Christine Leonard, Centre administrator and facilitator travels to Bougainville frequently as part of a World Bank funded Project, Inclusive Development in Post-Conflict Bougainville. On her most recent trip she visited Haku High School.

Background

Haku Constituency is situated on the western side of Buka Island in north Bougainville.  It has a population of 15,000 – 20,000 with approximately 60 per cent of the population under the age of 30.  Since the Bougainville Crisis which lasted ten years Haku is experiencing the highest population growth in the region with 42 – 47 births a month.  The education demand facing the Autonomous Bougainville Government, especially in the post-Crisis era is a growing challenge. 

The Havini clan of Haku belongs to the Naboin tribe, the senior of the four tribes on Buka Island.  In 2000, Haku teachers, academics, land owners, chiefs, staff from the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Department of Education came together to discuss key issues affecting the Haku communities and its young people.  From that meeting it was agreed that urgent priority should be given to developing a high school.  A committee was formed to facilitate ongoing consultations with the Department of Education and following a further one to two years approval from the PNG Government in Waigani (Port Moresby) was granted to establish the Haku High School. 

In PNG, community schools cover elementary years, primary is years three to eight, high school covers grades nine and 10 and secondary being years 11and 12.  There are 11 high schools and three secondary schools on Bougainville. 

A survey of additional land owned by the Havini Clan adjacent to an existing community school saw 28 hectares donated in September 2010 for the school to be build.  A recent PNG Government policy introducing free education has seen an already pressured education sector grapple with an even greater challenge.  The average annual school fee in PNG high schools is (Kina) K600 – K700.  As a result of the national government’s new initiative, parents in Haku only have to contribute approximately K108 per annum. 

The School

"The Haku High School which completed its first temporary classroom in 2011 was designed for a maximum of 160 students.  It now caters for over 200 students.  The average class size is 50 plus.

"Great friends of mine, Moses and Marilyn Havini shared with me their need for books or any literary material for the new high school.  With the support of Eagle Hardware in Buka, we- along with family and friends- arranged for a small shipment of books to be sent up to the school. 

"During my trip to Bougainville in April, the Havinis took me along to the school to deliver the books.  I apologised to Sister Elizabeth Rokope, the new Principal that some of the books included out of date encyclopedias.  Sister Elizabeth who had been in the job for one week shook her head and laughed.  'We ask our students to bring old Post Couriers (PNG newspaper) to class.  We are starting with nothing.  The students will really appreciate these books.'", said Christine.

If you have any books you want to donate to Haku High School, please email Christine at c.leonard@uq.edu.au

Some of these photos show additional classrooms which were completed in April 2012.

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