THE Simbu Writers Association’s initiative to host an annual literary competition for secondary school students was endorsed at the Head Teachers’ Annual Conference in Kundiawa last Thursday.
Chairperson Mr Pinaga invited SWA members to make a one-hour presentation before the meeting.
Ku High School principal Ware Mukale spoke as did Mathias Kin and Francis Nii.
Among the matters brought forward were the importance of reading, writing and speaking English outside the classroom environment as a way to improve the appalling decline in language skills in PNG schools over the last 5-10 years.
One way forward is to hold an annual literary competition for students which will also include debates, quizzes and the production and distribution of students’ writing in an anthology.
Mr Mukale, a very strong supporter of SWA, said Ku High School is happy to take the lead by hosting this year’s event because the idea falls in line with the school’s diversity program. Next year another school will host it, he said.
Mr Mukale then presented the program and expenditure budget for the Ku event to the principals.
Kondiu Secondary School principal Gabriel Aina said the idea was really good because learning English in the classroom is one thing and practical application in the real world is another. He said students must be exposed to this experience.
Mr Aina added that that drug and alcohol abuse by students in schools is becoming a problem because they are not fully occupied. This activity will keep them occupied and help alleviate this bad habit.
Abakure Mogia displayed some books written by Simbu authors and proposed that the annual English speaking fee of K50 per student paid to the school be transferred to SWA to run the competition.
At the end of the discussion it was agreed to accept the idea. Every secondary school will have a chance to host the annual competition, each school will contribute K420 each towards the outstanding expenses of the Ku event and the K50 English fee paid by students will be transferred to SWA starting next year.
Students are SWA’s most important target and getting the schools involved is vital. This meeting a great opportunity for SWA to sell its idea and the committee was highly impressed with the outcome.
There are three benchmarks SWA is focusing on: Simbu Provincial Literacy Day on 5 September at Ku High School; producing Simbu’s own Anthology at the end of the year; and bringing the 2015 Crocodile Prize to our small town of Kundiawa.
If we achieve at least two of these aims, we can proudly claim to have done something significant and confidently offer advice to others who wish to follow SWA’s footprints.
For the benefit of people who wish to start their own writers association or club, I wish to share some personal observations with you.
You will need to have a Constitution and IPA registration which are normal formalities.
At the outset, simply throw ideas around among your friends and likeminded people and gauge their views. Through consultation, you will be able to identify the key people who will make things happen.
This kind of activity involves a lot of voluntary work and sacrifice. It will demand a lot of time, energy and resources. So the people you have in the engine room are very important.
Look at the energy and resources Keith Jackson and Phil Fitzpatrick put into running the Crocodile Prize and the production of the Anthology. Theirs is a paragon of virtue in volunteerism and sacrifice that we should all embrace.
In Papua New Guinea society, you will notice that, in a new organisation of this sort, many people come to the first meeting. Next time they do not return.
The majority wants to find out what they can gain. They come with the question, what is in it for me? This is the dangerous group. They are destroyers. They will turn around and destroy you if there is nothing for them.
Very few come because they have the same interest and the will and heart to make it happen.
These people, when they do come, have foreseen in their mind’s eye the path of the idea and are prepared to take it on whatever comes their way. They will resort to every means to make it happen.
In essence, these are the people I am talking about. It is very important to have the right people in the engine room at the initial stage to drive the whole idea forward and this is what is driving SWA forward.
I don’t know about other provinces but I must say that the community spirit among Simbu elites is unique. They have a very strong attachment to their people and their homeland regardless of their status, location and walk of life.
When an initiative appears advantageous to the province and its people and to their mind is beneficial, they are always behind it.
They will support it with great heart and drive.
When we were planning the Simbu Provincial Literacy Day event, SWA did not have any finance. But we didn’t see that as an obstacle because the committee believed in themselves that they could make it happen.
After having done our groundwork, we called for sponsorships and Simbu elites all over the world proudly put their hand up.
To our surprise, not only Simbus but friends of Simbus like Bob Cleland, Keith Jackson and others also put their hand up. This is amazing and SWA and Ku High School are now confident of pulling off the event comes 5 September.
With the endorsement and support of the head teachers, the road has widened and the future looks a little brighter.