Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Help With a Bridge

Grade 9 Students of Jubilee Catholic Secondary School 2012

On Sunday braving the gusty wind the parents of Grade Nine students at the Jubilee Catholic Secondary School gathered to hear the concerns raised by the Principal and the Deputy Principals. The parents sat on the terrace, which is an awkward space between the classrooms, to hear out the teachers’ concerns regarding the students’ general academic performance, lack of discipline, lateness, noise, enforcement of reading habits, and other related matters.

The parents were then directed into the four classrooms where their children take their lessons.  The parents introduced themselves. The class pastoral teachers were there to coordinate this part of the program.

The parents were then asked to nominate a chairperson, a deputy chairperson, and a treasurer. The committee that was appointed was immediately task to raise funds for the school next month towards the building of the school hall. The hall will gather for multiple activities of the school such as the school assembly, sports activities, graduation, and other academic related activities.

Here is a school with a need. It is working with its parents and guardians to raise funds to construct a multi-purpose hall for its students. Jubilee Catholic Secondary is not waiting for government handouts or cooperate sponsorship to assist the school in building a multipurpose hall, classrooms, and teacher’s houses.

It’s such a shame that the government and cooperate houses around it or next to it are giving their backs to this wonderful school with a very high reputation as a top school with high turn over in national selections every year. Do business houses have a cooperate responsibility towards the neighbourhod or surrounding communities? I wish. At least a bridge between the school, across the drain that separates the Jubilee Catholic Secondary School and the MVTIL and a host of business houses should have been built to allow the safe flow of students on their way to and from school every day.

Without a bridge the students have to descend into the drain to cross on rocks placed between the dirty water. It is a dangerous spot and has been a site of many conflicts between the students and opportunists who charged them to cross the drain when it floods. The drain itself has become a danger to the lives of the students. Students have experienced various kinds of assault and threat from unwanted elements operating in that spot. Many of the female students have had to endure assault from opportunists using the drain as a haven for criminal acts.

What parents cannot be affected by this threat and hazard to their children attending the school? The parents raised this concern with the school. The problems, as the parents found out, on raising this concern, was that the National Capital District authorities need to authorize permission for a bridge to be build and for financial assistance to go towards building this bridge. In every reasonable person’s view the NCD authorities, government agencies, and the business houses next to the school are neglecting their duties to the community where their business operate. It is not too much to ask for a small bridge to be built so that the school children of Jubilee Catholic Secondary, the public and uses of the medical centre on the same spot can use it without fear of intimidation, harrassment, or accidents. The danger possed to the school children and public using this drain without a bridge between the school and the business houses is that it raises legal concerns that cannot be ignored.

If parents and guardians are willing to raise funds to build a multi-purpose hall then what is a small bridge to them? It is a question that NCD authorities, the government agencies, and the corporate businesses operating in the precinct who need to answer as well. Do they promote values of responsible cooperate entities and agencies?  Do they have any obligations at all to the community?

 Mrs. Bernadette Ove, the intrepid principal of the school, was the first principal when the school began in early 2000s. She is still the solid pillar and leader of the school. She has worked very hard to see the school developed from what used to be the Hohola Clinic and WHO headquarters to what it is now: a top Catholic secondary school in the country. Mrs. Ove has led the school from nothing to something in the eyes of the nation, especially in the eyes of parents and guardians who had seen their children pass through the school over the years. Even those new parents and guardians with children who attend the school or will attend the school in future Mrs. Ove has proven to everyone that it is possible to build a school on the rocks of Hohola. It is possible to build a school on the rocky hills of Port Moresby without worrying about how it will develop.

The secret is: Prayer, faith, and spirit of the patron saint of the school. In prayer the needs of the school and its students are given to God. In faith the school is producing some of the best students in the country. In spirit of the patron saint the school is overcoming the challenges and short-comings of its short history, of being where it is, and what it can do with the geographical, economic, and political contraints it is presented with.

The school still uses the same old buildings for all its classes. It has no new classrooms even though the demand for enrolment every year had increased.  The school is creative in its use of space it has as was evident with the terrace between the two building blocks used as classrooms and offices.

During the National Book Week the school gathered in the open space under the sun to brave its heat and the gusty wind to complete the event. As the guest writer of that event I presented four of my books to the school.

The Jubilee Catholic Secondary School needs a stand-alone school library for its students.


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