“There are strong indications that the benefits of mobile reading like kindles are long-lasting and far-reaching, with the potential to improve literacy, increase education opportunities and change people’s lives for the better.
A revolution in reading is upon us…”
For now BookGainVille cannot afford to buy a kindle for every child but what we do afford to give every child here and now is the dream to have access to one
The BookGainVille Cup Children’s Soccer kicked off last week at Kamex Children’s Field, Okangsira VA, Panguna District in Bougainville PNG
No uniforms, no boots and one soccer ball for both boys and girls.
A humble beginning to a big dream to self-raise funds to buy kindles for every child in Bougainville schools.
Using e-readers (like the Amazon Kindle) and potentially recycled phones the BookGainVille project wants to provide Bougainville children and families access to hundreds of thousands of books, giving them an opportunity to change their lives.
In May 2014 the Kindle project was launched in Bougainville and 11 schools now have donated kindles ,the latest this month being the Guava School near Panguna (see picture below)
The increasing ubiquity and diminishing costs of digital technology enabled BookGainville to solve these problems in a simple and straight-forward way. Wherever possible, they will be building on digital platforms and mobile connectivity to make our books available to children and families who need them the most. To date they have been providing e-readers to schools in need through both sponsorships and sales.
In the first stage BookGainville has utilized Amazon Kindles that cost originally Aus$99.00 and can hold up to 1,400 books each. If you consider 1 hard copy of a book could cost say 35 Kina , that’s potentially 50,000 kina worth of books potentially on just one Kindle. Each school 250,000 kina of books
BookGainVille will be actively curate books by Bougainville authors for our library. The more relevant and engaging a student’s first reads are, the more likely they are to continue learning and reading throughout their life
James Tanis continues to negotiate to ensure ABG adopts the kindle project for all Bougainville Schools . Recently Minister Michael Oni committed to funding kindles
The Bookgainville Cup and Kindles were donated by Colin Cowell, Simon Pentanu, Zhon Bosco and donors from PNG, Bougainville and International
Background to Bookgainville Education Project
In 2013 James Tanis the ex-President of Bougainville was studying at the Australian National University and teamed up with Canberra based Colin Cowell a communications consultant (who had a 44 year association with Bougainville) to find a solution to the problem “that most Bougainville school children not have any books to read.”
James from the Nariana community (via Panguna) and his friend Simon Pentanu from Pokpok Island believed there were strong indications that the benefits of mobile reading technology could be long-lasting and far-reaching, with the potential to improve literacy, increase education opportunities and change Bougainville students lives for the better
The need to improve literacy in Bougainville schools
According to UNESCO “Literacy is transformative: it increases earning potential, decreases inequality, improves health outcomes and breaks the cycle of poverty “.Yet there are still 740 million illiterate people in this world and in Bougainville there are many children of primary school age who lack basic reading and writing skills.
Books are necessary for the development of these skills, and still many schools in Bougainville have few or no books at all.
The BookGainville education vision
BookGainVille Education project Leadership group will be the voice for
1.Students to do their best and achieve their best;
2.Parents to make education the first priority in the family;
3.Demand those in possession of arms to replace their guns with pens and papers;
4.Tell landowners to negotiate for educational scholarships instead of cash payouts as compensation;
5.The political leaders to allocate the highest budget to education;
6.Reserve some resources now and leave some to our own children so that they will harvest when they acquire the technology,
7.Donors to advocate that education must form the highest portion of aid to Papua New Guinea (Bougainville) and
8.Advocate for all groups that contribute to education and knowledge.
I travel regularly through my matrilineal home districts of Panguna and Kieta to my patrilineal Buin where my partner and mother of 10-month old Dollorose comes from.
Whenever I do, a flood of thoughts torments me about the wording of Section 7 of the Bougainville Constitution.
This provision concerns the definition of who is a Bougainvillean.
Section 7 is disturbing because it says a Bougainvillean is a person who is a member (whether by birth or by adoption according to custom) of a Bougainvillean clan lineage (matrilineal or patrilineal) owning customary land in Bougainville.
There’s more we needn’t worry about.
The point is that through the diverse lenses of the 19-plus cultures of Bougainville, Section 7 has no value and relevance.
In all Bougainvillean societies, membership of any clan is a birthright whether male or female was born in or outside Bougainville.
All Bougainvillean societies practice adoption. In the Nasioi society the adopted members of other clans are referred to as bautara but their clan status never changes. They have access to land under the auspices of the individual who adopted them but they still remain bautara without much power in their new communities.
Bautara face their demise once their adoptee parent is dead or the population of their adoptee parent’s relatives strive for resources. Most bautara return to their origin and face a new series of setbacks especially over land rights that time has denied them.
But going back to my narrative. I have no automatic right to land in my matrilineal Nasioi society and my partner has no right to land in her patrilineal Buin society.
In my Nasioi society ownership and access are different issues.
I have access rights to land but the ownership rights are vested to my female relatives; likewise my partner has access rights to Buin land but only her brothers have ownership rights.
In this day and age, with the high growth rate of the Bougainville population and dwindling of natural resources, the rights to access land has limitations and conditions.
In these circumstances, my daughter is an alien in Bougainville and the law of this island has not served its purpose in protecting her. My daughter cannot lean on me when in need of land or citizenship, for Nasioi is a matrilineal society, and she cannot lean on her mother since Buin is a patrilineal society.
Bougainvillean cultures, unlike the Bougainville Constitution, have provisions that grant people like me land ownership rights. In Nasioi society, there are pieces of land where the ownership right is passed from father to the son (and daughter where there is no son).
On the unoccupied plateau above the Kupe-Topinang-Pomaua-Sirerongsi-Pakia Gap-Panguna circle, my grandfather passed to me and my brother such land ownership rights.
Thus my daughter has ownership rights (alongside her cousins from my brother) to this land but broader citizen’s rights are not settled by that since Kieta society recognises her as a Buin woman.
In Buin, there are cultural provisions that allow my partner land ownership rights; yet still our daughter Dolloroseis not a citizen of Buin as she is seen as being from my Kieta society.
The Bougainville Constitution clearly did not spell out the fate of children born to fathers from matrilineal societies marrying into patrilineal society and born to mothers from patrilineal societies marrying into matrilineal societies.
Our beloved children from such families are constitutional aliens on Bougainville. They will remain aliens till such time as Section 7 of the Bougainville Constitution is amended to serve this unique group of Bougainville people.
Bougainville Education News :Essay competition is an opportunity for students to have their say about the Bougainville’s future
Please share with your schools and networks
A new essay competition for secondary and high school students in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will provide youth with an opportunity to have their say about the future of the region.
Revised Closing date Friday 13 March 2015
“Is having a vote enough? What are citizens’ responsibilities in promoting and upholding democracy?”
aims to engage youth in discussion and what they see for their own future as Bougainvilleans.
Sponsored by the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea, the competition offers a laptop computer as a first prize.
The secondary and high school that the winning student attends will receive a Kindle (Can hold up to 1,400 books) from the Arawa based Bougainville E-reader Education Revolution Project that currently has 55 Kindles being distributed to 11 schools throughout Bougainville. SEE WEBSITE
Entries are open now and close on Friday 13 March 2015
The essay competition is open to all high school and secondary school students in Bougainville. Essays are to be 600 – 1000 words.
LUKE Maneu of successfully operated a retail outlet in Buka Town from 2009 until 2011, when the Asian influx and affected his operations leading him to venture into other businesses including operating a PMV service and a guesthouse.
“Bougainville is such a small place that needs us, the indigenous people, to be in charge of development in terms of business and other economic activities,” Luke told me.
“The ABG and our MPs in the national government should be the ones pushing the laws and systems to create an environment conducive for the localisation of all cottage industries.
“With the Asian entry into Buka Town,” he added, “my business was harmed along with other businesses owned by fellow Bougainvilleans. Customers left us for the cheaper Asian goods.
“Our shops are said to be expensive because we do not have an entrepreneurial or business culture.
“Thus we are learners who need time and government input to make things right for our services to the Bougainvillean public,” Luke said.
“‘I am moving into other areas to save myself from succumbing to the Asian takeover. I am safe for the time being.”
To Bougainvillean businesses time is not with us. Soon we will see more Bougainvillean businesses leaving the scene because they cannot stand the might of all these Asian operations.’
After talking with Luke, I visited a few other Bougainvillean business houses – Wedelyne, JN Trading, TM Trading, Haput Clothing, Maia Clothing and Evokong. They all shared the same fear.
Asian operations are competing aggressively and taking over business activities they have been involved in.
“We heard that the ABG was inviting Asians to work in multi-million kina impact projects like the Torokina oil palm,” Chris Haput of Haput Clothing told me.
“But we were amazed to see them setting up tiny retail booths everywhere.
“From one or two booths they spread all over Buka Town, grabbing and renting large buildings from Buka people.”
Haput Clothing operates next to one of the many Asian BCM Trading retail outlets legally owned by a Siwai lady, Mary Lyn, who is a second wife of a Chinese named Lyn.
“Mary Lyn is our neighbour and best friend,” said Nathan Haliken of JN Trading. “She knows Asians wants to make money in Bougainville and, despite being the legal director, she has not much power over the BCM trading retail outlets spreading around Buka Town.”
Evokong and Maia Clothing, both originally from Kieta, have a business presence in Buka and Arawa and admitted their operations in Buka Town had shrunk in terms of daily takings in the face of cheaper goods offered by the Asian business operations.
Wedelyne, a local Buka business, were emulating Luke Maneu’s survival strategy and had ventured into PMV and taxi services and a retail outlet.
Many Bougainvillean businesses, whether owned by Buka islanders or Bougainville mainlanders, feel operating in Buka is not worth it and are starting to move to the mainland.
Here, Asians were invited but, if seen to be going off-track, they were kicked out.
At Toniva near Kieta, Asian businesses have already faced a first wave of attacks by locals and reports suggest there may be worse to follow.
Last weekend Asians in Buka Town, warned that certain businesses were targeted for attack by disgruntling locals, organised for police surveillance at BCM Trading.
The story around town is that the Buka Police has been penetrated by Asian tycoons.
Anti-Asian feeling is growing amongst Bougainvillean business houses and ordinary people in Buka. Time will tell us the next move.
Overall award for the book of the year, the inaugural winner of which was Leonard Fong Roka for his memoir, Brokenville, which brings a child’s eye view to the civil war on Bougainville. Pictured above in Buka where he is now working for the Bougainville Government.
DRUSILLA MODJESKA | The Australian
THE better part of a decade ago, Papua New Guinean writer Regis Tove Stella said what his country needed was writers, far more of them than there were, to claim, or reclaim, the role of ‘‘visionary’’ and witness.
He concluded his 2007 book, Imagining the Other, with an elegant argument that it was only when the writers and intellectuals served as ‘‘watchdogs’’ alert to the ‘‘bleak’’ political realities and spoke out against corruption and greed — ‘‘the rape of a country’’ — that change would begin where it mattered: in the minds and hearts of a people.
In 2007 in PNG, a time of little publishing and all too few writers, let alone readers, it seemed a frail hope.
But PNG’s people have always been great storytellers and debaters, and while there may not have been many novels published and read since independence in 1975, there have consistently been a few noble souls who have taken the role of witness and poet.
Oral storytelling remains a reality for many, the stories that are told folding recent histories into those handed down from past generations. And newspapers do a busy trade in markets across the country. You see them read, and being read to those who cannot read.
So maybe Regis Stella, who died in 2010, would not have been surprised had he lived to see publication of the fourth Crocodile Prize anthology, a celebration of PNG poetry, fiction, essays and heritage writing.
When I reviewed the second anthology, towards the end of 2012, I was celebratory, but also tentative — as were many of the writers.
Two years later, in this anthology with 66 writers represented — among them writers from previous years and a heartening number of new, young voices — much of this tentativeness has gone.
A new generation of Papua New Guineans is claiming the written as part of their storytelling, debating inheritance — theirs as surely as any technology that comes with a postcolonial modernity.
I write and write / Like my forefathers before me / My blood is the ink on my paper …
This, from Diddie Kinamun Jackson’s Crocodile Prize winning poem, As a writer, opens a meditation on Melanesian expression that would have pleased Regis Stella.
But for the most part the mood of this anthology is less meditative. Anger is a dominant emotion — anger and loss — which could hardly be otherwise for a generation living with high levels of urban dysfunction, violence and corruption.
There are tough stories to be told, and so we read short stories about children finding neighbouring children shot dead; a girl killing herself because she’s pregnant; a widow struggling to raise her children with no money for school fees; a girl in a green dress raped and dumped in a drain.
The Crocodile Prize-winning story, Agnes Maineke’s, While war raged in Bougainville there was a miracle at Haisi, is about a woman giving birth in a remote hut during the civil war on Bougainville.
Bloodlines and dynasties / Disrespected and destroyed / Love, respect and honour / Erased by the power of rifles
With these lines, another Bougainville writer, Marlene Dee Gray Potoura, begins her story of a little girl woken at dawn during that vicious war.
As men with guns surround the village she escapes the carnage that follows by running into the forest, the gun-toting ‘‘crawlers’’ in pursuit.
‘‘The whole forest was angry,’’ Potoura writes, and in a smooth movement she takes us from the stark realism of the guns to a forest in which trees think, feel and act in unison.
And so a ‘‘grandfather tree’’ uproots itself ‘‘in seconds known only to the secrets of the forest’’ and its ‘‘hard old trunk’’ falls on the crawlers and kills them.
As it falls, its branches lift the girl to safety. The tree as a talisman for the power of an endangered inheritance.
‘‘Your guardian trees,’’ writes Michael Dom, a previous poetry prize winner. ‘‘No more you flame.’’
Gary Juffa’s poem on the ‘‘supposed concern’’ and ‘‘pockets filled’’ that accompany the widespread and often illegal felling of the forests, ends each stanza with the refrain: ‘‘And the trees keep falling.’’
It is in the essays that the corruption and greed underlying the violence and the dispossession are named. Where the essays in the earlier anthologies hinted and gestured, here there’s a confidence, a refusal to collude or be silenced.
Blogger and social media activist Martyn Namorong writes of counter-corruption, of corrupting the corrupters.
Bernard Yegiora questions the voting system, the pork-barrelling, the ‘‘wari-vote’’ that can get a corrupt politician back into power when the voters want the handouts back.
‘‘The race within the race,’’ Bernard Witne calls it, as money outstrips policy, and everyone, in large ways and small, is out to ‘‘thicken their purse’’.
Is a Westminster system developed over centuries on the other side of the world the best model for a country of 800 languages and tribes? What would, or could, a Melanesian democracy look like?
And so the question is reopened, first raised in 1980, of whether there is, or can be, a ‘‘Melanesian Way’’ out of this mess.
What system of government would, or could, give back to its people the resource-rich wealth of opportunity? Is it neo-colonialism that rules, as Namarong suggests? He ends one of his essays with the hope that his colleague Nou Vada, who appeared in the earlier anthologies, will one day be prime minister.
‘‘The day a boy from Hanuabada becomes prime minister will be the end of colonisation,’’ he writes. Another frail hope?
There’s been many a local boy, though not from Hanuabada, who have taken the role. Some of them did it well, but were too often replaced by those who fill their pockets from the coffers of state.
On the other hand, if anyone doubts change is possible, contemplate Gary Juffa, who has 10 pieces in this anthology. His story of going on a picnic as a child with a saved packet of noodles, picking tomatoes and shallots in the gardens as the picnickers walked to the river, is one of the best in the collection.
The clouds come over and the group scrambles up the rocks to the road. They make it home to discover two children shot outside their father’s tradestore.
Juffa is now a member of the PNG parliament and, since 2012, governor of Oro Province that takes in Kokoda and its famous track. One of his first acts as governor of a once deeply corrupt province was to put a moratorium on all land deals, logging and resource extraction pending audit and review.
“‘The days of watching our resources be shipped out for whatever scraps have been throw at us is over,’’ he said.
His essays are tough and fearless, impressive by any standard and from a politician remarkable. From a politician in PNG, they could also be considered foolhardy. His first term in parliament showed him how reluctant his fellow members were to speak on national issues for fear of losing access to government funding needed to keep their electorates happy.
In Tribe Versus Nation: Observations on PNG’s Core Challenge, he writes of being warned ‘‘by a particular minister’’, and it indeed proved the case that when this year’s budget was handed down, he saw that he and his province had been well and truly ‘‘punished’’.
There are those who urge him to keep quiet, to think only of what he can do for Oro with the money silence buys, but he says he will not.
While tribalism ‘‘is necessary for the preservation of culture, language, [our] unique identities’’, the future of PNG — the ‘‘core challenge’’ if there is to be any possibility of a better way, a Melanesian way — depends on a leadership willing to renounce the power of playing tribe against tribe, and speak for the wider collective consciousness.
Even if it costs him the next election, he will continue to speak out, he says, because something has begun, ‘‘the stirrings of change’’ are afoot. ‘‘The concern is now a small seed, but it is growing and growing fast.’’
We can only hope he is right. Change will not come easily, and it will not come fast. At the time of writing Juffa, halfway through his, was facing a vote of no-confidence, orchestrated, according to media reports, by corporate interests.
ANOTHER sign of PNG’s literary stirrings is that this year there were two new categories in the Crocodile Prize. One was for children’s writing, sponsored by Buk bilong Pikinini, the children’s library organisation that is growing apace, bringing books and stories to children from impoverished urban settlements.
The other was an overall award for the book of the year, the inaugural winner of which was Leonard Fong Roka for his memoir, Brokenville, which brings a child’s eye view to the civil war on Bougainville.
The war, for him, began in class 2A at Arawa Community School. There was a commotion along his row of desks: the son of a policeman reported fighting in the mountains.
There had been rumours and strange behaviour among the adults, and this time even the teacher stopped to listen. The division was right there in that classroom, between the dark-skinned children of Bougainville and the ‘‘redskin’’ children of parents from the mainland.
At first it is clear enough for the young Roka. It’s us against them. Our island. Their government. Our land. Their mine.
The reality, of course, proves less clear cut for a boy whose father was a ‘‘redskin’’ from West New Britain and whose mother is from Bougainville. He has relatives on all sides. There are those who depend on the economy generated by the mine; there is his uncle, Joseph Kabui, a senior man in the militant interim government.
Over the next years, before he can return to school, Roka will learn a great deal about war and tribalism, the contradictions of a nation drawn from colonial borders, about moral ambiguity, about betrayal and possibility.
‘‘I owe much to [that] crisis,’’ he writes in his acknowledgments. ‘‘It made me who I am.’’
It is in such writing from Bougainville, perhaps not paradoxically, that the pulse of change ticks most strongly.
Drusilla Modjeska’s most recent novel is The Mountain. She is founder of not-for-profit SEAM Fund, which supports literacy in remote communities in PNG. www.seamfund.org
The Crocodile Prize Anthology 2014, edited by Phil Fitzpatrick, Pukpuk Publishing, 512 pp, $15 from Amazon
Brokenville by Leonard Fong Roka, Pukpuk Publishing, 239pp, $10 from Amazon
Help us produce more Bougainville writers by donating today toBookgainville
After a lot of voluntary and part-time preparations in the course of the year by some committed former students, the ex-Arawa High School reunion was hosted on Saturday night 25 October at Dynasty Restaurant, Vision City in Port Moresby.
It was a commendable effort by the Ex-Arawa High School Reunion Inc. through its students organizing committee. As this was the first attempt the committee should be pleased with the numbers that turned up and with the pledges for support for development projects for the school, now upgraded to Arawa Secondary High School.
Photo and text Secretary of the PBA Simon Pentanu
The old Arawa High School was not spared the torching and arson that decimated much of Arawa town which was one of the most modern towns in the country at the time. It is admirable that many of its former students want to give something back to the school as a way of saying thank you to the school and the teachers that prepared them for a life and future outside the classrooms.
In his opening remarks the Chairman of the organizing committee Mr Gordon Kevon spelled out that the primary objective of this inaugural reunion and for any future get-togethers and fund raising events is to raise funds for four projects that are the initiative of ex- students, to start with.
These are: 1) provide a 35kva generator set; 2) add a multi-purpose school hall; 3) additional teacher’s housing; 4) a new school administration block; 5) a computer room with proper attendant facilities.
Speaking at the Re-union, the President of the Port Moresby Bougainville Association Mr Paul Nerau said the objectives announced at the reunion and fund raising event may sound adventurous but the Committee and the ex-students have the right attitude.
Mr Nerau said nothing is impossible if we get our mind to things we want to achieve. The efforts starting at the first reunion are commendable. He encouraged all ex-students as well as others to contribute to a much greater cause which is the education for our future generation of Bougainvilleans. “What the former students of Arawa High School have done culminating in this successful event tonight should encouragement for ex-students of other high schools in Bougainville” said Mr Nerau.
For the record a list of corporate sponsors will be published to acknowledge and thank these sponsors for their generous support towards hosting the first reunion. Details of how and where future contributions can be made will also be published for the information of any ex-Arawa student anywhere in the country or overseas.
Speaking after the event the President, Mr Nerau and the Secretary of the PBA Simon Pentanu said the Association will cooperate in working with Ex-Arawa High Reunion towards its endeavors commenced at the reunion in Port Moresby.
The nature of most of this assistance will be to play a part in maintaining connectivity and interest with the major drives and initiative coming from the ex-students.
The Re-union organizing committee of Gordon Kevon (Chairman), John Becks (Deputy Chairman), and Committee members William Tondopan and John Lahis and deserve thanks and congratulations for the efforts and the fact that the Re-union has commenced and is a reality after 24 years.
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.”
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.
“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 SMStool.
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.
James Hall, the Australian High Commission’s Minister Counsellor with representatives from the PNG Assembly of Disabled Persons at their bi-annual conference held in Port Moresby.
On 1 October, the Australian High Commission opened applications for the prestigious Australia Awards scholarships. PNG’s next generation of leaders will have an opportunity to undertake tertiary study, research or professional development in Australia in 2016.
The Australia Awards team will conduct promotional roadshows across the country about the Awards. Visits will include provinces that have not been well represented in previous years including the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
The first Australia Awards information session was held on Friday 3 October at the regional PNG Assembly of Disabled Persons meeting in Port Moresby. Factsheets, information booklets and posters were provided to each representative to disseminate through their regional disability networks.
Australia’s Minister Counsellor for Development Cooperation, Mr James Hall said, “More than 2000 Papua New Guineans have participated in the Australia Awards program since 1996 and are making a significant contribution to the future of PNG. This year, women, people living with a disability, and people living and working in the provinces are particularly encouraged to apply.”
“I would urge you all to reach out to young Papua New Guineans, especially those living with a disability, and support them to pursue an opportunity of a lifetime by applying for an Award,” Mr Hall said.
The Australia Awards program is an initiative of the Australian Government. The Australia Awards aim to contribute to PNG’s long term development needs by awarding scholarships in areas that align with PNG’s development partnership with Australia including health, education and law and justice.
Scholarships are highly competitive with selection based on academic ability, leadership, employment record, the developmental benefit of the proposed field of study, and overall preparedness to study in Australia. Each year the Australian Government offers around 150 Australia Award scholarships. At least fifty percent of these will be awarded to women.
Applications close on 16 February 2015. The Australia Awards team will conduct promotional roadshows across the country about the Awards. Visits will include provinces that have not been well represented in previous years including Manus, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, East Sepik, Enga, West New Britain, Gulf, and Oro. Further information about the Australia Awards can be found at: www.australiaawards.org.pg
The Australia Awards PNG Information Centre is equipped with institutional handbooks and internet access to help potential applicants research courses. Staff are available to provide assistance with applications and to assist alumni to look for employment where they can apply their newly obtained skills. The centre is located in Port Tower, Hunter St, Port Moresby, and is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm.
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Jubilee, which claims to be a “scientific research body”, prepared the report jointly with two highly partisan organisations, the International State Crime Initiative and the Bismarck Ramu Group.
Kristian Lasslett, an Ulster-based Australian academic who is a constant purveyor of attacks on the Bougainville leadership, generally with little or no evidence, was heavily involved in the preparation and writing of the report.
In response to criticism of the report in the social media, Lasslett has defended himself and Jubilee notably in posts on the PNG Mine Watch blog (run by the Bismarck Ramu Group) and on Facebook’s Bougainville Forum.
Australians, Vicki Johns and Dantares Midway Jones (aka Andrew Jones) and Australian-based Bougainvillean, Clive Porabou, have all joined Lasslett in defending the report on the Bougainville Forum.
Jubilee and these others domiciled abroad will have us believe that they know more about Bougainville than anyone living on Bougainville and that they are privy to the personal views of the majority of Bougainvilleans today, including mine site landowners.
The spread of these dubious “research findings” in Australia can be likened to a new malady that is about to hit Canberra, the cure for which only the bearers of the ill tidings possess and can administer.
Jubilee is at the forefront and is in this for exposure and publicity, not for the benefit of Bougainville.
Every time these desktop researchers return to their own countries after a very brief foray into their own mystical Bougainville, they carry a hastily packaged fantasy that reveals the ‘undeniable truth’ about what the majority of Bougainvilleans think about Panguna.
Jubilee is in Australia. They believe that a brief visit by anti-mining Bougainville researchers to Panguna, armed with questions to which they already ‘know’ the answers, provides better credentials than they had as remote-controlled observers of Bougainville from afar.
After ticking off their questionnaires, the organisation can make a jubilant exit, highly satisfied that their “research” confirms what they always believed.
With a prejudice and orientation against anything and everybody engaged in, or supportive of, what they see as the sordid business of mining, organisations like this will always be predisposed to searching and commenting to satisfy and confirm their very own views, which they can then confidently sell to Canberra.
Kristian Lasslett works and schemes from Ulster in Northern Ireland (UK). On matters concerning Bougainville he is the self-made expert – chopping, pasting and moulding Bougainville like plasticine to be forced into his desired shape and form.
Like the operatives at Jubilee, he drives a metal car, flies in metal planes and eats, I assume, mainly with metal cutlery. He and the Jubilee operatives do not suffer from metal fatigue, despite their disdain for industries that extract useful minerals.
Kristian will swear by his comments and views, defend them and feed them to anyone who likes to lap up tales of deceit and conspiracy against Bougainville by mining giants and governments.
At best he is a socialist, born to save the world’s downtrodden. At worst he is a Trotskyite, peddling and romanticising his thoughts around Melanesia.
He is a smooth operator, armed with mind-boggling academic qualifications, but why should PNG and Bougainville take notice of him?
He does not add value to our attempts to resolve our issues on Bougainville island, or in PNG for that matter. His activities simply feed his own ambitions.
He tells us that he knows Bougainville from the 1960s, though his appearance indicates he was barely an adolescent at the time of the Bougainville crisis.
He arrived after the crisis, well after the peace process took hold, only to collect the crumbs when the smorgasbord was over. This is obvious in his comments about wanting to return to Bougainville’s past. Bougainvilleans be warned: this fellow cannot be trusted.
There’s little I can say about Vikki John. I believe she’s relatively harmless because I understand she rarely expresses her own views, assuming she has some. Apparently, her function is to cut, paste and disseminate any anti-mining material she comes across, in order to alert poor, ignorant Bougainvilleans to the dangers of doing further business with notoriously nasty mining companies.
I don’t know who DAntares Midway Jones (aka Andrew Jones) is, but I gather he has been searching for his ancestry/roots, as his interchanging name suggests.
He has suddenly splashed himself onto the Bougainville scene with grandiose ideas for the salvation of the island and its population. He believes he has a profound proposal to rid Bougainville of its muddled past.
He proposes a Peoples Tribunal with draft terms of reference comprising Bougainvilleans who will preside as judge, jury, prosecutor and terminator. He even has a Tribunal Facebook page.
He claims he has aboriginal ancestry. He dons a Fidel Castro type cap, is clad in khaki clothes with an Australian Aboriginal flag badge sewn on the breast and he sports a Fidel Castro beard. He is calm, cool and does not flinch at his critics.
I don’t know where he popped up from. He says he made a single visit to Bougainville, a lone trip that has convinced him that he knows Bougainville well enough to insert a Tribunal there to disable the culprits responsible for the island’s demise.
He has some strange ideas about what might be best for Bougainville. He impresses me as someone who has probably been wandering around admiring rock drawings in arid caves and sacred aboriginal sites and suddenly thinks he is sufficiently indigenous to transplant himself into another traditional society like Bougainville.
Clive Porabou is the next best thing to cheese, biscuits and shiraz. Just as these tasty and intoxicating items make party conversation flow freely, Clive’s presence and discussion with the likes of the people I have mentioned above make their adrenalin flow from both excitement and anger.
Clive lives abroad and, for those who have no personal experience on Bougainville, he is the Bougainville expatriate expert who satisfies the appetite of a certain mould of Australian academic, environmentalist, social psycho and welfare benefactor.
Always with an acoustic guitar in hand, he longs for the day when Bougainville might be governed by Me’ekamui, financed by Noah Musingku’s new Bougainville currency.
Hearing from Clive is enough to convince most non-Bougainvilleans that they have a duty to rescue Bougainville from bondage, and the government outfit to accomplish this is the version of Me’ekamui that Clive peddles abroad.
In truth, the Me’ekamui in central Bougainville have been consulting and beginning to work and cooperate with the Autonomous Bougainville Gobvernment (ABG), which was always bound to happen.
I can’t be too critical of Clive, because in his heart of hearts he will always remain a true Bougainvillean, but suspicious of his expat friends. It suits him fine if they are gullible enough to believe him, because as long as this unfortunate business lasts, he can continue to enjoy peace and a relatively convivial lifestyle offshore.
Take heart, the reason why most Bougainvilleans won’t whinge about, or flinch at, research that is carried out overnight from abroad is because it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.
If you were to enter the same Bougainville communities in the same locations and conduct your own research to extract a ‘yes to mining’ response, you would get it. It really depends on how the comments and questions are framed. The Jubilee research is simply a means to an end.
Jubilee, Kristian, Andrew Jones and all of these parties will always support such research and support each other. They are birds of a feather, flocking, scheming and screeching together. As some Bougainvilleans have commented in the Bougainville Facebook forum, this is all “bullshit”.
The ABG must make the Australian government aware that Jubilee is going to the Australian Parliament entirely of its own accord, without the knowledge, authority or respect of the ABG and most Bougainvilleans.
If we are not careful and if the ABG turns a blind eye, the confusion, disunity and anger these people can generate could pit Bougainvillean against Bougainvillean, community against community, clans and families against each other, and even the people against their leaders and government.
These are people coming into a society they really don’t know much about or understand. They are attempting to ride roughshod over the programs and projects the ABG and landowners have been involved in towards resolving every issue in Panguna.
There has been steady progress towards addressing many outstanding Panguna grievances that affect everyone, not just the sampling of villages Jubilee has selectively interviewed.
There are senior ministers in the Abbott government, like foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop, who always have an ear and heart for Bougainville. There is no reason why the president and senior bureaucrats who have the carriage of different aspects and areas of discussion over Panguna, e.g. Steve Burain, Raymond Masono and advisers like Dr Naihuwo Ahai, cannot approach Canberra and confront the Jubilee research.
This is how absurd it is: Jubilee operatives come to Bougainville, do their fact finding visit up the road, fold up all the work and turn up in Canberra unbeknownst to ABG and most of Bougainville.
They do not even have the courtesy to call on the authorities on Bougainville to explain or share what they have done. If this is not conspiracy against ABG, for reasons only known to themselves, then I don’t know what it is.
There is a real risk that foreign elements that have no responsibility or obligations on Bougainville and that are not accountable to anyone can derail fifteen years of peace process and reconciliation achieved without meddling from uninvited offbeat academics, latter day NGOs, busybodies and socialites that have nothing better to do in their own countries.
If they have nothing to contribute to their own governments and people, it is hard to accept the claim that their reconnaissance on Bougainville will enhance our future.
Station manager, Aloysius Laukai, now has 15 staff members working under him as the team seek to build awareness on the biggest issues affecting Bougainville.
Laukai and his reporters use WhatsApp and Viber, cross-platform mobile apps, to exchange information and file stories.
The apps allow reporters to send text, video, images and audio messages using their mobile data allowance.
“Before WhatsApp the audio was not quality,” Mr Laukai said.
“Normally we used telephone lines, which sometimes are very noisy.”
For radio interviews and sound grabs reporters use digital voice recorders and send the audio to the New Dawn FM studio in Buka, where they are edited and aired.
“Sending audio by email the files are too big,” Laukai continued.
“It would be impossible, but now we are using Viber to make calls using data.”
With Digicel coverage reaching an estimated 80-90% of the population New Dawn is able to rapidly disseminate news from throughout the region.
Laukai was also an earlier adopter of social media to increase the reach of New Dawn and awareness of news from Bougainville.
The New Dawn on Bougainville blog was launched in February 2009, not long after the station began broadcasting. The blog provides written versions of New Dawn’s top stories for the day and photographs.
In 2011 Aloysius joined Twitter and set up a Facebook page to reiterate this content across the spectrum of social media platforms.
In 2014 Aloysius also created Bougainville News
Due to infrastructural constraints the station’s FM broadcast coverage is currently limited to Buka and the northern tip of the mainland of Bougainville and so social media allows people with access to the cellular network to get regional news.
An upgrade to radio infrastructure, jointly funded by the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Bougainville Copper Foundation, is expected to be completed soon and will deliver FM signal throughout the region.