08 August 2013
Speech by Australia’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea
HE Ms Deborah Stokes
Bavaroko Primary School, National Capital District
8 August 2013
Head Teacher Mrs Cathrine Moresi
School Board Chairman Turi Minimoa
Librarian Marie Charlie
Thank you for welcoming us to Bavaroko Primary School to share in your National Book Week celebrations.
The Australian High Commission has enjoyed a productive and warm relationship over the past year with the board, staff and students of Bavaroko Primary School.
My predessor, Ian Kemish, was here in September last year for the Clean Up the World event, and your school worked impressively well with the Australian High Commission to make it a success.
And I can see how well you are looking after the school grounds.
We also welcomed many of your students to the Australian High Commission in October to celebrate universal children’s day. We were pleased to present all your visiting students with a reading book each.
From that time we also committed to assist the resourcing of your school library. And that is what brings me here today.
As one of Port Moresby’s oldest Primary Schools, Bavaroko has been instilling in children a love of reading for many decades.
It’s therefore appropriate that we are here to celebrate National Book Week with you – an event that has been observed in Papua New Guinea for over 20 years.
The theme this year is: “Learn to Read, Read to Learn”.
‘Learning to read and reading to learn’ is important to help function successfully in school, on the job, and in society. When we read, we learn about the world around us, to better understand our existence, others and the universe we live in.
Reading can also be a fun and imaginative activity, opening doors to all kinds of new worlds. We can explore these new worlds if we can read and write.
The students here today are the fortunate ones, with your committed teachers teaching you to read. Because Papua New Guinea’s literacy rate – the percentage of people with the ability to read and write – continues to be one of the country’s biggest development hurdles.
PNG’s literacy rate was 56% in 2000 and more recent research in 2011 confirmed that the real literacy rate is probably much lower than that.
National Book Week highlights the significance of books and the necessity for us to encourage reading in schools. To encourage children to read and to improve literacy rates, we need to be able to have access to books and reading facilities.
Australia’s strong commitment to supporting education in PNG includes:
- buying and delivering to schools up to four million free textbooks by 2015-16.
- Australia is also the fourth largest donor of the Global Partnership for Education which is providing reading materials to help set up classroom libraries in all elementary and primary schools across PNG. This is being provided through the READ PNG program, which is the first proposal in the Pacific to get funding approval from GPE.
- Australia also supports early childhood reading through funding to Buk Bilong Pikinini – an independent non-government organisation that brings books to children through the creation of small libraries in community-based localities.
Today we are happy to take this opportunity to contribute to encouraging students to read more by highlighting the significance of books and by presenting you with a range of books including novels, short stories, dictionaries, encyclopaedias and much more.
We hope that these books, selected by your Head Teacher Mrs Cathrine Moresi with the assistance of the School Librarian, will meaningfully contribute and touch each and every child’s learning and success here at Bavaroko Primary School.