Port Moresby (Agenzia Fides) – The mission of the Church in Papua New Guinea is largely played out in its service in the area of education. This is what Fr. Lino Pedercini, PIME Missionary in Papua New Guinea since 1990, said in describing the situation of the Catholic missions, religious orders, dioceses, and academic institutions on every level. There are three kinds of schools in the country: the government-run (public) schools, those under the patronage of the Catholic Church, and those run by Protestant Churches. The schools run by the Churches make a fundamental contribution to society and the country, especially in forming the new generations.
In his past 20 years spent in Papua, Fr. Lino has been working on the Island of Kiriwina and in Normanbay. He has helped to start various schools, churches, and social projects such as wells for drinking-water. In Normanbay, as well, which is a mountainous area, he previously lived on the coast and helped build schools, churches, an oratory with a chapel and meeting rooms, and five wells with a manual pump. The schools begun by the missionary are now attended by nearly 3,000 children.
The missionaries' work, he says, is sometimes a fatigue as “there are no roads and the means of travel are limited to mountain passes and waterways.” The indigenous people living in the area are extremely poor and live off their crops and small agricultural trade consisting of coconuts and betels from their property. Given the social and economic conditions of the families, the children do not receive an education and the missions often go to meet this need. Catholic schools offer thousands of children the opportunity of receiving grammar school education, as well as upper level education to many. “Usually about 30% of the alumni go on to higher education,” and this is definitely a sign of success. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 21/4/2009)