Jane Fajans is a professor of Anthropology at Cornell University. She was invited to join the James Cameron expedition during their time in Papua New Guinea and share her insights into the culture of the Baining people. Jane conducted fieldwork with the Baining on the island of Papua New Guinea, near the Mariana Trench in the South Pacific.
On Monday I decided to visit Kolopom Primary School. Martin offered to accompany me since I had never been to this school before. Kolopom is the biggest school in the coastal Baining region and is growing. Until recently it only went up to 6th grade. To continue their education, students used to have to graduate with good grades from 6th grade, and then go on to boarding school elsewhere. Only a few families among the Baining could afford to send their children to boarding school in the past.
Tony Paska, headmaster of Kolopom School, Coastal Baining District, Papua New Guinea. Photo by Jane Fajans.
Nowadays, the schools are being extended to include all grades up to 10. Kolopom is now offering grades 3-7, and next year will add grade 8; they will add a new grade every year until the school can accommodate up to to grade 10. For the first two grades, children go to elementary schools in their own communities. Then, they move to the more centralized primary schools, which host children coming from 4-5 local elementary schools. After grade 10, some students go on to high school, and some go to vocational school to learn special skills to help them acquire jobs.