The Bougainville civil war that raged for almost 10 years – from 1988 until 1997 – caused great devastation. Among other things, many young people lost the opportunity to get an education and to earn a decent living.
Today, while the Autonomous Region of Bougainville slowly rebuilds, CUFA has embarked on an innovative on-the-job training program which is now giving back dignity, hope and the chance of a job to a generation who were forced from school during the conflict. These activities were implemented as part of the Australian Government’s support to CUFA under the Bougainville Youth Initiative (BYI).
The Australian Government continues to provide support to Bougainville under the BYI to encourage youth participation in Bougainville’s economic and social development.
CUFA Project Officer Nellie Onabake said, “The task was to attach students from St Pauls Vocational school in the Central District to on-the-job training in Arawa and Buka, the two main townships of Bougainville.
“The students were grade 8 to 10 drop outs during the conflict. Some of them are now over 30 years old. All had their lives disrupted by the Bougainville crisis and now finally have the chance to earn a trade certificate that could help them find jobs – to support themselves and their families.”
Since April, CUFA has successfully attached 107 final year students to training schemes. The students receive an allowance and CUFA also makes sure they are equipped with the tools they need to complete the training.
Nick Pa’ai (left) and CUFA Country Program Manager Yaman Kutlu in front of partially constructed Bougainville Agro Tech Warehouse.
Nick’s golden chance
Nick Pa’ai is a final year carpentry student from Central District. He calls his opportunity to attend the CUFA program and learn a trade skill his “golden chance”. Nick was a grade 9 student before the Bougainville crisis cut short his education and career prospects. CUFA has helped him and six of his friends to do their practical training at Bougainville Agro Tech, which sells agricultural goods and building materials. Now Nick’s proudly looking forward to graduating in December and finally getting his hands on his National Certificate 1.
A second chance for carpentry student Nick Pa’ai.
Learning practical skills
The success of the internship program is built on partnerships CUFA has forged with local contractors, who teach the on-the-job interns their valuable practical skills.
Meet Danny Tome, Aloysius Natoo and Jonathan Dinnu, below, who are receiving their training at the Rising Sun Guest House, a practical lifeline which is not only supplementing their school studies but paying them an allowance too.
From left: Danny Tome, Jonathan Dinnu, CUFA project officer Nellie Onabake and Aloysius Natoo.
Great skills = great job prospects
The best internship programs result in firm job offers for trainees. Carpentry students Joel Bankini and Max Bentena are set to become permanent employees for Annold’s Contractors when their placements finish. Great result all round!
“Can’t wait to graduate”
One of the biggest breakthroughs for the program was winning placements at state owned businesses like PNG Power. Nellie explained, “It’s a milestone because in the past the students at this particular institution have missed out on practical training. During my monitoring program the manager at PNG Power expressed that the students are hardworking and committed. This is positive feedback from the manager to the students and the institution itself.”
Currently there are 12 Electrical trainees doing their practical at PNG Power. All of them said they can’t wait for their graduation date, and best of all – most of them will go on to be employed by the company.