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St Peters Literacy School, on the northern fringes of Port Moresby, offers free literacy and numeracy programs for 120 children, attracting boys and girls from the city’s rubbish dump settlements who can’t access or afford a place in the public school system.

February 12, 2012

Aussie-funded school helps kids from PNG dump

An Australian-funded school in Papua New Guinea is helping to get children out of the urban waste dumps and into the classroom.

St Peters Literacy School, on the northern fringes of Port Moresby, offers free literacy and numeracy programs for 120 children, attracting boys and girls from the city’s rubbish dump settlements who can’t access or afford a place in the public school system.

Hundreds of children and their families live and work at the dumpsites around Port Moresby. Conditions are dirty and dangerous. Children experience serious health problems, as well as missing out on an education.

Peter Laiam and his wife Matilda – themselves former residents of Baruni waste dump – established St Peters Literacy School to teach children from the dumpsites to read, write and count. Last year, 22 children graduated from the program and obtained a place at a regular public school for the first time in their lives.

ChildFund Australia is working in partnership with Gold Coast-based company Pro-Ma Systems to support the school, which has just completed one full year of operation. Unlike regular primary schools, St Peters Literacy School provides free education, uniforms, books and meals, and overnight accommodation for children who have nowhere else to sleep during the week.

“The school provides an important entry point to education for children who would otherwise spend their days scavenging for scrap metal and discarded food in the waste dumps where they live, says ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence. “Without a chance at basic education, the health, safety and future prospects of these children are at risk.

“However, there is an urgent need to improve the conditions at the school and ensure the children are getting nutritious meals and medical care. ChildFund is currently raising funds to build a new dormitory at the school, establish a piggery, chicken house and vegetable garden, and provide vaccinations and regular health check-ups for the children.

To make a donation and support children from the PNG dumps, visit www.childfund.org.au