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New Resource Centre By The EU-STREIT PNG Elevates Education And Market Connectivity In The Sepik, Papua New Guinea

A new era of digital empowerment begins for 1500+ students and numerous farmers’ groups with the inauguration of a Resource Centre at the Brandi Secondary School in East Sepik, Papua New Guinea. This facility, established by the ITU under the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, aims to enhance digital literacy and market connectivity.

Wewak, Papua New Guinea – Under the auspices of the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recently inaugurated a new resource centre at the Brandi Secondary School in East Sepik Province. This facility is dedicated to enhancing digital empowerment for students, local farmers and businesses, providing pivotal opportunities for learning and growth in Information and Communication Technology, e-commerce, and online marketing.

Hundreds of students and staff recently gathered in the school hall to witness the unveiling, presided over by key figures including Mr. Richard Howard, United Nations Resident Coordinator; Mr. Alphonse Kami, Deputy Provincial Administrator of East Sepik; and Mr. Ali Said Yesuf, EU-STREIT PNG Programme Coordinator.

Mr. Howard emphasized the transformative potential of IT education, stating, “The world is changing, and we can learn so much on IT when we have the chance. This IT is about helping you to connect to access knowledge and many other opportunities in the world like learning about e-commerce and trading online." The Resource Center will to be powered by a Solar Photo Voltic System to be installed by UNDP under the EU STREIT PNG programme in June 2024. Mr Howard, highlighted the shift towards sustainable energy sources, noting that solar power represents the future of energy, moving away from harmful oil and gas.

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Mr. Kami expressed gratitude towards the European Union and its member countries for their support, affirming the Provincial Government’s commitment to replicate these advancements throughout local schools. "We also look at replicating that in all our other schools in the province,” he said.

Further enriching the local community, Mr. Yesuf shared insights on the direct benefits to young entrepreneurs in the area. “Some youths are being trained in this centre and have developed websites and e-market places to access overseas vanilla markets in New Zealand and now they are trying to sell to the United States as well. It is important you take full advantage of the Resource Center and advance your IT skills as the future is for IT and you are the future of the country.”

Today, mastering digital skills and competencies, particularly in e-commerce and online marketing, is increasingly vital for farmers aiming to export their products and enhance sales and revenue. This resource centre, with its internet connectivity, will serve as both an initial accelerator lab and an innovative business incubator, particularly for young farmers. ITU is committed to supporting this initiative with a variety of online academies and networks.

Local cocoa, vanilla farmers, and fishers are already reaping the benefits of the resource centre. Recent training sessions have equipped a new cohort of farmers with crucial ICT and digital skills, enabling them to effectively navigate global markets. Young entrepreneurs from Mongs AgTrade Limited, located near the educational facility, have notably used these new skills to engage with international buyers.

Brandi Secondary School's Resource Centre is one of five pioneering facilities across East and West Sepik provinces established by ITU in collaboration with FAO, the National ICT Authority of (NICTA), under the EU-STREIT PNG Programme. These centres are pivotal in ushering in a new era of educational and economic empowerment for the region, enhancing digital literacy and supporting sustainable development. Other facilities include Wosera Secondary School, and Maprik Secondary School in East Sepik Province, and Don Bosco Secondary School in Vanimo, and St. Ignatius Secondary School in Aitape, West Sepik Province.

To ensure their sustainability and long-term viability, the Programme supported the resource centres in developing business plans to generate income. This revenue will be utilized for the ongoing operations and maintenance of the facilities.

The continued growth and impact of these resource centres demonstrate the EU-STREIT PNG Programme's commitment to fostering educational and economic opportunities for the communities of Papua New Guinea.

About the EU-STREIT PNG Programme

The EU-STREIT PNG, being implemented as a United Nations Joint Programme (FAO as a leading agency and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as implementing partners), is the European Union's largest grant-funded initiative in the Pacific. It focuses on boosting sustainable and inclusive economic development in rural areas. This is achieved by enhancing economic returns and opportunities within cocoa, vanilla, and fisheries value chains. Additionally, the Programme strengthens and improves the efficiency of value chain enablers, including access to ICT and digital financial services. It also supports the development of sustainable, climate-resilient transport infrastructures and renewable energy solutions. The Programme benefits two provinces: East Sepik and West Sepik.

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