21 May 2018
Dr Dinah Dovona-Ope was born in the remote mountainous district of Kongara One in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, and in this small community she developed big dreams.
The Australia Awards alumna has since completed a Master of Education at Adelaide University and a PhD at the University of Southern Queensland – both under the Australia Awards Scholarships Program. She is currently a National Executive Committee Member of the Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association and was also a former lecturer at the University of Goroka.
But it is her vision for her community where Dr Dovona-Ope really shines. She has been educating local people at her training centre in Arawa – helping to make their dreams come true.
“When I left the University of Goroka in 2015, it seemed timely for me to put all my effort into my plans for a training school,” Dr Dovona-Ope said.
“I had started before with early childhood teachers, so I had already set up the project, but in 2015 it seemed right to return and go full-time.”
Her training centre, Target Training and Consultancy Services, is small but Dr Dovona-Ope plans to change this.
“My vision is to go bigger. I would like to form a college or an institute of some kind, in the future.”
The school runs a Certificate in Early Childhood Teacher Education program, with plans to soon begin offering a diploma course in early childhood education studies.
Another initiative that Dr Dovona-Ope is particularly passionate about is the Diploma in School Leadership and Management that she offers for both primary and secondary school teachers.
“Teachers are being pushed to become school administrators without having sufficient skills, so we help them prepare. We encourage all teachers to do this diploma, so that they can be good administrators as they progress their careers.”
The school has also recently branched out into other fields. It now offers training in hospitality and tourism, motor mechanics, welding and fabrication, and extraction equipment operations.
“During my time at the University of Goroka I saw a need for this sort of technical training, and I resolved to address this,” said Dr Dovona-Ope.
Rayleen Ivomari was a student at the Target Training and Consultancy Services. She said the training inspired her and others to open much-needed early childhood centres throughout the region,
“My first child was the motivation for starting training,” she said. “I wanted to be a stay-at-home mum. But I also wanted the best for my child, and so in 2013 I began studying for a certificate in Early Childhood Teaching.
“It was an eye opener for me. It changed my perspective on the importance of teaching children at an early age. It motivated me to establish my own centre. Due to Dr Dovona-Ope’s training, more early childhood learning centres have been opening, and so far, 15 to 20 centres have been established.”
By late 2017, Dr Dovona-Ope’s school had trained 51 early childhood teachers with 29 more part-way through their course. There are 12 working teachers due to complete their Diploma in School Leadership and Management in 2018 – as they are all already working as busy teachers, they study during school breaks to pursue their dreams. There are also 11 graduates who are now working in construction after completing their technical training.
Dr Dovona-Ope is also helping her mountainous home region in other ways. The village of Kongara has no road into it and supplies are carried in by hand, so, she is supporting road construction by supplying much-needed tools and rations. And soon she plans to open a secondary school where it will benefit many needy children and compliment her dream of better education for all.
Dr Dovona-Ope’s path to Australia and back again has seen the realisation of many dreams – and the launching of others for the many people she has affected upon the way.