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young children sitting on the floor in front of a teacher in a library classroom

Access to education remains a major challenge in some parts of Papua New Guinea, and Hela Province is no exception. In remote villages, schools are often far away and difficult to reach, but that does not stop a child’s passion and willingness to learn.

Situated in the Koroba- Kopiago district, serving 11 council wards, is the new Fugwa Literacy Library, an Early Childhood Learning Centre (ECE), which caters for children between the ages four to six years and teaches them how to sound letters (phonics), helps them with reading and writing skills, basic numeracy and shows them the art of speaking and listening confidently.

An ECE is important because it sets a strong foundation for a child to continue to learn and develop through their years of education. International evidence shows that a child who starts formal learning before the age of five performs better not only at school but throughout their entire lives.

Seeing the importance of this, Oil Search Foundation (OSF) with partners including Buk bilong Pikinini (Bbp), the Australian Government, Wesleyan Health Services and the Provincial Division of Education established this new learning centre.

Wendy Tom, a mother from Kerene Iba village said, “my daughter and I leave the village at 6am every morning to walk two hours to get to Fugwa for school. At times, I see that she is tired I tell her she can stay home, but she refuses. She says if she stays at home she will not know how to read and write.”

Seeing my child read brings joy to my heart.
- Wendy Tom Mother from Kerene Iba village

Peter Mark a local father from Teria village also said “My child has not only learning how to read and write but she has learnt good values and behaviours. At home she is teaching us how to practice good manners and is also teaching her other siblings how to write the letters of the alphabet.”

Leanne Resson, BbP Executive Officer said it was “heart-warming to witness how the community in Fugwa embraced the program. “The positive changes in the children’s learning and behaviour is very encouraging and shows the importance of early childhood education. BbP is grateful for the partnership with OSF which has allowed us to reach these communities.”  She said

Stephanie Copus- Campbell, OSF Executive Director adds “The emotional, social and physical development of young children has a direct effect on their overall development and on the adults they will become. That is why investing in very young children is so important, to maximize their future well-being” she said.