21 November 2013
Address by Australia’s High Commissioner to PNG, HE Ms Deborah Stokes at the official opening of new education facilities at the Hohola Youth Development Centre, Port Moresby
Wednesday, 20 November, 2013
It’s a great delight to be here among fine young Papua New Guineans and their dedicated teachers and staff.
When I visit schools I am always impressed by the enthusiasm and energy of PNG’s young women and men.
It reminds me that you are the future of Papua New Guinea.
Your futures are made in these classrooms.
Education is the single greatest investment we can make in your lives and in the prosperity of Papua New Guinea.
Young men and women who have an education are more likely to grow into healthier adults with more choices and more freedom.
They are more likely to educate their own children and pass down the benefits of learning through generations.
Up to a quarter of Papua New Guinean children do not, or cannot, have the opportunity to go to school.
I know the students here today have a deep drive to seize their second chance at education.
What can we do to help you?
Australia recognises that responsible and accountable leadership at all levels PNG society is critical to achieve lasting development.
The Incentive Fund supports organisations that are high performing because they have strong leadership.
We are opening these facilities today thanks to the strong leaders at the De La Salle Brothers and their staff.
You met the Incentive Fund’s stringent criteria against great competition.
You are among only 13 high performing education institutions sharing in 82 million kina from the current Incentive Fund.
It is the second time in 10 years you have accessed Incentive Fund support, showing the strength of your organisation.
Strong leaders have a clear understanding of where they need to take an organisation to improve it.
They take responsibility for problems and are involved with solutions.
The Hohola Youth Development Centre’s mission is to provide quality technical and vocational education to disadvantaged boys and girls.
Almost 100 of your 107 graduates last year have found work.
The new facilities mean more young women and men will graduate from the centre with job-ready skills for Papua New Guinea’s growing economy.
Strong leaders respect women because they know it is the right thing to do for their people and for PNG’s development.
They ensure the views and needs of women, disabled people and children are included when planning projects.
Internationally, investing in the education of girls has been shown to deliver immense economic and social benefits.
In my view, it is the single most important activity that any country can support.
Nations are unable to reach their full potential when half of their citizens are excluded from important leadership and economic opportunities.
I congratulate the Hohola Youth Development Centre for aiming to provide at least half of places to girls.
All countries in the world are on a journey to promote gender equality.
That journey differs from country to country.
As a close friend and partner of PNG, Australia is committed to helping PNG create the conditions that allow women and girls to have opportunities that are at least equal to those for men and boys in PNG.
Ending violence against women must be a part of any support for women’s equality.
This is in focus as we prepare for the 16 days of activism.
Strong men respect women, including by working side by side with mutual respect in the classroom and the workplace.
I encourage girls to keep entering the traditionally male-dominated trades through the training they receive here.
Education is one of the pillars of Australian aid to PNG.
We promote education in all its forms through our aid program in partnership with the Government of PNG.
Our aid partnership also works towards common goals in Health, Law and Justice and Transport Infrastructure.
Education remains the cornerstone of our close relationship. Papua New Guinea’s and Australia’s histories are intertwined as are our futures.
The Incentive Fund continues to make a major contribution to our relationship.
Since the year 2000 together we have built more than 350 million kina in infrastructure, creating an environment for better service delivery for Papua New Guineans.
In closing I wish to congratulate the De La Salle Brothers and the staff on your tremendous work here as mentors, teachers and administrators.
I am honoured to follow our Governor General, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce, and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in recognising your achievements.
And I wish all the students well, in the knowledge that these facilities will enhance your learning and skills that will give you opportunities for employment.