Bougainville girls develop science knowledge through partnership

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In an increasingly technology-driven and interconnected world, science and mathematics skills are priorities. This is especially relevant for girls and young women seeking to increase their representation and leadership in technical fields such as engineering and IT.

One such young leader is Sebastina Maloat, a student at St Mary’s Asitavi Secondary High School in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Sebastina is taking part in the PNGAus Partnership Secondary Schools initiative, alongside three other female students and three teachers from St Mary’s.  This new initiative partners 12 of Papua New Guinea’s highest performing schools with 12 Australian schools to boost learning outcomes, school project collaboration and people-to-people links.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is one of the initiative’s priority areas, alongside English language, youth empowerment and inclusive education.  Since mid-2019, St Mary’s Asitavi Secondary School has been sharing learning experiences with its partner school Rockhampton Girls Grammar in Queensland, Australia, including during reciprocal visits to Australia and PNG.

Sebastina says the opportunity to develop her STEM knowledge and skills and work with students from PNG and Australia have been highlights.

‘I’ve really enjoyed sharing my experiences with my fellow students from Australia about our school, our culture and our learning both inside and outside of the classroom,’ Sebastina says.

Fellow St Mary’s student Marcellyne Namira explains that she and her female classmates were excited to be able to share their experiences and learn new things with their PNG and Australian counterparts, even more so in a new setting.

The girls’ teachers are also working to ensure that the STEM lessons the selected participants learn are shared with their classmates and communities in Bougainville.

‘I feel happy and I am very grateful as a Science teacher to take part in this initiative. I believe this initiative will help develop and strengthen my teaching capacity in the field of Science,’ St Mary’s Science teacher Juliana Kimit says.

Another participating St Mary’s teacher, Herman Saet, agrees that the PNGAus Partnership Secondary Schools will benefit many in STEM and beyond.

‘I earnestly want to learn as much as I can, as whatever I can learn will be of critical importance for personal development and STEM education for Papua New Guinean students in the ever-advancing digital and industrial age’, Mr Saet said.

In its initial phase, PNGAus Partnership Secondary Schools is targeting students in years 9 and 11, STEM teachers and female school leaders and will directly reach over 2,400 students.

Feature Pic: Sebastina Maloat from St Mary’s Asitavi Secondary High School in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville trying out a virtual reality headset.

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