SUPPORT for Papua New Guinea’s tertiary institutions and environment were on the agenda in ExxonMobil PNG’s (EMPNG) community engagement programs this quarter.

The PNG LNG project operator donated 70 laptops to students of Don Bosco Technical Institute (DBTI) in Port Moresby and the Lae University of Technology (LUT).

Thirty of the computers were donated to female students at DBTI and 40 went to engineering students at LUT, with the university also receiving a power generator to offset shortages.

The 560 KVA generator will be used for back-up power for dormitories and the library.

Lae University vice chancellor Albert Schram said the donation would help offset power outages which regularly disrupted students’ studies.

EMPNG community development manager Sisa Kini said Lae University played a crucial role in the development of engineers, with some going on to work at EMPNG.

“A number of our employees have come from this university and we are very pleased and proud to build on our relationship with the university,” she said.

At the presentation DBTI spokeswoman Sister Alice thanked EMPNG for the donation and encouraged students to use the laptops for their education.

“Computers are a necessary tool for any student, especially in tertiary level of education for their assignments and course work.”

EMPNG managing director Peter Graham said investing in education was a key priority for the company.

“These days, technology is so important for learning, and we hope that this donation of laptops benefits their grades and studies,” Mr Graham said.

The Piku Project

The endangered pig-nosed turtle – or Piku as it is known locally – is being helped by a University of Canberra and University of Papua New Guinea project, with support from EMPNG.

Since 2011 EMPNG has committed more than K2.5 million to support the Piku Project, which has long been a source of food for people living in the Kikori delta but has seen sharp recent declines in numbers.

University of Canberra Professor Arthur Georges said the program was about more than protecting an important turtle species.

“It is about building community awareness of the need for environmental sustainability more generally, and protecting the turtle’s habitat for future generations,” he said.

Mr Graham said EMPNG was committed to protecting the country’s environment.

“The Piku Project is a good example of how community-led conservation initiatives can lead to real results.”

Program funding has supported a range of activities including community outreach efforts to raise awareness about the turtle, along with monitoring to help understand how the turtle lives and the threats it faces.

The program also has a capacity-building component to increase technical expertise in conservation science Papua New Guinea, which includes a master’s degree scholarship for a student from Divine Word University.

In conjunction with the project, a children’s book entitled The Adventures of Piggy on the Kikori has been distributed to over 10,000 school children in the country, EMPNG said.

A second book, Monty and the Lake Kutubu Invasion, has been published and will be sent to children across the Kikori drainage area in the next few months.

Earlier this year the Piku Project team also established an exhibit at the Port Moresby Nature Park, where the books are being sold.