Posted: 26 Jun. 2020 5 min. read

Digital hub a game-changer for schoolchildren of PNG’s Milne Bay province

In the popular tourist diving destination and south-east Papua New Guinea province of Milne Bay, computers and books can be hard to come by. There’s also a chronic shortage of people with digital skills. So, since the Milne Bay Education Resource Centre and Public Library opened in August 2019, hundreds of local children have flocked there every afternoon to study and check out the books on offer. To put this in perspective the new Milne Bay Library is only the second public library in PNG along with the National Public Library in Port Moresby.

In March this year, Deloitte PNG, Deloitte Australia and tech consulting firm Future Crunch realised a shared vision for the Milne Bay centre with our charity partner Buk bilong Pikinini. Our vision was to take the centre to a whole new level by merging traditional and digital literacy there and to foster a culture of innovation for the province’s children.

The result was a boost to the centre of 8,000 books and 12 new computers from Buk bilong Pikinini (BbP) in partnership with The Deloitte Foundation through Deloitte’s PNG office.

The computers were specifically chosen to create a digital hub for children and other young people to access digital learning and do research online and to provide them with the best foundation and skills to navigate the future digital economy. Another big problem in PNG is health.  Diseases such as polio and TB are still common and getting basic health information to people is a big part of a library’s role.

This donation is game-changing. Just a few months ago at the Milne Bay centre, there wasn’t a computer anywhere. This equipment provides the young people of Milne Bay province a window to the world. These kids will now have a chance at literacy and education – access to the Internet will empower them like nothing else can.

Why did we do this? I’ve been going up to PNG for a couple of years. I love the country and its people. But the high level of disadvantage is hard to miss. The 2015 census recorded the adult literacy rate in PNG as 63.4%, noting it’s possibly even lower. Community and business leaders acknowledge literacy challenges are a major obstacle to PNG’s progress as a nation.

Deloitte’s commitment to helping to facilitate teaching and learning in PNG is part of the firm’s global WorldClass commitment to improve 50 million lives by 2030. PNG is our nearest neighbour. There’s so much we can do to help them.

As my colleague and Deloitte PNG’s Managing Partner Benjamin Lee said It’s really awe-inspiring to see the number of children and youths eagerly using the Milne Bay Education Resource Centre and Public Library. As we move more and more towards a digital world, it’s crucial that we merge traditional literacy and digital literacy to help foster innovation and creative thinking in the next generation of PNG’s children. We hope that the Milne Bay Education Resource Centre and Public Library is just the first of many that will open up in PNG through Public and Private partnerships.

More about the author

Peter Williams

Peter Williams

Chief Edge Officer, Centre for the Edge

Peter is a recognised thought leader and practitioner in Innovation. Peter started working with internet technologies in 1993 and in 1996 founded an eBusiness Consulting group, Deloitte Australia. Since that time Peter is the CEO of the Eclipse Group, a Deloitte subsidiary, and then founded Deloitte Digital. He is also the Chairman of Deloitte’s Innovation Council and the Chief Edge Officer. He is recently named as one of Australia’s top Digital Influences and is an Adjunct Professor at RMIT. Pete is a long standing director of the Deloitte Foundation. He worked tirelessly on bushfire recovery for two years after the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, with a particular focus on the community of Flowerdale. He has also worked extensively on Community Led Recovery in Victoria following the Black Summer fires of 2020, and was recognised for his efforts by being awarded the 2020 Deloitte Social Impact Award.