By Dr Shelby Higgs

Paladin’s community engagement team recently had the pleasure of attending the handover ceremony of a new classroom in Manus Province. It was lovely to see the community come out in full force to support the opening.

This new classroom has been made possible by a partnership between Paladin Group and Kingfisher Security and is one of four new fully-equipped classrooms for schools in remote areas of Manus – in Tingou, MBuani, Nuwok and Loamat (Rambutyo Island).

Kingfisher is constructing the prefabricated classrooms to ensure they are easy to transport and set up in remote locations, while Paladin Group managed the procurement and provision of the school furniture for the classrooms including 160 tables, 320 chairs, 12 teacher desks and eight whiteboards and chalkboards.

We recently undertook research which identified overcrowding and insufficient classrooms to distinguish levels of learning as factors impacting both access and participation to education in Manus. (Full report on this research is forthcoming.) These new classrooms will help to address these issues and provide children with opportunities to enrich themselves and their communities.

This initiative is supported by Manus Provincial Governor Charlie Benjamin and is in keeping with his commitment to improve health and education services across the province.

Empirically based, community-led, sustainable solutions are integral to Paladin’s community engagement programs. Our efforts are focused on working with the communities we serve to build, operate, and transfer skills and knowledge in order to leave an enduring legacy. We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Kingfisher on this project, which will directly benefit the families of over 800 Paladin employees and partners on Manus.

Dr Shelby Higgs is Paladin’s PNG Services Contract Manager and an international development specialist