Kokoda Foundation urgently training teachers in Papua New Guinea


The Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF) is pressing ahead with an urgent training project to improve the skills of thousands of elementary school teachers across Papua New Guinea. A complementary solar power project is helping students study at night.

A teacher graduation ceremony. Source: Kokoda Track Foundation

According to KTF Chief Executive Officer, Dr Genevieve Nelson, there are 600,000 school-aged children who do not attend school in PNG due to the lack of qualified teachers.

At the end of the year, more teachers could fall out of the system because of changes to the minimum qualifications required.

Nelson says there is a large number of teachers across PNG who trained in the past 20 years, but were never given the opportunity to finish their studies.


The six-week “Teach for Tomorrow” project now allows them to complete that training. The project has already put 1200 partially trained teachers through the short course, but the aim is to have another 2500 graduate with a Certificate in Elementary Teaching.

The certificate meets the new minimum qualification needed by December 31 and allows the teachers to remain in the education system.

‘This is vitally important to the future education of Papua New Guineans.’

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The project is a collaboration between KTF, the National Department of Education and PNG Education Institute.

Nelson says it has been financially backed by provincial governments, the Australian aid program, and corporate sponsors.

‘This is vitally important to the future education of Papua New Guineans.’

Dr Genevieve Nelson addressing 500 teacher graduates at Morobe Source: Kokoda Track Foundation


The first “Teach for Tomorrow” course was in Oro Province last year, with 330 graduates. KTF reports that 88 per cent of participants in that course had been working as partially trained teachers for six years or more.

KTF has since expanded the project to Gulf, Morobe and Milne Bay provinces, and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

KTF was established in 2003 to repay the support given to Australia by PNG during World War II. Over the years, the presence of the aid and development agency has spread beyond the Kokoda region to include the entire country.

Solar lights

Hand-in-hand with the teacher-training program, the Australian charity, SolarBuddy.org, has been handing out solar lights to the teachers and school children so they can do schoolwork at night.

‘Only about 13 per cent of Papua New Guineans are on the electricity grid.’

Solar Buddy inventor and chief executive officer, Simon Doble, says 17,000 lights have been donated around the globe in less than a year, in what he describes as a battle against ‘energy poverty’. About 1500 have been sent to PNG via KTF.

‘Around the world, one in five people go to bed in total darkness,’ says Doble.

Electricity grid

In PNG, it is estimated that only about 13 per cent of Papua New Guineans are on the electricity grid and only 3.7 per cent of the rural population is connected.

Children in solar-powered homes have more time to study and read. These children in Uganda have benefited from the Solar Buddy project.

Children in newly solar-powered homes remain awake longer each day and use 38 per cent of their additional time for studying and reading, according to Doble.

‘Our solar lights allow Papua New Guineans to study, prepare lessons or do business at night,’ he says.

‘Apart from the education benefits, there are also environmental and economic benefits because people do not have to buy expensive torch batteries or kerosene (for lighting).’

The small lights run off a solar-charged battery that can be recharged 500 times, providing up to 10 hours of light at a time. Replacement batteries are available.



  1. Margaret Kepea says

    I have read about the Kokoda college and am impressed deeply. I wish to enquire about how to apply for the college. Should I be kindly informed of how to apply there if possible to teach the student teachers. I have completed my studies in Divine Word University – Master in Education Leadership and am teaching at St. Clare Primary School at Ialibu.

    Thanks and hope to hear from you soon.

    Greetings and God bless.

    Mrs Margaret Kepea

  2. David Paul Kilya says

    Some of our student are interested to study for Diploma in Teaching Primary and CHW at Kokoda Training Foundation Kou-Kou so please can you assist me to the right person in charge. Or if not give me the full cantact address and Phone so the i can enquire for more information about the enrollment next year..

    Thanks and hear from you soon.

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