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Advancing skills, systems and infrastructure for communities to create economic opportunity

We invest in sustainable economic opportunities for communities to flourish.

By empowering individuals with the skills to succeed and building up the systems and structures a community needs, we aim to pave the way for greater individual and community prosperity.

Find out more about some of our recent programs:

Youth Opportunities

By investing in the education, training and career pathways for young people, our aim is to empower them to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to drive economic growth and innovation in their communities.

Youth Opportunities Program

In response to the pressing issue of limited education and employment opportunities faced by young people in Papua New Guinea, the Santos Foundation launched the Youth Opportunities program in Kutubu, Southern Highlands Province. Kutubu has a growing population but lacks accessible roads and educational facilities.

Through a comprehensive survey and consultation with 604 young individuals, the Foundation discovered their strong desire to stay in the local community despite the scarcity of livelihood options and educational prospects. To address this, the Foundation focused on expanding educational and employment opportunities through the establishment of the Pimaga Vocational Education and Training (VET) school, the only local institution offering vocational training in the area.

As part of this initiative, thirteen young graduates, including twelve young men and one young woman, who completed their electrician training at Pimaga VET, were identified as potential candidates for participation in labour mobility programs. Recognizing the potential of such programs to enhance employability and life skills, the Foundation collaborated with local company Peuna, which specialises in services for the oil and gas sector, to prepare these individuals for work opportunities in Australia through the Seasonal Worker Program.

The young participants received comprehensive training in life skills, financial literacy, adult literacy, work experience, and cultural adaptation to enhance their confidence and readiness for employment. By December 2022, eight of these young individuals were successfully mobilised to Australia, with the remaining participants scheduled to follow in 2023.

In addition, as a part of the Youth Opportunities Program, Santos Foundation has sponsored infrastructure improvements to Pimaga VET school to increase the capacity of the school to offer additional local training courses. A sago processing project has also been designed and is currently being scoped to increase livelihood options for young people who want to engage in expanding sago production in Kutubu.

Through these concerted endeavours, the Santos Foundation is working towards mitigating the challenges posed by the youth bulge and creating a pathway to a brighter future by empowering young individuals with valuable skills, education, and employment prospects.

Enhancing literacy development

The education system in Papua New Guinea uses English as its language of instruction. However, reading and writing ability in English remains a significant challenge for many children progressing through all levels of education.

To help improve literacy levels in elementary and primary schools, a strong foundation for learning must be set to empower children to be effective learners as they journey through the rest of their schooling years. In partnership with the respective provincial education departments and school boards, church partners, communities and other stakeholders, literacy libraries have been built in Tari and Fugwa in Hela Province, Pimaga in Southern Highlands Province and Kikori in Gulf Province to create safe spaces for children in their early years to develop a love for reading, and other positive values enabling them to develop holistically.

In the last year, the libraries enrolled 209 children and 151 children met school readiness assessment standards for starting elementary school the next academic year. All three libraries remained open and operating through the elections despite some local conflicts. This program was expanded in 2022 into Southern Highlands with a new literacy library constructed in Pimaga in Kutubu. This library opened in February for the 2023 school year.

Santos Foundation has partnered with a local NGO, Buk bilong Pikinini to provide training, mentoring and monitoring support to run the literacy libraries. These literacy libraries cater for students aged between 4-6 years. Since women’s literacy is also critical in supporting all aspects of child development including retention of children in schools, the literacy programs also provide opportunities for women to increase their literacy levels.