Full Cohort at Newton College Despite COVID-19 Challenges

Feb 16, 2021

ABM has received the latest update on Newton Theological College from Acting Principal, Bishop Jeff Driver.

Bishop Jeff reports that, “Despite some very significant challenges, it has been a fruitful year so far. There is a full cohort of students, with the first-year students settled in and the senior year students looking towards completing their studies.

The COVID19 pandemic has had a major impact on PNG, testing where it occurs showing positive results above 40%. Vaccination levels are still very low. There have been times when the college has needed to lock down, but for the most part classes have been continuing.”

The college has been able to purchase a vehicle to transport staff and students to Popondetta town when needed, and for other trips.

Progress is being made on connecting all the buildings on the college grounds to the mains power grid. Once completed, this will be a wonderful change from dependence on the college generator, which provided power for only three hours each evening.

Bishop Jeff says, “Connection to the various buildings has required considerable repair work, so this part of the project is ongoing. When it is completed, staff and students will have electricity on an ‘Easy-Pay’ meter system and the availability of power during the day will be of great assistance to the teaching and administration of the college.”

Work will get underway later this year to repair the clinic and nurse’s house that form part of the Newton campus, and the women’s program continues

The bishop adds, “The college has a small cocoa plantation of about one hectare. This is starting to get to the point where it will be yielding a small cash return, which will help the students…Such development projects are part of theology and ministry in PNG.”

As noted in previous reports, the Papua New Guinea Government is upgrading tertiary education standards, which Newton will need to meet. The curriculum has been thoroughly revised, but there is more work to be done on staff qualifications, academic administration, library acquisitions and information technology.

ABM thanks Bishop Jeff, and our many generous donors who provide funding for the operation of the college.

We ask you to continue to pray for all the Newton College Community as they work through the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges.