STUDENTS from Australia’s Federation University are the first to travel to Papua New Guinea for work and study under the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan.

The students carried out a four week professional teaching practicum in Oro Province, working alongside local teachers in the Kokoda Elementary School and the Kokoda Skills Training Centre.

Students at Federation University make a trek of the Kokoda Track on a yearly basis. It was on the university’s visit in 2014 that education lecturer Carolyn Johnstone noticed the opportunities for education students in the region.

Seven students from the university, based in the Australian city of Ballarat, arrived in early June while the other five are to arrive in Papua New Guinea to do their practicums in mid-2016.

Federation University will also send 14 students to Japan for language studies, five business students to Singapore and 5 to China on an early childhood education study tour.

They are among more than 3,000 young Australians from 37 universities who will live, study and work in the Indo-Pacific region during the second year of the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan.

Australian High Commissioner to PNG Deborah Stokes said the New Colombo Plan was focused on building people-to-people links and regional engagement.

“I would also like to thank representatives from Oro Province for hosting our young Australians. I could not think of a better place in PNG to commence the New Colombo Plan,” she said.

“Your time in Kokoda will build on the existing strong links we have through the Kokoda Initiative and the several thousands of trekkers who walk the Kokoda Track each year.”

“I would like to thank the Papua New Guinea Government for their participation in the New Colombo Plan and PNG’s Department of Education for the assistance they have provided to the group in organising their placements,” she added.