Anne Lydia Dandava always believed that education was the key to a better future. Growing up in a Runa village, located at the fringe of Arawa town, southeast of Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Anne knew firsthand the struggles that many of her peers faced in accessing quality education.

After completing her own education and working as a teacher in Port Moresby for 20 years, Anne decided it was time to move back home to AROB and contribute to the development of the island’s education sector. “I always knew that I wanted to give back to my community,” she says, “and education seemed like the best way to do it.”

But she needed the technical know-how to build, develop and manage a school. This led her to pursue Master of Education at Queensland University of Technology, through the Australia Awards. She graduated in 2009.

Whilst studying, a peculiar yet inspirational quote from the university’s Director of International Service struck her as she arrived on campus for studies. “It was a beautiful frame on the wall with the words engraved: ‘Go and make an impact in your communities’,” Anne recalled.

In 2014, Anne founded Runa Secondary School, for students who had dropped out of the traditional education system to receive a second chance at their education. The school was entirely self-funded and Anne poured her own savings into building it.

Anne also completed an Australia Awards short course on inclusive education which opened her eyes to a broader meaning of inclusive education beyond disability inclusion. She realized that it includes a lot of things and she put herself in the kids’ shoes.

“The scholarship gave me the opportunity to learn more about inclusive education,” she says. “It opened my eyes to the broader meaning of inclusive education beyond disability inclusion.”

Anne’s community is special; the kids in her classes have gone through the crisis, and some are married students who come back for a second chance. Anne’s goal is to help the students get the best education possible and she has a lot of plans to work with the community.

Anne’s passion for helping her community is unwavering, and she plans to use the knowledge she gained from her scholarship and short course to help the teachers in her community. Anne wants to improve the quality of education for her students and help them to succeed. She believes that even small things can make a big difference, and she is committed to making a difference in her community.

Applications for Intake 2024 Australia Awards Scholarships are now open. Find out more: www.australiaawardspng.org