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$7.7 million to set up ‘Fellowship Scheme’

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, September 28, 2009) – The Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare will be launching a K20 million [US$7.7 million] seed funding for the Independence Fellowship Scheme (IFS) tomorrow at the Crowne Plaza.

The IFS formerly known as the ‘Somare Fellowship’ aims to assist rural people with technical skills and training to assist them to generate their own income in the rural setting and improve their way of living. Sir Michael will also be announcing 500 scholarship winners who will take part in the IFS scholarship next year.

The K20 million seed funding will be for rural based projects, Lee Pokarop, the managing director of Cutting Edge Ltd said at the press conference last Friday.

Mr. Pokarop, who is a consultant to the program said the Independence Fellowship Scheme (IFS)is a development assistance program that had existed for some time but not many

Papua New Guineans were aware of it. He said the IFS was established by the National Executive Council under Section 5 of the Independence Fellowship Trust Act of Chapter 1040 of 1978.

Director of the program Micah Vele said the purpose of IFS was to provide technical skills based and project management training to rural based Papua New Guineans.

"This is with the view of empowering key individuals who can have a positive developmental impact on their wider rural communities. The IFS seeks to increase participation inthe economy by promoting entrepreneurship at the rural level," he said.

Mr. Vele said since its inception, the IFS has given 2100 rural Papua New Guineans the opportunity to get skills training and structural and technical support to start and improve rural projects. In 2010, 500 more rural Papua New Guineans will be given the same opportunity, he said.

The IFS has three core functions. The first is in training, then inspection and evaluation of monitoring of projects in the past 10 years and to administer funding from the government. Since the inception of the IFS its partner technical and academic institutions have been technical, fisheries, agriculture and forestry training institutions. Training courses are in basic agriculture for example, piggery, poultry, rice farming, vanilla farming, sewing, tank making, ministerial and theological studies, basic motor mechanic, basic accounting and business management.

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