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The people of Pimaga, in Kutubu, Southern Highlands Province, were the proud recipients of a brand-new literacy library presented by Santos through the Santos-funded Foundation last week, signifying Santos’ strong commitment to its project impact communities.

At the official opening ceremony at Pimaga on 8 June, over 2000 people gathered at the Kawama Foursquare church ground to celebrate what was described as the first of its kind learning facility established in the community.

Santos Vice President PNG Operations, Sigurdur Jonsson, in his address at the official opening ceremony, commended efforts by all parties who contributed towards the successful completion and finally unveiling of an important resource for the community and especially for the children who are the future leaders of Pimaga.

“Having a quality early childhood education allows children to be able to access opportunities that will lead them to better lives for themselves and their families and develop a lifelong passion for learning,” Mr Jonsson said.

“I am excited to see here today, partners from the government, churches, and the community. Through partnerships, we can effectively leverage resources for greater good and effective service delivery.”

He thanked the Foursquare church and the local landowners for donating the land to build the facility.

Foursquare Church Education Secretary, Steven Aparo applauded Santos for helping to lay a solid foundation for the Kutubu children.

He said the church has a partnership arrangement with schools around the country where they work with the government, non-government organisations (NGOs), and companies to support quality education through a holistic approach.

Meanwhile, First Assistant Secretary of the Education Department, Sam Lora, also commended Santos for contributing towards developing education in the community, emphasising the importance of introducing literacy, especially at an early stage.

Since the literacy library opened its doors early this year, the early childhood learning centre has enrolled 60 children, consisting of 33 boys and 27 girls. The school has benefited the surrounding communities of Kawama, Daga, and Orokana.

The children are taught to read and write, to do simple arithmetic and to learn through and enjoy reading.

The Pimaga Literacy Library was implemented through a partnership with Buk bilong Pikinini (BbP), which is a local NGO that provides teacher induction as well as ongoing in-library training support. Apart from supplying 3000 books, numeracy and literacy toolkits, and ongoing teacher and librarian mentoring, BbP also manages salaries of the teacher librarians through a partnership agreement with the Foundation.

The land was donated by the local Foursquare church, and the classroom was funded by the Foundation. A local landowner company, Mananda Investment Corporation (MIC), was contracted to build the facility at a cost of approximately PGK 690,000.

The Pimaga Literacy Library initiative is in line with the latest reform in the national education system, which has taken on and prioritised early childhood education as the way forward to build strong education foundations for children in PNG.

The Foundation commenced its literacy library programme in 2016 and has since established four literacy libraries. Two of these are in Hela, one in Kikori, Gulf Province, and now Pimaga in Southern Highlands is the fourth facility.

There are plans to establish a new literacy library in the Moran area, starting with a scoping and needs assessment activity that will commence in July 2023.

Image: Group photo of children and teachers at Pimaga Literacy Library and representatives from Santos, Kutubu District and LLG, Four Square church and Buk bilong Pikinini.