Class 6 Fundraiser for schools in West New Britain, PNG

Our Class 6 students have been inspired by a story of need from a past teacher of Chrysalis, Nerrida Johnson, who is now a principal of a school in West New Britain PNG. Nerrida wrote a letter to the class outlining the challenges faced by students in West New Britain, including schools with no furniture or learning resources, and in some cases no classrooms. Class 6 were looking for a viable and doable fundraiser to do this year, and this fit perfectly into what the students wanted to do. The class discussed possible options of what they could do as a class and also what the students could do individually. As a class they are walking 5 times around our oval for $1- with the students finding people to donate to them at the end. Individually, some of the ideas were busking, cooking cakes for a market and helping around the house. The class will be putting together a care package of stationary that Nerrida will bring to the surrounding schools. As you can see from the photos, the schools have no resources. Kelley, our Class 6 teacher, has spoken to our librarian and Learning Support Coordinator for books to send their way as well. It is amazing how excited and enthusiastic the students have been this term. They are looking forward to putting a box of stationary together by the end of term to send over to Nerrida and the schools.

If you want to support this Nerrida has put a GOFUNDME page called The Simple Things – Stationary for Students. If you want to support this cause please donate money so the schools can get resources for the students.

A word from Nerrida

Making a Difference in Papua New Guinea

In June this year I left my job as Principal of Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School to take up a position as Principal of a school in remote West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea. I was inspired to do this after hearing Nana Gobel speak a few years ago at the 2017 SEA National Teachers’ Conference. Nana spoke strongly about Steiner education being for all children. I am very fortunate in that I have complete freedom at my new school to implement curriculum and teaching practice as I would like…. so I am working with my teaching team here to introduce them to some of the basics of Steiner education.

The children at my school are very fortunate we are relatively well resourced by New Guinea standards. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the students in most of the other schools here. The schools are almost all in a dreadful state of repair with no desks or chairs, no books and no stationary. The teachers often write on the bare walls of the building with chalk. Teachers in elementary schools often don’t get paid and so it is common for them to just not turn up at school.

Since I arrived here, I have started a GoFund Me campaign to raise money to purchase stationary to bring to these schools. My plan is to visit the schools with my team of teachers each term and provide the teachers with some professional development (and simply a chance to mix with their colleagues as many teach in isolation) and to bring them more resources. 

Last weekend I took a team of my teachers out to a little school at Kaiamui. Just getting to the school involved an almost two hour long drive (in 4 wheel drive mode) across very rough tracks, through an old lava field and across two rivers. I had visited the school a week before (to donate some furniture) and was shocked at it’s terrible state. The children from the local villages had been sent home in March because of the Covid-19 outbreak and had simply not returned.  

On Saturday we went out to the school and completely renovated it – replacing wall boards, painting every room, scrubbing the floors, painting blackboards and removing rubbish. At the end of the day I was able to donate a big box of exercise books and pencils. Today the children are back in school for the first time since March.

The children at Chrysalis Steiner School in NSW are currently working hard to raise money to assist in my efforts to improve educational opportunities in Papua New Guinea. Their efforts to help out are so much appreciated and every cent they raise will go towards providing more books and stationery for students here. 

It is hard to adequately describe the conditions in many schools here.  It takes such a small amount to make a massive difference. At my own school, I am introducing Steiner Education… but in the local community many children are getting no education at all. I will continue to work with both tasks, but any help I can get towards providing basic resources would be gratefully appreciated.

Nerrida Johnson