17th April 2013 Kokoda (Papua New Guinea)– The Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF) is progressing with its ambitious project to build a college in the jungle of Papua New Guinea. KTF’s CEO, Dr Genevieve Nelson, visited the site in Kou Kou village just outside Kokoda with volunteer engineer Morgan Sheehy from Partrigde this weekend.
Nelson said: “It is an ambitious project indeed. KTF has been operating in PNG for over ten years and we’re in constant dialogue with the local communities and PNG government departments about the most pressing needs of our region. 18 months ago we began making preparations to build the Kokoda College – a state of the art training facility that will train elementary and primary teachers and community health workers. To have Morgan visit the land was truly invaluable and we are now working together to ensure that we are ready .”
KTF started work on the Kokoda College early last year after thorough research showed PNG’s current education and health systems are not producing enough teachers and community health workers. Currently some 500,000 children are not going to school because of the lack of teachers. A similar situation exists in health and many aid posts and health centres across the nation are closed due to the lack of health professionals. There are currently about 10 Nursing Schools in PNG which are able to graduate about 300 community health workers each year. For a population of seven million people, that’s simply not enough.
“We are currently in the final stages of land registration, after which we’ll commence the actual construction of the college. The college will be built in a remote and rural area, and so you can imagine that there are a few hurdles to overcome. We are however aiming to open the College’s doors at the end of 2014.” Nelson concluded.
The learning programs for both the School of Education and Health are being developed by steering committees. Committee members are education and health professionals with extensive experience in both PNG and Australia.
The Kokoda College will be able to graduate 100 elementary teachers, 30 primary teachers and 30 community health workers each year. That is enough teachers and community health workers to satisfy the need of the whole Kokoda Catchment area in the first three years of operation. The College will then open its doors to students from other regions in PNG.