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Santos Foundation, in partnership with the Pimaga Vocational Education Training (VET), will provide greater opportunities for young people from the local Kutubu area to re-enter the education system and upgrade their high school qualifications through a newly established Flexible Open Distance Education (FODE) centre.

The initiative forms part of a Santos Foundation commitment under the Youth Opportunities Program and ensures a focus on improving opportunities for young people close to their home locations.

FODE is now operational in Pimaga thanks to support from Digikesen Training & Consultancy with more work currently underway to strengthen and support teachers and young people in the local area to effectively utilise the services offered by the centre.

This year, 66 students commenced FODE courses. This includes 50 students in Grade 11 and 16 in Grade 10, significantly boosting potential graduation numbers for the Kutubu area.

In a significant milestone, textbooks for all enrolled students were successfully distributed, ensuring they have the necessary materials for their studies. This distribution has allowed the students to actively engage with the curriculum and will help them complete their assignments.

Santos Foundation’s Youth Opportunities Senior Program Manager Anthony Uechtritz said: “In a survey conducted 2019, the majority of young people surveyed told us that they wanted to remain in Kutubu. It is important we support them to do so for their development but also the development of their district.”

Mr Warubi, Principal at Pimaga VET said: “We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for the time and effort you (Santos Foundation and Digikesen) have put into this project within the Kutubu Local Level Government. This would not have been possible without your support, and we are committed to ensuring the success of FODE.”

FODE provides a vital educational opportunity for early school leavers in Papua New Guinea, especially those in remote and rural areas. This program, endorsed by the Department of Education, enables students to take on studies at the level they last completed and continue to Grade 12. Additionally, FODE offers a pathway for individuals to improve their grades for tertiary education entry. By addressing the challenges of distance, limited spaces in schools, teacher shortages, and financial constraints, FODE empowers learners to pursue their academic and professional aspirations.