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Papua New Guinea
There is an unacceptable level of physical and sexual violence towards children and youth in PNG, particularly towards females, with an estimated 70% of women experiencing rape or assault in their lifetime. There is also an increasing number of young girls (12-18 years) engaging in commercial sexual exploitation and children living or working on the streets.
In the capital of Port Moresby, an increasing number of young people are leaving school without the necessary skills or experience for work, contributing to an estimated 37% population illiteracy. The upper secondary school gross enrolment ratio has been estimated to be only 22% with youth finding the transition from school to work increasingly difficult, impacting their ability to positively contribute to society.
Save the Children sees first-hand the impact that violence and abuse has on a young person’s dignity and physical and psychological well-being, and their ability to make safer choices in their lives as adults.
Through the 'Life, Literacy & League Program', of which this project forms a part, Save the Children is reducing the number of children being abused in PNG, thus giving them a better chance to stay out of harm, stay in school and engage in employment. The program teaches young people basic literacy and life skills through a sports-themed course run by Save the Children in conjunction with program partners from the National Rugby League (NRL).
The program offered 3 sessions per week for to 20 young people aged 10-18 years old (50% of which were female) living in an informal settlement just outside of Port Moresby. Many of these young people were chronically disengaged from education and the program was hopeful in encouraging them to return to school and/or developing their employment pathways. Each session of the program consisted of an hour-long rugby session combined with an hour-long literacy & life skills session and mentoring.
Our youth worker worked with the young people in group and individual sessions, teaching them about making safe choices, self-protective behaviours, alcohol, drug and sexual education, communication skills, and promoting young people as strong and valued community contributors.
Those participants who had not completed basic schooling received lessons to develop basic life and literacy skills that give them a better chance to find a job and live safer lives.
The NRL on-field activities are designed to be equally accessible to males and females who participate side-by-side and demonstrated equality and respect through these practical lessons. Local professional NRL players, many of whom come from a similar back ground to the young participants visited the program often to motivate the participants and reinforce the importance education and participant attendance.
Participants costs (e.g. bus fares, modest phone credits to remain contactable, healthy meal at each session) were also covered to better engage them in the program and ensure their attendance at every session.
80% of participants completed the course and are in the process of returning to the mainstream education system or working to gain employment.
Due to the success of this program term, the project will continue with a third group of young people in the second term October – December 2017, with the view to eventually extend the program to work with 100 young people in many areas of Port Moresby.
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