Sowing scholarship seeds to grow education
for young women in Papua New Guinea
When 19-year-old Velian was growing up as a little girl in her remote village in New Ireland province, the idea that she would one day complete a tertiary education seemed like an unattainable dream.
Today when we meet her, she is taking a break from studying for her third-year exams at the Pacific Adventist University, where she soon hopes to graduate as a fully qualified teacher of Science and Mathematics.
But to get to this point Velian has had to overcome many challenges on the long journey from her remote village to University in Port Moresby. Along the way she has been supported by a scholarship from Newmont, which has been critical in helping her pursue her dream.
Velian explains, “My parents are both subsistence farmers, and the money they earn from selling crops helps pay for my school fees. Being under the scholarship is a privilege because it's lifted the burden of worry, allowing me to focus more on my studies.”
Velian says attending the Pacific Adventist University has been a lifelong goal. She aspires to complete her studies and become a secondary school teacher because it has not been an easy road for her.
“I’m looking forward to teach and serve, whether it is in a remote or urban area.” she adds.
This ambition is fueled by the challenges she faced as a young student where sometimes there wasn’t a teacher in the classroom or enough learning materials.
“We walked two hours to school in the morning, sometimes to find our teacher is not there, then we have to go back again,” she says.
Velian is enjoying the courses she’s taking because it’s teaching her to be more creative and developing her self-esteem.
“I’m going to be a teacher and I have to be creative and confident to influence my students. This course has made me more talkative than before,” she expresses with a smile.
Life at university in the city is a contrast to her simple village upbringing, but it has been interesting and kept her busy. Besides, her studies she spends time between the school choir and drama teams.
Velian is relishing the resources and support she’s receiving at the Pacific Adventist University in Port Moresby,
building her skills and self-esteem.
Photo: Rachel Tarsan / Save the Children.
Being under the scholarship has given Velian the opportunity to complete her education and she is very thankful. She has inspired young girls in her village who always ask about school and how they can make it there themselves.
“When I go home the young girls and my friends ask about school and what it’s like out there, which I sometimes feel shy to talk about,” Velian shares.
Overcoming her reserve, she says she has spoken with young girls in her church youth group, village and district, encouraging them to continue their education, and explaining how the scholarship and support from Newcrest is helping her.
Newmont’s support is playing an important role in helping to deliver the Boosting Education Standards Together (BEST) PNG Female Teachers Education Scholarship Scheme, part of a partnership between Save the Children, PNG’s National Department of Education and the Global Partnership for Education.
The ripple effect of increasing the number of female mathematics and science teachers promises far-reaching benefits in PNG. Not only is it directly enhancing the learning opportunities for the scholarship recipients, but also in retaining female students within the educational system.
Moreover, the resulting presence of female educators will play a pivotal role in inspiring aspiring young female students, encouraging them to pursue careers and advanced studies in these important fields where women are currently under-represented.
If Velian’s inspirational journey from her remote village in New Ireland to university in Port Moresby is anything to go by, we can be optimistic about the future of women’s education in Papua New Guinea.
The BEST project is funded by the Global Partnership for Education and Newmont and is implemented by Save the Children and PNG’s National Department of Education.