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Where could your tech skills take you?

Children playing on a raft in Papua New Guinea Ginny Lattul

Christian's tech skills took him to Papua New Guinea

Tech and IT skills are increasingly in demand in developing countries 

This means new opportunities for volunteers with expertise in these fields, like Christian Kuijlaars, to improve standards and accountability in health, education and governance in countries like Papua New Guinea.

Skills in demand in a changing world

Up until recently, Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Department of Education had no clear picture of how schools across the country were actually performing.

Volunteer Christian Kuijlaars has helped change all that. Today, the department can analyse the performance of nearly a quarter of a million students, compare data by region, gender or level – thanks to a project he managed.

Christian Kuijlaars, VSO volunteer in Papua New Guinea

Christian Kuijlaars, VSO volunteer in Papua New Guinea

Making a difference through technology 

Christian was recruited by VSO to lend his skills as a volunteer on two projects – firstly to digitise, for the first time, all Grade 8 exam results for the last three years, and secondly to support a national effort to survey facilities across the country for early childhood education.

His work was varied, including recruiting data entry clerks, acquiring material, setting up a workspace and managing a team of twenty people entering data and building the database.

He also planned workshops to help partners understand and analyse the data, and how to work with IT programmes.

Challenges and rewards

Working in a country like PNG with such a dramatically different culture has been fascinating, as well as challenging.

Gone was the Western work ethic Christian was used to. In its place, an alien workplace culture where people often prioritised family life, even during ‘work hours’, and with ad hoc staff absences. Christian saw these as a personal challenge he had to learn to adapt to.

Children at the Buk Bilong Pikinini Library in Port Moresby Ginny Lattul

Children at the Buk Bilong Pikinini Library in Port Moresby

Working with a group of 20 people with completely different backgrounds was both interesting and rewarding for Christian.

Seeing key members of government staff understanding for the first time the need for action on early childhood education was deeply fulfilling. Before the survey, they had no contact with these centres, nor understanding of their status.   

Living in beautiful Papua New Guinea was a bonus. Taking boat trips to explore tropical beaches, enjoying BBQs with friends and diving in snorkelling the world’s most perfectly preserved reefs are memories that will last a lifetime.

Find out where your tech skills could take you

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