By RICHARD KELEBI
Tente Primary School in Mendi, Southern Highlands now has a modern double classroom thanks to the support of PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd (PNGSDP) and also through their own efforts.
The school has been run by the United Church since 1985. Tente, a suburb of Mendi, suffered widespread arson during the civil unrest in 2002 with many public buildings destroyed.
The high school and primary school were destroyed as well. The United Church has since conducted the Primary School in bush materials buildings and with the return of peace sought to rebuild on the old school site. The bad experience of 2002 which had haunted the United Church Highlands Region run school has since past and a positive sign of home is emerging.
Last Friday (19th March 2010), the Tente double classroom project was officially opened by Mr. David Sode, Chief Executive Officer of PNGSDP.
The event was witnessed by delegates of PNGDSP, the United Church Assembly office, staff and proud students and parents of the school.
Mr. Sode said, the United Church is no stranger to PNGSD as they have both being partners in bringing developments to other parts of the country such as Western province, Bougainville, New Ireland and Milne Bay.
"We first received the proposal to support this project in 2008 with funding of K180, 000 and saw an opportunity to contribute to education in the region. We have heard the stories of the conflict that swept this land. In turning from hostility to peace we stand with you to choose education for our future generation as the way forward; to open the minds of students to seek innovative ways of addressing challenges whilst at the same time treasuring traditional ways that brought prosperity to the people."
"Education remains a prime focus for PNGSDP to make meaningful impacts in the lives of people in rural communities. On a wider scale, the objectives of the company is to support sustainable development through projects and initiatives that benefit the people of PNG and it particular the people of Western Province, during the period after the Ok Tedi Mine closure."
In 2008, the United Church Highlands Region approached PNGSDP to contribute to the construction of the one double classroom. PNGSDP approved a funding allocation of K180, 000 with the United Church contributing K30, 000.00 bringing the total cost of the project to K210, 000.00