Meet Dorothy Kenneth, Acting Secretary for the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s (ABG) Education Department. The former secondary school teacher from Buka Island is proof that education can foster a career change.

In 2004, Dorothy closed the last chapter of an 11-year teaching journey, kickstarting her public service career in administration at ABG’s Education Department. For her, it was a new path that came with both challenges and opportunities.

“When I came in as a teacher, I had a passion for education planning and policymaking. Despite having a limited understanding [in these areas], this passion motivated me to pursue further studies,” Dorothy said.

She took the first step to obtain a Bachelor of Education in Planning and Administration from the University of Goroka. Dorothy later received an Australia Awards Scholarship and pursued a Master of Public Policy and Management from Murdoch University, Western Australia, in 2018.

“Obtaining a master’s degree in Australia has opened up opportunities for my career development and advancement,” Dorothy added. She described her experience abroad as a ‘cultural immersion’.

“It was just an amazing experience full of learning — from adjusting to living together with other people to learning about other cultures. Both Australian and Papua New Guinean students got to lean on each other for academic support and, Australian students also learned so much about Papua New Guinea. It was like a global village.”

For Dorothy, her participation in extra-curricular activities such as the Women’s Leadership Initiative under Australia Awards was also helpful. With new skills and knowledge, Dorothy jumped out of her comfort zone and later led the development of the Bougainville Education Strategic Plan 2020-2029 and Bougainville Education Independence Readiness Plan.

“Previously, educational planning had to be led by the National Department of Education, but after my studies, I now had the confidence to lead the development of these strategic plans,” she explained.

Dorothy acknowledges that her success is an example of what women can achieve when they are supported. She celebrates her colleagues for contributing to her achievements. She said, “since Bougainville is a matrilineal society, there is that respect for women at the workplace. This makes us a great team here at the ABG Department of Education.”

Noting the impact of her scholarship, Dorothy would like to see more Papua New Guineans pursuing an Australia Awards Scholarship.

“The Australia Awards Scholarship is a prestigious award. Anyone looking to make a difference should take the opportunity and make the most of it as a scholar to not only learn academically but also to learn about Australia, create networks and gain exposure. Not to forget, enjoy your time in Australia and their way of life,” Dorothy said.