The Revival of Education in Bougainville Island

Novel Media Assignment

The Revival of Education in Bougainville Island

Villagers continue to experience the negative impacts of war in Bougainville, with despair and disillusionment running high. Over the past two years, Bougainville Island has experienced perpetual warfare between rival factions, with the native islanders experiencing the negative repercussions of war. Although there is an abundance of food in the island, education deteriorated in the wake of the war. Currently, the island suffers from a lack of teachers, doctors, and even medicine. The problem stems from a blockade placed by the Papua New Guinea government on the island, barring anyone or anything from entering or leaving the island. As the war raged on, teachers and students left school to join the war. All hope seemed lost until Mr. Watts, the only white inhabitant left in the island, decided to revive the local school. Matilda, a fourteen-year-old native, tells a harrowing story of a blossoming and bright island suddenly thrust into darkness, and all hope for the future thrown to the dogs. This is the story of a man’s effort to revive Bougainville’s education sector, assisted only by his wife.

It was in 1990, Matilda says, that the government of Papua New Guinea made a life-changing decision to blockade the entire island to the detriment of the local people. The centre of the conflict is the richest copper mine in the whole world. Matilda says that following the blockade, young men from the village volunteered to join the war in a bid to liberate the island. The Rambo rebels, as they call themselves, have vowed to protect this village at all cost; including sacrificing their own lives. The enemy lurks in the bushes she says, waiting to strike at any opportune moment. They are heavily armed, dangerous, and willing to kill anyone or anything that crosses their path – they are call them the ‘redskins’, who are actually members of the PNG soldiers financed by the Australian government. The Rambos are engaged in an unending guerrilla warfare, a struggle for their rights and liberation of the island.

A ray of hope emerged when Mr. Watts, the only white inhabitant left in the island, decided to give the islanders an education, and an opportunity to change the future. Mr. Watts managed to open the schoolhouse and attract the villagers to the dilapidated school. However, this was no ordinary education. The only teacher, Mr. Watts lacked the necessary teaching qualifications, and furthermore, the school lacked vital learning aids such as books. The only book left in the island was a literature book known as ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens, which Mr. Watts would read to the villagers daily. Popularly known as ‘pop eye’, Mr. Watts managed to give the village a new meaning, and a new lease of life. As the villagers slowly became engrossed in literature, the terror reigned by “redskins gunboats” slowly faded into the oblivion (Jones 17). This is because the villagers associated with the characters in the novel like they were real people.

Soon after the school started, the villagers gained a new dimension by associating themselves with the characters in the novel. Everyone including Matilda’s mother as well as other women soon discovered a new imaginary world, a world they could only know of through their ears. Even in their new school, the threat of an attack remained real. As Matilda says, the villagers’ “only consolation was that by reading it (Great Expectations) a second and third time we would still have another country to flee to”, indicating the constant interruptions by the ongoing conflict between the redskins and the Rambos (Jones 81). Once when the rediskins descended on the land, they sought to know the rebel leader known as Mister Pip. Unknowing to them, this was only a fictional character who existed in the novel. After reigning destruction on the island, Mr. Watts declared himself as Mister Pip, and was put to death.

Part B: Viewpoints




The Revival of Education in Bougainville Island
The Revival of Education in Bougainville Island



(Sturm 1)

PHOTO: Rebels fighting for control of the copper mines





Part C: Reflection

Some aspects of the assignment were more/less interesting. One of the most interesting aspects of the assignment was viewing the documentary “The Coconut Revolution” which was very informative as well as interesting. The documentary analyses an uncharted conflict in the heart of Bougainville, a conflict shunned by the international media. The detailed documentary explores the lives of ordinary islanders involved in the conflict as they go about their normal routine. Preparing a feature article was also interesting. It was interesting to intertwine the characters and events as they occur in Mister Pip in the feature article to give a human perspective to the novel with regard to the real events in Bougainville. As the novel narrates the story using fictional characters, the documentary on the other hand gives the true nature of events and life in the island. Combined, the documentary and the feature article provide a clear perspective of the conflict in the island, and the plight of the islanders, making it quite interesting.

The parts of the assignment I am most proud of are the feature article and the audio clip. I am proud of the feature article because it is much detailed and contains the power of the written language. The feature article contains powerful words and opinion meant to influence readers about their side of the conflict. On the other hand, the audio clip can help readers gauge the tone of the narrator, which is that of a concerned narrator. The audio clip is captivating and can help command the attention of the audience. The audio clip appeals to the imaginations of the audience with regard to the story about the conflict. I feel I could improve on the poster. First, I felt the poster was not as visually appealing as I meant it to be. The poster lacked contrast, which could have made it more visually appealing I gained insight on how the media functions. It is worth noting that the media is critical in shaping the perspective of the audience in relation to a particular story.

Works Cited

Jones, Lloyd. Mister Pip. Melbourne: Text Publishing Company, 2006. Print.

fPcN intercultural. “The Coconut Revolution.” Online video clip. Youtube. Posted 11 May 2011.             Accessed 9 August 2016.

Sturm, Axel. U.S. Department of State heading for peace in Bouganville, n.d., Accessed 9 August            2016.

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