From destroyed classrooms to future dreams: how one school in PNG’s Highlands is rebuilding
- Glenda Aldor, one of the grade 8 students at Wabi School. "I was doing grade 8 when fight broke out. When it happened, I left everything and ran away with my parents. My books, pens, and everything was burnt down and destroyed and for two years, I was not able to go to school. This year I managed to come back and complete my studies and finally sat for my examination. Education is the only way of getting a better life.” In PNG, grade 3-8 is primary school, Grade 9-10 is high school and grade 11-12 is secondary.ICRC/ Reuben Tabel
- The lush mountainous landscape surrounding Wabi School in the Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea.ICRC/ Emily Contador-Kelsall
- Asapa Pasa, Pira 1 Councillor speaking to other community leaders, members and the ICRC team members during the distribution of stationery supplies at Wabi School. Asapa Pasa is from one of the council wards who were previously fighting.ICRC/ Emily Contador-Kelsall
- Patrick Hartwig, ICRC Southern Highlands Province Delegate, with Wabi School’s Head Teacher Kepson Pokia during the distribution of some basic school stationery kits for the students. Pens and notepads were among the donated items.ICRC/ Emily Contador-Kelsall
- Wabi School is rebuilding following the Wabi-Sumi tribal fight. We are supporting the communities who attend the school in their rehabilitation of its classrooms and facilities. Here, our Highlands team are unloading boxes of stationery supplies for students.ICRC/ Emily Contador-Kelsall
- The ICRC team from our Mount Hagen Sub-Delegation speak with Head Teacher Kepson Pokia amongst the stationery supplies for students of Wabi Primary School.ICRC/ Samuel Bariasi
- Head Teacher Kepson Pokia showing us into a classroom at the school. New desks that were donated by the ICRC fill the classroom.ICRC/ Emily Contador-Kelsall
- Teacher Robert Tawe sits behind Pira 1 Councillor Asapa Pasa in a classroom at Wabi Primary School.ICRC/ Emily Contador-Kelsall
- Classrooms stripped bare. Inside a classroom that was looted during the fighting. Using concrete donated by the ICRC and gravel gathered by the community, the floors of this classroom will be repaired so students can attend classes here once again.ICRC/ Emily Contador-Kelsall
- The striking weather and landscape surrounding Wabi School. These piles of gravel have been gathered by the community as part of the rebuilding effort.ICRC/ Emily Contador-Kelsall
- Desks donated by the ICRC to Wabi Primary School being unloaded.ICRC/ Reuben Tabel
"My books, pens, and everything was burnt down and destroyed and for two years, I was not able to go to school," says Glenda Aldor, 8th grade student at Wabi Primary School.
Wabi School in Papua New Guinea's Highlands was shaken by a tribal fight that broke out in late 2019 and the school had to close for years.
Fighting across the Highlands impacts students' access to education. Sometimes schools are destroyed in fights, sometimes it's too dangerous to make the journey to school and students can't attend.
Now the school has become a place of peace following long negotiations and peace talks between the fighting communities, aided by neighbouring neutral communities who pushed for peace.
In November 2022, community leaders discussed a path forward at the school grounds - between piles of materials the community brought to the school, water tanks installed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other classrooms waiting for repair.
The ICRC works in the Highlands to support access to education. We have been working with Wabi School, supporting the rehabilitation of the school through supplying materials for rebuilding, desks, blackboards, sports items and stationery for students.