LONG WALK TO SCHOOL IN REMOTE PNG DISTRICT

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Kids trek five kilometers each way

By Grace Tiden PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 29, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea, school children in the remote Avungi Ward in the Inland Baining Local Level Government area of the Gazelle District in East New Britain Province have to walk five kilometers a day to get to school.

After classes, there is another tiring five kilometers to get back home. There is no elementary or primary school in that area as well as lack of medical assistance and other vital services. The nearest area where they can get these services is Gaulim. Avungi ward is located along the proposed New Britain Highway and is one of the most remote places in the province. But the road leading to the area can only be used by four-wheel drive vehicles.

Stalin Vevo, a settler in the area, said women often wake up around 4 and 5am to prepare their children for school.

The students in both elementary and primary schools leave their homes around 6am so they can get to school at around 8am. However most days, they arrive at school after 8am. Mr. Vevo also said the aid post in the area had run out of medical supplies for some time and there was no medical staff. "Sick people have to go to the Gaulim Heath Centre which is the nearest but quite a walking distance. For those who are very sick, they are carried to the health centre using stretches or wheel barrows," he said.

However Avungi Ward together with other wards in the area is the main suppliers of the Kokopo market.

The women are transported by a truck to the market every day to sell their garden produce.

Mr. Vevo called on the Government to provide basic services such as schools and health services.

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