Boliu Adventist School on the island of Mussau, Papua New Guinea, has been closed for the remainder of the year following a devastating fire that destroyed its entire classroom block last Tuesday night.
The building, comprising classrooms, administration, resource and workrooms, and teachers’ offices, was burnt down. The blaze ripped through the building in 40 minutes as the school does not have a water supply.
Fortunately, no students or teachers were hurt in the fire. The school chapel, library and dormitories are still standing.
South Pacific Division education director Dr Carol Tasker said it was a huge loss and the school community is grieving.
“While it was originally a primary school, it is now a high school with grades 9 and 10, and is the only high school on the island, servicing six primary feeder schools on Mussau and one on Tench,” she said.
“The school had plans and preparations in place to commence Year 11 next year. They had recently taken delivery of science equipment, technical equipment, including sewing machines, and school uniforms in readiness for the new grade level in the new year. But this has all been destroyed in the fire.”
The school has 180 students and 11 teachers.
Former student Dr Jennifer Litau, now a lecturer at Pacific Adventist University, said Boliu was where many pioneer missionaries were introduced to God and learned basic English skills during the 1930s and ‘40s.
“Christian values and principles taught and caught through the school program contributed to shaping young hearts and minds,” said Dr Litau, who was the third generation in her family to attend the school.
“Hopefully, from this devastation a new Boliu will emerge that will ignite the all-time passion and love for God, His gospel and education to prepare for service again.”
The school board met on Sunday and made a number of recommendations, including to build temporary classrooms in readiness for the 2018 academic year.
Police investigations are continuing into the blaze.