Photo: The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is the introduction to books prior to beginning school
The Oil Search Foundation in partnership with the Catholic Diocese, the Hela Provincial government and the NGO, Buk bilong Pikinini opened a new library today in Tari, Hela Province that will drive early childhood development through literacy.
The program will teach preschool children how to read, introduce them to the world of learning and increase their awareness of important health, hygiene and social issues that they can share with their families and communities.
In addition to basic literacy programs the library will enable children of all age groups to access much needed and high quality reading material. It will act as a centre to coordinate book donations to other local schools.
The Tari library is staffed with three local teachers and community educators who will implement Buk bilong Pikinini’s early childhood reading program as well as the afterschool literacy support program. These educators recently completed a four week training program in Port Moresby.
Head teacher, Leonie Angai, said that what she learned in the training will not only give children a head start with education but benefit the entire community through sharing information that helps them to be healthy and aware.
The opening of the library marks the launch of the first major project under the Oil Search Foundation’s new leadership and education program.
The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is the introduction to books prior to beginning school.
Peter Botten, chair of the Oil Search Foundation Board said that the focus of the new program was largely determined by communities who consistently highlighted improving literacy as a top priority.
This is backed up by international evidence that demonstrates literacy is the most basic foundation that contributes to well-being and prosperity later in life.
“We can support PNGs own development priorities by helping to ensure children and the population are literate at an early age.” Botten said. “When we focus on increasing the level of literacy we begin bridging existing gaps in other areas of equal importance, such as health and hygiene, women’s protection and empowerment, gender equality and build local capacity to make a difference within the community.
School principal Mr Gabriel Meria was elated that his school was selected as the first site in Hela and reiterated the school and community support to make the library a success.
The school meets a number of key requirements for establishing a program including children’s safety, a functioning school board, community and faith-based support, and the ability to access a number of elementary schools.
The Foundation together with Buk Bilong Pikinini and provincial government partners will help establish further libraries in Hela, Southern Highlands and Gulf provinces.
More than 3000 books, education materials and other learning equipment will be provided to each of these libraries as well as trained teacher-librarians from the communities.