Villanova Senior High School opened with four buildings: an administration centre, a general classroom block, a staff centre, and a block with specialist classrooms for science and computer education. Construction took five months, and was completed on time.
On its opening day the school welcomed forty-eight students, comprising thirty-five boys and thirteen girls, almost all of whom are ethnically Papuan. In some other parts of the world this gender imbalance might be of concern, yet in Papua it is a sign of progress because two generations ago indigenous Papuan families did not offer a senior secondary education to their daughters, who instead remained at home with household duties.
Most of the students come from the city of Manokwari itself, but about ten students hail from distant villages in the Papuan interior, and these are predominant among the school’s ten male boarders. Most of these students are from poor farming families, and are probably the first generation in their families to receive a senior high school education.
In this pioneering year of Villanova Senior High School, a male boarding hostel (call an asrama in Indonesia) was established in temporary quarters. Depending on the availability of funds, a purpose-built asrama building for boys will be constructed in 2011.
As well, it is hoped that by 2012 an asrama for girls will be possible. This will be dependent on the finding of some congregation of religious sisters to conduct it, and also a benefactor to pay for its construction. This will be an important step in social justice by extending educational opportunity to ethnic Papuan girls from villages deep in the interior of Papua.
The staff comprises an Augustinian priest as Rector, a layman as headmaster, three other Augustinians, and six lay teachers (two male, and four female). Because of the small enrolment at this point, the director and one male teacher (who is also the office administrator) are as yet the only full-time staff employees.
For involvement at Villanova at a later date, two additional young professed Augustinians have been selected for further academic studies in the Philippines.
Through Villanova, the Augustinians desire to show and live what is really meant by the Augustinian spirituality of brotherhood and sisterhood, commitment to learning, and the forming of community among students, staff, parents and the local neighbourhood.
All classes at Villanova are taught in the Indonesian language, and English is a compulsory subject within the established standard curriculum of all Indonesian high schools. As is common with this type of school in Papua, agriculture is taught, but not any manual trade courses. Villanova has instituted additional classes on languages (predominantly on Indonesian and English) and local culture (Papuan dances and music) in order to strengthen awareness of identity.
It is anticipated that Villanova Senior High School will grow into a four-stream school (i.e., four classes each of Grades 10, 11 and 12). The school land covers two hectares, and enjoys in a good location in a growth area on the outskirts of the expanding city of Manokwari, the capital city of the Province of Papua Barat, Indonesia.
Photos (at right):
Picture 1: School sign, July 2010.
Pictures 2 & 3: School under construction, March-July 2010.
Picture 4: A classroom in use during July 2010.
For Augnet’s images of Villanova Senior High School go to the end of the photo gallery named Papua: Susweni after you click here.