continuing engagement and building professional relationships, particularly in the fields of small business, agriculture and health.

Key Findings
  • The agriculture sector struggles to attract young talent and government attention in both Australia and PNG. This has flow-on effects for national food security and health in PNG and limits diversity and innovation in Australia.
  • The growing popularity of entrepreneurship as a tool to create positive social change creates opportunities for greater collaboration between young Australians and Papua New Guineans. This could be enabled by better utilising the social media tools already available in both countries.
  • The consequences of Bougainville’s upcoming referendum are not well understood among the younger generation of Papua New Guineans. Given the significance for our region of a vote for independence in Bougainville, greater discussion and education about Bougainville’s future is warranted

The Lowy Institute for International Policy convened the second annual Australia-Papua New Guinea Emerging Leaders Dialogue in Sydney under the auspices of the Australia-Papua New Guinea Network from 1 to 4 December 2014.

The Dialogue brought together twenty leaders from both countries to discuss common challenges and build lasting professional connections. The young leaders came from diverse backgrounds working in sectors such as youth work, law and justice, agriculture, health, education, the military, finance and tourism. Their discussion focused around the central themes of sustainability, entrepreneurship and international engagement.  Participants also had a constructive and informed discussion on contemporary challenges — including the future of Bougainville, Indigenous Australians’ access to services and justice, Australian aid, and asylum seekers in Manus.

The Dialogue was chaired by Jenny Hayward-Jones, Program Director, Melanesia at the Lowy Institute and Serena Sumanop, Executive Director, The Voice Inc., Papua New Guinea.

Key recommendations from the participants were:

1.      Developing an online teaching resource for primary and high school students in Australia and Papua New Guinea focused on the 40th anniversary of independence to assist in understanding our joint history.  This could be coordinated by the Australia-PNG Network and made available via its website.

2.      The introduction of an annual Emerging Leaders Award for an Australian or Papua New Guinean who has made an outstanding contribution to deepening ties between our two countries. This award could be presented on behalf of the Australian and Papua New Guinean Foreign Ministers at the Emerging Leaders Dialogue and involve opportunities for high-level meetings and public presentations.

3.      Tour operators on the Kokoda Track could work together to integrate PNG and Australian groups doing the track. This could be an opportunity to encourage Australian Indigenous youth organisations to work with counterparts in Papua New Guinea.

4.      The Australian Government could contribute to constructive discussions on the future of Bougainville by facilitating opportunities for young people from all over Papua New Guinea to debate issues around the referendum on independence.

5.      Communities in Australia and Papua New Guinea face similar challenges with the prevalence of lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. Organisations and individuals in Australia with expertise in successful public health awareness campaigns, dietary advice and service delivery in rural and remote areas could pursue partnerships with community and government organisations in Papua New Guinea.

6.      Papua New Guinea’s rapidly growing urban areas are putting a strain on existing infrastructure. Papua New Guinea’s towns could benefit from Australian experience in town planning. Partnership and interaction through mechanisms such as sister-city relationships would help develop appropriate and practical town plans improving sustainability and quality of life.

7.      Australian assistance in the agriculture sector should aim to attract investment in initiatives relating to smallholder agriculture, with particular attention to promoting a more balanced diet, crucial for the health and economic productivity of Papua New Guinea. Some examples of specific focal points include preserving local foods of nutritional benefit, maintaining general crop diversity, encouraging inland fisheries as a source of protein for rural communities, and creating business models that support better downstream processing of agricultural produce.

8.      A professional exchange program that enabled Australians to take up work placements in Papua New Guinea and Papua New Guineans to take up work placements in Australia at a mid-career level for up to 12 months.  This has the potential to deliver immediate results by boosting the business acumen of individuals and deepening professional and people-to-people links. Some multinational companies such as banks and resources companies already do this well.  Expansion to other sectors including agriculture, tourism, higher education, journalism and state-owned enterprises would need some government backing to encourage commitment from the private sector and enable appropriate visa arrangements. This initiative would be consistent with the rationale behind the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan and the Australia Awards scheme.

9.      A private sector-backed business incubation initiative that brings together high-level mentoring, access to seed funding, and shared information to case studies on relevant successful start-up companies in both countries. This should be targeted at young Papua New Guineans and Indigenous Australian youth, particularly women, without access to tertiary education to encourage them to take on the risk of starting a small business.


The Dialogue set a new standard for frank and broad-ranging discussions between young leaders from both countries.  The Australian participants developed a strong appreciation of the challenges and opportunities facing our nearest neighbour.  The Papua New Guinean participants gained new insights into domestic debates in Australia on issues such as health, education, environment, and Indigenous inclusion.  A number of the participants are already discussing professional and community projects they can collaborate on to leverage expertise for more effective results.  They were enthusiastic about continuing engagement and building professional relationships, particularly in the fields of small business, agriculture and health.

The following provides a summary of the discussion at the Dialogue. The report is written on a non-attributable basis. A list of the participants and observers involved in the event is attached as an annex.



Food security was an increasingly important issue for both Papua New Guinea and Australia. While rural Papua New Guineans could live off subsistence farming, in the long term there was a risk that Papua New Guineans may not have the capacity to feed themselves.  Subsistence farmers produced only enough crops to sell in local markets.  The majority of the urban population of Papua New Guinea is already reliant on imported processed foods.  High population growth meant the nation would be dependent on imported foods.  Like many developing countries, Papua New Guinea lacks the negotiating power to ensure poor quality foods are not dumped in its market.

In Papua New Guinea there is the added challenge of a popular perception of traditional foods being inferior to processed and imported Western-style foods. Imported foods were associated with a middle-class lifestyle. The change in diet had a devastating effect on the health of the Papua New Guinea population; large numbers were suffering from non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. Efforts should be focused on increasing the prestige of locally produced foods and preserving traditional food systems knowledge. The rising cost of non-communicable diseases makes this an economic as well as a health issue. The Papua New Guinea government appeared to be changing its approach and had launched a National Strategy for Responsible Sustainable Development in 2014.


photo (6)


Papua New Guinea had the capacity to develop smallholder farms and sustain its population with traditional foods.  A region like the Markham Valley in Papua New Guinea could feed the nation.  But there was insufficient investment in the agriculture sector.  Government attention was focused primarily on the resources sector.  Young Papua New Guineans were encouraged to move from rural to urban areas to obtain low-paid jobs rather than work in agriculture where they could earn much more from crops such as coffee beans.  Similarly in Australia, careers in agriculture were not appealing to young people.  More investment in diversified farming and in downstream processing would help increase the value of agriculture in both countries.

In Australia there has been a growing trend towards macro agriculture.  But experience in developing countries showed that investment in micro agriculture was more productive for them.  For example, India was the biggest producer of dairy and 80 per cent of dairy products were consumed within one kilometre of the cow that produced them.  Access to finance and insurance was important for smallholders.  This was challenging in rural areas but mobile phone technology could be harnessed to offer access to capital and insurance in remote and rural areas.


Another important issue for both countries was youth engagement. For Australia this was central to tackling law and justice problems, particularly in Indigenous communities. An economic argument could be used to put pressure on government to re-evaluate their approach. The costs associated with incarcerating people were much higher than the costs of early intervention or programs to support young Indigenous people through school. Participants highlighted the effectiveness of the arts in this process. Through the use of mediums such as theatre, Indigenous youths were able to communicate their experiences of the justice system with the wider community and with law enforcement agencies. This highlighted the sometimes unfair prejudices Indigenous people faced and was able to spark a dialogue between the police and Indigenous communities on the issues in their relationship.

Sport could also be a very effective tool to engage young people and in the process impart important values, increase self-esteem and provide good role models and an alternative support network. In Indigenous communities in Australia sporting programs helped to inject pride back into the young people’s lives. By focusing on what they can do, rather than using the language of victimhood, programs like these saw huge successes in lowering the rates of crime in some Indigenous communities. The challenge was to scale these programs to achieve positive effects in other communities.

The Papua New Guinea participants greatly valued the input of the Indigenous participants, recognising the many shared challenges their communities faced. They also saw success with programs that used sport as a means of attracting young people’s attention to broader issues, for example environmental damage to coastlines from household rubbish. In Papua New Guinea there were not the same opportunities for young athletes to reach professional levels of sport and participants expressed their desire to see this change.

Participants from both countries acknowledged the importance of clear communication and cooperation between all of the parties working with young people. Schools were recognised to be vitally important but they must work with service providers and parents. There were many NGOs doing important work in this space, however participants were aware that there could be duplication of work between some.



The use of technology was viewed as central to innovation and entrepreneurship in the health sector. It transformed administration processes making health systems more cost-effective in Australia. Moving from paper systems to electronic systems made collecting and using health information far easier. An individual’s health records could be quickly accessed across Australia and many parts of the world. There were also many health applications for mobile devices that could be easily accessed, for example calorie and exercise trackers to assist in weight loss. Creative online approaches to mental health also had a big impact for young Australians. Online platforms that gave them access to medical information and professionals were a powerful way for young people to take ownership of their health, particularly with the sensitive issue of mental health.

Technology was not as advanced in Papua New Guinea’s health sector. Mobile technologies had improved data collection methods in the field. There were also technologies in the pilot phase for surveillance of infectious disease outbreaks. The responsibility for health service delivery was gradually shifting from government to the private sector and non-government organisations. Large mining companies like Oil Search had become big players in health services because they had better financial systems and capacity to roll out large-scale programs targeting HIV and malaria. The Papua New Guinea government could replicate these kinds of public-private partnerships with other health service delivery initiatives and in this way capitalise on technological advancements.


Participants discussed new social entrepreneurship as a means of tackling problems, such as those in Papua New Guinea’s health sector, with creative business approaches that were economically viable. This required looking for gaps in markets and creating projects to fill those gaps in ways that would bring profit and social returns. For example in South Africa, an innovative insurance scheme which offered life insurance to people living with HIV contingent on them adhering to medical treatment was resulting in these people being fitter and living longer and thus making a positive contribution to society.  Innovation is not just about finding new solutions; it is about improving on what already works and making current systems more sustainable.  It requires collaboration across different sectors. However, there was a cautionary note from participants during this discussion; in the attempt to find the solution to problems of inequality and poverty people can overlook the fact that diverse contexts require diverse solutions.

It is difficult to involve all sectors of society in programs that aim to promote entrepreneurship. In Australia, there were targeted programs that supported Indigenous small business owners in the first three years of running their businesses. In Papua New Guinea there were programs developed specifically for women and young people in business. Only one per cent of the Papua New Guinea population was actively involved in formal business. There are significant strains on the Papua New Guinea economy and the population is quite risk-averse, so it was difficult to inspire people to become entrepreneurs.

There were other emerging economies that had successfully built a culture of enterprise from which Papua New Guinea could draw lessons. In Kenya the ihub is an enabling and support mechanism for entrepreneurs in IT ( There were also programs like Endeavour (, a global incubator program for start-ups. In Australia, entrepreneurs could get support for their projects through formal programs with universities and the government but there were also avenues to find informal support, like co-working spaces and technology innovation groups accessible through Meetup platforms.


In Papua New Guinea there were also new programs being launched to foster entrepreneurship amongst young people. This was an essential project because of the lack of opportunities for young people in Papua New Guinea to continue to higher education or gain formal employment after high school. There were 24 000 students graduating from high school and only 4 000 places at universities in Papua New Guinea. However, it was difficult to inspire young people to start their own businesses because of the risks that came with that. Most Papua New Guineans had an obligation to help support their extended family and wantok networks, which made them more inclined to take on low-paid but secure jobs.

Participants proposed building on the business incubation programs that were already in existence by creating a business exchange program between PNG and Australia. The program would seek to promote small business as an alternative form of employment for young people by providing them with educational resources to see how other small businesses have been successful and selecting participants to travel to each other’s countries to experience how business works there. Another element of this program would be high-level mentoring from key figures of large corporate companies. It could also be replicated for people in middle management positions in state-owned enterprises who would learn a lot from the experience and are already in decision-making positions so could begin to implement what they had learned immediately. Participants noted that Papua New Guinea’s state-owned enterprises, because of their important national role in service provision and their own particular challenges merited this kind of assistance. This would require the support of the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments and the private sector.




In the session on International Engagement participants discussed the varied nature of the Australia-Papua New Guinea relationship as well as the two countries’ relations with their neighbours. The participants recognised the immense strategic importance of Papua New Guinea to Australia. The strategic geography of the region placed Papua New Guinea on the air and maritime approaches to Australia. This made the continued stability and territorial integrity of Papua New Guinea a vital interest of Australia’s. The Australian Government continued to provide extensive support to Papua New Guinea’s security through over AUD 11 million of funding a year to the Defence Cooperation Program and extensive assistance to the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary through the Australian Federal Police. These programs were essential to increasing the professionalism and capacity of these organisations. However, there needed to be more accountability and transparency regarding the appointments of senior commanders and greater commitment to political impartiality within the security forces.



The participants identified shared history as a key element in relations between Australia and Papua New Guinea. The Kokoda Track continued to attract immense interest from Australians and thousands walked the track every year. This had important benefits for rural communities in the area as visitors, tour operators and non-government organisations such as the Kokoda Track Foundation delivered income and social programs. However, the way tourism around the track operated does not fully recognise the Papua New Guinea story of Kokoda or Papua New Guinea culture. More and more Papua New Guineans were walking the track and they could be integrated with the Australian groups. The expansion of the National Museum of Papua New Guinea and the Papua New Guinea in WWII Oral History project (…) would also deepen the experience. Other new tourism developments, such as Carnival Australia’s cruises, were giving Australians an experience of Papua New Guinea and providing some training and infrastructure for communities involved. Papua New Guinea entrepreneurs, with support and access to capital could take advantage of this growing market to increase the economic benefits of tourism to communities.


Participants also reflected on some contentious areas of the Australia-Papua New Guinea relationship. Papua New Guinea participants raised the damage they considered the Regional Processing Centre on Manus had done to Papua New Guinea’s image on the world stage and in Australia. The Australian media had portrayed Manus as a “hell hole” which was completely at odds with the lives of the people of Manus. Tensions between residents and asylum seekers in Manus had been exacerbated by a lack of understanding and communication. There was also a perception among some Papua New Guineans that the services and assistance were being directed at the asylum seekers and contractors rather than the people of Manus province. Evidence on the ground showed that this was not necessarily the case and that the assistance from Australia was delivering a number of direct benefits to the residents of Manus.  Companies based in Morobe province were also benefiting from contracts related to the Refugee Resettlement Arrangement.


The regional processing centre had also pushed the Papua New Guinea government and people to re-examine the status of asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea. This was most relevant to the thousands of West Papuans residing in Papua New Guinea who now had the opportunity to apply for refugee status. There was a general lack of awareness about the plight of West Papuans in Australia. The ability of the Papua New Guinea and Australian governments to engage on the issue was complicated by important bilateral relations with Indonesia.


2014-05-26 12.56.40

The participants discussed issues surrounding Bougainville, its peacebuilding experience and its upcoming referendum on independence between 2015 and 2020. Bougainville faced many of the same challenges as the rest of Papua New Guinea in terms of sustainable development but the history surrounding the Panguna mine and the conflict made the issue of how natural resources are used more controversial. Reconciliation between groups within Bougainville and with Papua New Guinea was crucial for social cohesion and peacebuilding. Some of the Papua New Guinean participants were sorry that there was a desire for independence in Bougainville. They noted that few young people in Papua New Guinea were aware of the history of the Bougainville conflict and had not engaged in discussions about the implications of independence.

The Australian participants, for their part, noted that there was very little awareness of Bougainville amongst young people in Australia.  Participants believed that Australian organisations could play a constructive role in helping to provide platforms for more conversations and awareness about Bougainville within Papua New Guinea.

You can help the emerging Bougainville leaders of tomorrow by donating books and Kindles here

Bookgainville  Project on Bougainville PNG



Bougainville Women’s News: Strengthening the participation of women in Bougainville’s development


The Challenge: Prior to the conflict, Bougainville women played vital roles in community-level decision-making and were key agents of development. Overall, women held important positions in the family and community. Since the conflict this role has been weakened, resulting in women being marginalised from community decision-making processes. Further, during the conflict, women suffered violence as victims of torture, rape, and forced labour. The weakened capacity of women as agents of development within their communities and the low capacity of government departments working at the local level are widely viewed as significant challenges to development efforts

View the World Bank Website for more


Located at the eastern-most point of the New Guinea islands, Bougainville comprises two large and many smaller islands. It has a population of approximately 200,000 and over a dozen different languages. A province of Papua New Guinea since 1975, Bougainville is now an autonomous region within the country — the result of a nine-year revolt that left tens of thousands killed, a divided and traumatised population, degraded infrastructure, and a shattered economy brought on by the collapse of its main industry, mining.


The Inclusive Development in Post-Conflict Bougainville project will benefit women and women’s organisations across the autonomous region as well as communities where projects are implemented and the individuals and agencies who are trained under the project.

The project consists of three components:

  1. Building Capacity for Inclusive Community Development; training women’s organisations and civil society organisations to support the involvement of women in community development. Training is provided for staff in the government, district and sub-district levels.
  2. Small Grants for Inclusive Community Development; women’s groups are invited to apply the concepts and skills they have learned from training directly to the design and implementation of community-based projects through the availability of small grants.
  3. Project Management and Knowledge Sharing.



Through component 1, training has been delivered to 450 participants, exceeding the goal of 400 in the implementation plan.  Over two thirds of the participants have been women, exceeding the target of about 40%.  There were 51 participants from the Public Service which exceeds the goal of 46 as well as 190 participants from CSOs which exceeded the goal of 152.

Through component 2, small grants have been awarded to 41 women’s groups, including at least one project in each of Bougainville’s 13 districts. People benefitting from completed grant projects are estimated at over 48,000, nearly 25% of the population.

An Independent Monitoring Group concluded that public goods from the project are reaching communities with overall sound management of funds and that women’s roles are being strengthened through their direct management, ownership and leadership in the whole process.


Bank contribution

The World Bank (State and Peace-building Fund) has contributed US$2.5 million for this project


Moving forward

With the project currently set to close in March 2015, plans are underway to secure additional financing to extend the project to March 2018. Additional financing would support the provision of two more rounds of small grants to women’s groups, one per round for each of the 41 Community Governments.  Training would continue to build the capacity of women’s groups while also engaging District officials and Community Government leaders more actively in development planning monitoring and implementation support.

Promotion/Advertising : Donate here to support educating young girls throughout Bougainville

Bookgainville  Project on Bougainville PNG


Bougainville Education News : Can Innovative SMS stories improve English literacy in Bougainville ?


With Bougainville leading the way in the use of digital technology to improve literacy though the use of Bookgainville Kindles currently being introduced to 15 Bougainville schools in 2015 by James Tanis and Simon Pentanu, its time we investigated other cost efficient technologies such as daily mobile phone text message stories that could improve English teaching and ultimately, children’s reading.

Given the many great challenges facing Bougainville’s education sector, its low current capacity to meet these challenges,
and the fact that ‘business as usual’ is not working, while at the same time Kindle and mobile phone use has been growing rapidly across society, might ICTs, and specifically kindles and mobile phones, offer new opportunities to help meet many long-standing, ‘conventional’ education needs

We welcome your comments and support

SEE Bougainville leads the way Previous article


Picture above leaders of the education revolution promoting Bookgainville Internationally to attract donations

From 500ways Education News

The majority of primary school children in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are unable to read English, a fact that’s exacerbated by limited access to literacy resources in schools across the country. In partnership with the PNG Department of Education, VSO successfully trialled a programme to see if daily mobile phone text message stories could improve English teaching and ultimately, children’s reading. Read about the programme’s success below.

Tackling literacy levels with technology                                                                                                                       

Like many schools in Papua New Guinea, Bunamgl School has virtually no access to reading materials, making teaching and learning English an enormous challenge. It is among several rural primary schools in the coastal region of Madang which took part in a research project to see whether sending daily stories to teachers via daily text messages could help improve children’s reading. Over a period of 100 days, a daily lesson plan and short story was sent to teachers by text message. The teacher would then write the story on the board, and teach that story to the children. While books and teaching materials are scarce in Papua New Guinea, nearly every teacher has a mobile phone.

“We were really finding it difficult to teach English to our children,” said one teacher, “but these SMS stories encouraged students to come to school every day expecting a new story. They help us teach and make it more enjoyable for us teachers as well as the children.”

SMS Story was designed by VSO’s education programme manager Richard Jones in collaboration with VSO volunteers and local education specialists to support children in reading English, incorporating phonics and keywords. There was no formal training involved so teachers were given a cartoon poster that explained how to use the text messages. For 20 weeks, 50% of teachers received a daily SMS story and a lesson plan via mobile phone, while the other half did not and the children’s reading was assessed before and after the trial. The research was led by a VSO volunteer Nasiib Kaleebu with a team of young Papua New Guinean researchers.

“SMS Stories cut down on our work-load especially for drawing up the lesson plans” explains a teacher at another participating school. “During the few weeks of the SMS Stories, students were reading and also learning to write their own stories” adds a teacher from Kunabau.

Success of SMS stories

After two academic terms, classes which received the daily SMS stories recorded a significant improvement in children’s reading skills compared to other schools. There were also major differences in the teaching and learning strategies used by the teachers. SMS stories recorded a 50% increase in the number of children who could read English. VSO volunteer Alison Gee helped coordinate the project,

“It was a humbling experience and I was fortunate to be part of a team that made such a significant difference to those teachers and children. When we visited the participating schools, the children, parents and teachers were all determined to show us how well their children could read. Parents came to the schools to thank us, some had never learnt to read themselves but wanted their children to do well at school and saw the importance of the initiative.”

Following the trial, some teachers said they would like this approach built into the curriculum and the stories and lesson plans are being included in the new national PNG curriculum.

“Schoolteachers here are very hard working but they get very little training, so this is a way of structuring their lessons for them” adds Richard Jones, VSO education programme manager.

In the absence of reading materials and materials to help plan lessons, SMS Stories provides a simple and low-cost way to raise literacy levels. The cost was K2.01 per child (50p) and it is estimated this cost would drop further if the project is scaled up, as Richard Jones explains, “It’s a very cheap way of getting reading materials to schools – we found that no one has ever done this anywhere else in the world.”

Bougainville should be promoting literacy with mobile phones ?

Last year I spent some time in Papua New Guinea (or PNG, as it is often called), where the World Bank is supporting a number of development projects, and has activities in both the ICT and education sectors. For reasons historical (PNG became an independent nation only in 1975, breaking off from Australia), economic (Australia’s is by far PNG’s largest export market) and geographical (the PNG capital, Port Moresby, lies about 500 miles from Cairns, across the Coral Sea), Australia provides a large amount of support to the education sector in Papua New Guinea, and I was particularly interested in learning lessons from the experiences of AusAid, the (now former) Australian donor agency.

For those who haven’t been there: PNG is a truly fascinating place. It is technically a middle income country because of its great mineral wealth but, according to the Australian government, “Despite positive economic growth rates in recent years, PNG’s social indicators are among the worst in the Asia Pacific. Approximately 85 per cent of PNG’s mainly rural population is poor and an estimated 18 per cent of people are extremely poor. Many lack access to basic services or transport. Poverty, unemployment and poor governance contribute to serious law and order problems.”

Among other things, PNG faces vexing (and in some instances, rather unique) circumstances related to remoteness (overland travel is often difficult and communities can be very isolated from each other as a result; air travel is often the only way to get form one place to another: with a landmass approximately that of California, PNG has 562 airports — more, for example, than China, India or the Philippines!) and language (PNG is considered the most linguistically diverse country in the world, with over 800 (!) languages spoken). The PNG education system faces a wide range of challenges as a result. PNG ranks only 156th on the Human Development Index and has a literacy rate of less than 60%.  As an overview from the Australian government notes,

“These include poor access to schools, low student retention rates and issues in the quality of education. It is often hard for children to go to school, particularly in the rural areas, because of distance from villages to schools, lack of transport, and cost of school fees. There are not enough schools or classrooms to take in all school-aged children, and often the standard of school buildings is very poor. For those children who do go to school, retention rates are low. Teacher quality and lack of required teaching and educational materials are ongoing issues.”

[For those who are interested, here is some general background on PNG from the World Bank, and from the part of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that used to be known as AusAid, a short report about World Bank activities to support education in PNG from last year and an overview of the World Bank education project called READ PNG.]

If you believe that innovation often comes about in response to tackling great challenges, sometimes in response to scarcities of various sorts, Papua New Guinea is perhaps one place to put that belief to the test.

Given the many great challenges facing PNG’s education sector, its low current capacity to meet these challenges,
and the fact that ‘business as usual’ is not working, while at the same time mobile phone use has been growing rapidly across society,
might ICTs, and specifically mobile phones, offer new opportunities to help meet many long-standing, ‘conventional’ needs

in perhaps ‘unconventional’ ways?

A small research project called SMS Story has been exploring answers to this question.

Project overview

In the words of a very interesting impact assessment report [pdf] that was recently released (those pressed for time may just wish to make due with the executive summary [pdf]),

“The aim of the SMS Story research project was to determine if daily mobile phone text message stories and lesson plans would improve children’s reading in Papua New Guinea (PNG) elementary schools. […] The stories and lesson plans were designed to introduce children to reading English and followed an underlying phonics and key word based methodology. Teachers in the trial received a cartoon poster explaining how to use the daily text messages and received a total of 100 text message stories and 100 related text message lessons for two academic terms. They did not receive any in-service training. Research was conducted in rural elementary schools in two provinces, Madang and Simbu, and has involved a baseline reading assessment, mid-point lesson and classroom observations and an end-point reading assessment.”

Results and impact

The project, which was funded by the Australian Government and designed and managed by Voluntary Services Overseas, in partnership with the PNG Department of Education, was implemented as a small controlled experiment utlizing the popular Frontline SMS tool.

Some key results observed include (I am quoting directly from the evaluation report):

[-] Children who did not receive the SMS Story were approximately twice as likely to be unable to read a single word of three sub-tests (decodable words, sight words and oral reading). In other words the intervention almost halved the number of children who could not read anything compared with the control schools.

[-] The research did not find a statistically significant improvement in reading comprehension and generally children showed low reading comprehension skills in both grades and little progression between grade 1 and 2.

[-] All participating schools had very few reading books, if any, available in the classroom.

[-] In the absence of reading materials and scripted lessons in elementary schools SMS Story provides a simple and cheap strategy for raising reading standards.

The evaluation also notes that:

[-] There remained a worryingly large number of children who scored zero on the tests, particularly in grade 1, even after the intervention.

As Amanda Watson, one of the researchers, commented in a recent interview about the project with Radio Australia, “I think the content was really important, because no one involved in this trial would suggest that schools shouldn’t have books. We all would like to see more books in schools, but the reality is that in these schools there are very few books and so the content created a lot of enjoyment for both teachers and students.”

In addition to whatever value the content itself offered, Watson noted another benefit: “the teachers were actually receiving materials and ideas and suggestions daily. So rather than perhaps being given a training manual a couple of years ago or having been given a guide at the start of the school year or something. The teachers actually received almost like a reminder to teach, a bit of a motivator to keep teaching and they received that every single day and we think that really helped them to realise that they’re supposed to be teaching reading every single day, five days a week.”

While most of the attention of developers and researchers excited by potential uses of mobile phones in education focus on the creation and usage of various ‘mobile apps’ on smartphones, lessons from SMS Story project remind us that, in some of the most challenging environments in the world — especially rural ones — the existing infrastructure of low end phones offers opportunities for creative and innovative groups who wish to engage with teachers and learners in these communities. The results may not be ‘transformational’ on their own, and doing this sort of thing may not win any style points among the ‘cool kids’ in technology-saturated capital cities in much of the ‘developed world’ interested in the ‘latest and greatest’. That said, the best technology is often the one you already have, know how to use, and can afford. In a rural school in Papua New Guinea today, that technology is usually a mobile phone. In many other similar communities around the world, it may be well.

Those who would like more information about the SMS Story project may wish to read the full report on the VSO web site and/or a related paper [pdf] published by the researchers involved.

You may also be interested in the following post from the EduTech blog
, which draws on experiences and lessons from places like Papua New Guinea:
[-] 10 principles to consider when introducing ICTs into remote, low-income educational environments

DONATE TODAY a few kina or dollars to help our Bougainville Education revolution BOOKGAINVILLE

Bookgainville  Project on Bougainville PNG


Bougainville International News: USA Pacific fleet partnership to benefit Bougainville


A site survey team from the United States Pacific Fleet will be arriving in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville this week.
According to a statement from the US embassy in Port Moresby, the team hopes to survey potential areas for U.S assistance in Arawa, Central Bougainville under a programme called the Pacific Partnership.

Pacific Partnership was founded to deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster resilience to the pacific nations following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Its potential activities range from medical, dental, veterinarian care to construction projects and crisis response training. Papua New Guinea benefited most recently in Wewak and Vanimo in 2013 and this year’s engagement is planned for Bougainville and Rabaul.

The programme as revealed by the statement is a great opportunity to expand people to people ties with the United States and deliver benefits for the people of Bougainville.

Bougainville Education and Health News: New report -A lost decade? Service Delivery and reforms in Papua New Guinea

photo (9)

The positive results revealed by the survey not only show that progress in service delivery is possible in Papua New Guinea, but also show how progress can be made. A large chunk of the report is devoted to understanding the impact (or lack of impact) of recent reforms, such as free health and education, and the reasons for the differences and trends that we observe”

Launched at the ANU Canberra Australia by Mr Charles Lepani Papua New Guinea High Commissioner to Australia

Picture Colin Cowell Bougainville News; Canberra

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT HERE , A lost decade? Service delivery and reforms in Papua New Guinea,

How to make service delivery work in Bougainville and Papua New Guinea

A report based on two surveys ten years apart and two years of analysis has been  by a team of researchers from the National Research Institute (NRI) and The Australian National University (ANU).

In 2002, the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (NRI), in collaboration with the World Bank, surveyed some 330 primary schools and health clinics across the country, from the national capital to the most remote districts. In 2012, NRI, this time in collaboration with the Development Policy Centre at ANU, went back to many of the same primary schools and health clinics in the same eight provinces, this time surveying a total of about 360 facilities.

The end-product is a data set of unprecedented detail and depth in relation to service delivery in PNG. Indeed, very few countries around the world can boast of a panel survey of facilities of this type which enables comparisons to be made over time.

The NRI-ANU research team has spent the last two years analysing the data sets,


The report, A lost decade? Service delivery and reforms in Papua New Guinea, shows that PNG’s primary schools have expanded rapidly over the last decade, but that fewer services are now provided by its health clinics.

Since the difficulties of service delivery in PNG are already well-known, what is perhaps more interesting are the areas of progress shown in the report. There were 89 per cent more children enrolled in the average PNG primary school in 2012 compared to 2001. Whereas there used to be one girl at primary school for every two boys, now there is almost one girl for every boy. The number of teachers has grown by a third over the decade, and the share of female teachers has grown from a quarter to a half. The number of ghost teachers (teachers claiming pay but not actually working) has fallen dramatically. The average school has more and better classrooms, teacher houses and textbooks. More have drinking water and electricity.

Of course, PNG’s primary schools and – to a much greater extent – health clinics still face many challenges. A third of classrooms require rebuilding: the same share as in 2002. Class sizes have increased a lot, and there are broader concerns about the quality of education on offer. Though the number of children in school has certainly increased, absenteeism has risen.

Nevertheless, the positive results revealed by the survey not only show that progress in service delivery is possible in Papua New Guinea, but also show how progress can be made. A large chunk of the report is devoted to understanding the impact (or lack of impact) of recent reforms, such as free health and education, and the reasons for the differences and trends that we observe.

Getting finances to the service delivery front-line stands out as critical. A lot more funds are reaching schools today than health clinics. About 40 per cent of health clinics receive no external support at all (in cash or in kind), whereas nearly all schools receive the twice-yearly subsidy payments. And schools receive more than twice as much funding than they did ten years ago, even after inflation. What they have lost in school fees they have more than made up for through generous government support.

Local governance and supervision also matter. Schools have mature and increasingly powerful Boards of Management which provide local oversight. They receive community support through P&C Committees. And most schools are inspected.

Resolving workforce issues is also key. The Education Department has been able to hire new teachers, whereas many retired health workers continue in place since there is no-one to replace them. Significantly, about half the health workers we interviewed felt they were not being paid at the correct grade. That was true of teachers ten years ago, but now it is only 10 per cent. Again, progress is possible.

In summary, getting funding to the front line, providing community and administrative oversight, and sorting out human resource problems seems to be the secret for the success of PNG’s primary schools. It is a recipe that could be applied more to primary health care, perhaps starting at the bigger district-level facilities.

Regular monitoring of basic data across PNG is critical for understanding what is working, what isn’t working, and why. Without it, we will be in the dark about service delivery. We look forward to the discussion that we hope our report will generate. In our next phase of research, we’ll be going back into the field to undertake more detailed case studies to better understand the conditions required for service delivery success. And perhaps in another five years or so we’ll be able to further develop this unique data set by undertaking another nationwide facility survey.

The PNG Promoting Effective Public Expenditure Project

A lost decade? Service delivery and reforms in Papua New Guinea 2002-2012

Stephen Howes, Andrew Anton Mako, Anthony Swan, Grant Walton, Thomas Webster and Colin Wiltshire
October 2014
This report presents the results of a 2012 survey of 360 primary schools and health clinics across eight provinces in PNG, from the nation’s capital to its most far-flung and inaccessible regions. Many of the same facilities were surveyed at the start of the decade. By combining the two surveys, we can assess progress on health and education service delivery over time, and analyse the impact of important policy reforms.

Professor Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre. Andrew Anton Mako was a Research Fellow at NRI for most of the duration of this project. Dr Grant Walton and Dr Anthony Swan are Research Fellows at the Development Policy Centre. Dr Thomas Webster is the Director of the National Research Institute. Colin Wiltshire is the Project Manager for the PEPE project at the Development Policy Centre.


Bougainville “good news” Story: 2014 has been a very progressive year for Central Bougainville

Pic 1

The current government’s free education policy has seen increase in the number enrolments at schools around Central Bougainville. Numbers of schools are also on the increase and this means that more money must continue to put into education every year. Bougainville has missed out on education during the crisis and we have to bridge the gap created when children could not go to school during the troubled period.

What we need is a broader based economy instead of just relying on extractive industries that may run out one day. One of the biggest assets Bougainville has is its people who are creative and innovative. This is why there must be emphasis in putting a lot of money into education.

Picture above : A new classroom building funded by member for Central Bougainville, Jimmy Miringtoro at Raiovi Primary School Wakunai District, Our thanks to Chris Baria for assistance with this article

Good things ahead-On the Sunny Side

This year 2014 has been a very progressive year for Central Bougainville. The region started the year on a positive note with the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill visiting all three regions of Bougainville including Central. During his visit he made a commitment to the people of Bougainville to fund high impact projects, several of which are in Central Bougainville.

Map 2

These are the water and sanitation restoration for Arawa Town, the Aropa Airport re-opening and the other major project is of course the sealing of Bougainville Coastal Trunk from Buka to Buin.


This is a clear indication of commitment that the National Government with the support our four Bougainville MPs has a strong desire to see the Autonomous Region of Bougainville prosper in the coming years.

We have come a long way since the peace agreement was signed and there is a lot to be done as yet for Bougainville to achieve what was agreed to in the peace process. In Central Bougainville we have devoted a lot of time and money in improving education by providing more classrooms to accommodate ever increasing number enrolments in schools in the bid to bridge the gap left by the Bougainville crisis.

Education is one of the priority sectors that the government is putting money into along with Health, Infrastructure Development, Law and Order and Business Development. Health centers and aid-posts are also receiving funds from my electoral office. The police in Arawa have benefited from a vehicle allocation from the office of Member for Central as part of his community efforts to enhance the law and order sector. Funding has also been made available to the local Business Association as a form of assistance to grow small businesses in Central Bougainville.

Rural Communications Project and Integrated Government Information System (IGIS)

The government has already rolled out a rural communications project. You many have noticed new towers set up in areas that were not formerly serviced by mobile phone network. By the end of 2015 the government hopes that Bougainville will have more than 50% mobile network coverage that will include data, Internet and telephony. By 2016 Bougainville should have 100% mobile network coverage including remote and rural locations, which are not service by roads.

The main aim of the Rural Communications Project is to provide access to telecommunications and other ICT services including TV, internet, FM Radio and Data storage and transmission to rural and remote locations that lack these services.

The government has also established the “integrated government information system” or IGIS for short. This is the forerunner of e-government for Papua New Guinea. Under this ICT infrastructure all government departments and divisions will be interlinked through a computer network, which also has a data bank. This will prevent duplication and enable data and information sharing with ease.

Information can be stored at central location where those who need it and/or if they require it. The Rural Communication Project roll out will establish communication network that will become integrated into IGIS and link up all local level governments with the main government network and data center. This will mean that leaders will have to be more transparent in their work because the people will be able to monitor their performance online through IGIS.

Supporting sustainable development

Papua New Guinea is heavily reliant on logging, minerals, oil and gas for its revenue generation. These industries while they may bring economic boom to a country do have large problems associated with them and for one thing they are non-renewable, and finite and therefore unsustainable. Central Bougainville has had its taste of mining activity during the 70s and 80s.

What we need is a broader based economy instead of just relying on extractive industries that may run out one day. One of the biggest assets Bougainville has is its people who are creative and innovative. This is why there must be emphasis in putting a lot of money into education.

The current government’s free education policy has seen increase in the number enrolments at schools around Central Bougainville. Numbers of schools are also on the increase and this means that more money must continue to put into education every year. Bougainville has missed out on education during the crisis and we have to bridge the gap created when children could not go to school during the troubled period.

Kindles a revolutionary literacy tool in Bougainville schools

In another first for Central Bougainville and in fact Papua New Guinea,James Tanis (former Bougainville President) has established Book-Gain-Ville E reader Revolution in a number of schools in Central Bougainville including Nariana, St. Judes Pok Pok Island, Dareenai Kavearonau and Piruana .

It was launched as  an initiative to improve literacy throughout Bougainville.

Each Kindle can hold up to 1,400 books and by the end of 2014 there will over 50 kindles in 11 Bougainville schools. To date there has been no government support but hopefully in 2015 with the support of Government and NGO’s more schools can get these E reader libraries

See Website for more details or make a donation

Government Development Priorities

As part of its continuing commitment the National Government development policy covers five development sectors, which are in, line with its Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP). These are also applicable to Bougainville. These sectors are Health, Education, Infrastructure, Law and Order and Small Business. In line with this plan Bougainville MPs have funded a number of health facilities. In Central this includes Manetai and Wakunai Health Centres and a number of village level aid posts in the rural communities.

PiC 3

In the health sector, the office of MP for in Central has also funded ambulances to all major health centres in Central Bougainville. More money has been spent on building classrooms and other school infrastructure to cater for the increase in the number of enrolments over the years.

With regard to infrastructure, considerable amount of money is being used on feeder road maintenance including, for the first time a new road into remote and densely populated area in Paruparu previously inaccessible by road. A considerable level of funds has also allocated to restoration of Aropa Airport, which is about to be opened soon. PNG Power also received funding to provide power to Arawa town, Kieta port and to the new Kieta Distict entre in Toniva. Up to K1million has been committed to the Central Bougainville Business Association to assist small business in the region.

Looking ahead

Pic 5

Children are our future

Lot of work has been done to provide much needed infrastructure such as roads, schools, and of course the soon be reopened Aropa Airport. Services such as health and education continue to more draw more funds from the government through my electoral office and the treasury.

A lot more needs to be done to improve current services and to build more roads and schools. The government is ready to help out in anyway it can. However, there are certain areas where the community can contribute to the development process. For example, in order for feeder roads to last longer, drains need to kept clear of debris and grass has to be cut along the roadside. A little preventive maintenance can make a lot of difference.

Same goes for schools. Parents and community must devote sometime to do maintenance work, cleaning and grass-cutting in the school areas. The community must help to look after what the government has provided for them. The government cannot be expected to do everything. In order for us to move ahead it requires joint effort by all.

Bougainville Manifesto News: Where to for Bougainville? Review of Leonard Fong Roka’s new book

Where to for Bougainville? A polemic, a plea & a plan

Bougainville Manifesto cover

As Published in CHRIS OVERLAND in PNG Attitude

Bougainville Manifesto by Leonard Fong Roka, Pukpuk Publishing, 88pp, ISBN-10:1502917459. Available from Amazon: hard copy $US6.00; Kindle $US2.98

LEONARD Fong Roka comes from Panguna on Bougainville. Between 2013 and 2014 he wrote a series of articles about Bougainville that first appeared on the PNG Attitude website.

The essays outline the history of Bougainville, including the civil war in the 1980-90s, and suggest a way forward towards eventual independence from Papua New Guinea.

Bougainville Manifesto is many things: a history, a polemic, a plea and a plan of sorts. In it, Roka writes with considerable passion about his island home.

He asserts that, prior to the colonial era, Bougainville was part of a Solomon Islands nation state that had been in existence for at least 30,000 years. There is, in his judgement, compelling historic, socio-cultural and linguistic evidence to support this claim.


Roka rejects outright any idea that Bougainville is logically part of Papua New Guinea, which he regards as being an abstract creation of European colonialism, that was itself an expression of the larger “scramble for Empire” which characterised European politics during much of late 19th and early 20th century.

Roka’s writing is especially passionate and eloquent when he outlines the destruction of Bougainvillean culture and traditional social structures that was a result of the European takeover of the island.

He believes that colonialism rendered Bougainvilleans virtually powerless in the face of a more technologically advanced culture: second class citizens in their own land.  This opinion is consistent with what is now probably the generally accepted view about the impact of colonialism on the colonised.

Bougainville’s demise as a long standing self governing entity laid the ground work for the future disaster that was to consume it.

It was arbitrarily included in a country created by imperial decision makers who had never seen it and knew nothing of its history or ethnic origins.

Its people saw the systematic destruction of their culture and traditions at the hands of the colonial power and were reduced, in Roka’s mind, to near slavery, functionally if not actually dispossessed of their land.

Bougainville remained a colonial backwater until the discovery of vast copper resources near Panguna. This suddenly elevated it to the most resource rich and economically important province in the proposed new nation of Papua New Guinea.

The Australian colonial administration was determined that a vast copper mine should be developed so as to provide a source of income to PNG once it achieved independence.

The development went ahead without any real regard for the wishes of the legitimate traditional land owners at Panguna, who saw little benefit from the subsequent exploitation and destruction of their land.

For Roka, Bougainville was a parting gift from Australia to the newly created government of Papua New Guinea, a government dominated by “redskins” who had no regard at all for the needs or aspirations of Bougainville’s people.

The subsequent collapse of the Panguna venture brought about by the armed uprising led by Francis Ona is now well known, at least to those with an interest in PNG and the South Pacific generally.

Less well known is the complex web of relationships, described by Roka, that under lay the uprising and which helped propel Bougainville into a period of bloody civil war which, by Roka’s estimate, directly or indirectly caused the deaths of anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000 people.

Somehow this very brutal and destructive civil war seemed to pass largely unnoticed by the rest of the world. This is probably a commentary on the lack of importance much of the world attaches to the usually very small and poor countries of the South Pacific and Oceania.

In considering where Bougainville might go in the future, Roka rejects any idea that it should stay as a part of PNG. He is adamant that PNG is a colonial construct to which Bougainville has no historic, cultural or ethnic ties.

His strong desire is that it should become an independent entity, perhaps within a loose federation of the Solomon Islands.

It is his great fear that, in the forthcoming plebiscite about the future of the island, Bougainvilleans’ sense of their own identity and uniqueness has been so compromised by the events of the last century that they may not have the will to grasp perhaps their last chance to seize back control of their destiny.

He is deeply worried about what he describes as the “redskinisation” of his island and the apparent lack of strong leadership from Bougainvilleans in elected office.

Roka’s own vision for the future is of a sort of communalist, grass roots based system of governance that, to some degree at least, reflects the traditional structures of Bougainvillean society.

He advocates a strongly protectionist economic structure, an education system overtly oriented towards teaching about Bougainville’s unique culture and traditions and is attracted to the social democratic governance models found in Scandinavia, with their strong emphasis on equity and fairness. Whether such a model can be successfully transplanted into Bougainville is a moot point.

This is a useful book for anyone wishing to understand how Bougainville came to be in the situation that now prevails. Roka expresses what might reasonably be characterised as the views of a Bougainvillean “nationalist”, presenting a very different idea about what the future should be when compared to that of the PNG government.

If Roka’s views are representative of a significant majority of Bougainvilleans, then the result of the forthcoming referendum on the island’s future will see it moving towards independence. This will present huge challenges to both Bougainvilleans and PNG.

Even if his views represent those of a small but significant minority, then it is entirely conceivable that any referendum will achieve little other than to polarise opinion on Bougainville and, perhaps, incite a resurgence of the violence that bedevilled it in the recent past.

Whatever the future may hold for Bougainville, I fervently hope that it is a peaceful and prosperous one. Its people deserve nothing less.

You can help create a better future for Bougainville Children by donating books to schools


Bougainville Women’s Federation Survey : Why young women aren’t showing an interest in leadership roles.


A survey is being carried out of young women on Bougainville as part of a young women’s leadership programme.

The project is being undertaken by the Bougainville Women’s Federation and is trying to gauge why young women aren’t showing an interest in getting involved in women’s organisations and leadership roles.

President of the Bougainville Women’s Federation, Hona Holan (pictured above) , told Jamie Tahana the project is mainly to find out young women’s interests, and the barriers that keep them from getting involved.

FROM RADIO NZ listen to interview here

HONA HOLAN: We are coming together tomorrow to look at the results of the survey. By tomorrow we should put together the results. The survey was done by the young women of Bougainville with their siblings at the age of 18 to 35.

JAMIE TAHANA: Tell me a bit about this survey. You’ve surveyed how many young women of Bougainville and what did you ask them?

HH: The questions were on if they know about Bougainville Women’s Federation. If they work with other NGOs or church groups and if they are not involved with groups, what are their problems, what are their issues.

JT: Okay. And so this is to address a lack of women in leadership roles in Bougainville is it?

HH: That’s right. This Bougainville Women’s Federation, it’s looking at building the capacity of young women to be leaders of tomorrow. Like making space for them so that we mentor them and they can take our place when we move out of the leadership.

JT: Why do you think that is? That there aren’t so many women in leadership roles. What are the barriers here?

HH: Maybe the barriers are, young women are not interested in activities that we put out. Some questions that also went out to them is what are their interests or how we can get put their interests over so they can join in.

JT: Why is there no interest?

HH: We asked some of the questions around that and the young women were telling us that we are not giving them space. The older women, the mature women, are not giving them space, so that is what we found out from our survey.

JT: Once you get these results, what are you going to do from there?

HH: We are going to share it with the ABG and partners, like development partners, and then we can develop activities to affect, like building capacity and so on, we need to develop activities. It’s not easy because Bougainville Women’s Federation, we don’t have funding and it’s not easy so we need to share the results with other NGOs and the government of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea so we can all see what the young women are interested in. Some of the results are they need education, they need to further their education.

You can support the education of young girls and women by donating to our education revolution

DONATE HERE 20/50/100 $ or kina

2014-05-24 07.58.33