AUSTRALIA’S foreign affairs minister senator Penny Wong has encouraged the students of Sogeri National School of Excellence (SNSE) to guard their education and work towards the development of the country.
The SNSE is one of the 12 schools in Papua New Guinea under PNGAust Partnership Secondary Schools (PASS) which is a joint initiative of the two governments aimed at strengthening leadership and educational outcomes through institutional and people-to-people links.
Wong told the students about what her father always said to her that; “they can take everything away from you but not your education”.
She said: “Your education was about you, your resilience and despite challenges, it would stay with you.”
Wong said one of the important things that was discussed at Sogeri was the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) education.
She said the future would rely on the grounding of Stem so it was important that the Australian government supported PNG Government and its schools in this area.
“I had a really wonderful opportunity to engage with the students and teachers and I thank the school community for welcoming me and showing me such great respect,” she said.
“We see our partnership with PNG as of great importance to Australia, to our region but most importantly to the people of PNG.
“Coming into Port Moresby, I was reading the speech of Gough Whitlam, who was Prime Minister of (Australia) when PNG achieved independence.
“It’s a speech that talked about partnership between equals, partnership of respect, a partnership of friendship and that is through almost 50 and we are all custodians of that relationship.
“I was very grateful to have the opportunity to speak to the next generation of Papua New Guinean leaders, the wonderful students today here at the school.”
Wong said Australian government had made its partnership with the Pacific which included PNG a priority.
“What we want is to work with you to achieve what you want – what your country want,” she said.
“I don’t see the aid programme as just about giving but about shared partnership and relationship.
“Australia will work with you so that you can achieve your goals personally and as a country.
“The journey to economic strength, economic independence, safety and security is not an easy journey.
“It’s a journey that requires courage and determination and I hope Australia can walk with PNG.”
The National / PNG Health Watch
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