2018 Suanum & 2019 Sirr,
Papua New Guinea

Suanum & Sirr Elementary Schools

  • Location: Tumrawa and Sirr, Papua New Guinea
  • Completed: Stage 1 Tumrawa (Suanum), November 2018; Stage 2 Sirr, March 2019

School teachers in Papua New Guinea can work for many years without wages, instead relying on the local community to provide basic food and housing. Simple resources such as books, pens and paper are not supplied by the government and classrooms and toilets are rudimentary and lack funds for maintenance. Despite the hardships challenging the teachers at the Suanum and Sirr Elementary Schools the teachers remain dedicated to their students and continuously strive to improve opportunities towards the best possible education outcomes.

This project has played out in two parts and in two locations with the Bower Studio supporting the construction of two schools. Stage 1 saw the Bower team designing, training and working alongside the community to build the Suanum Elementary School at Tumrawa, near Munjun Village. This project supported the three staff and thirty-five students with a new learning space and toilets. Over a one-week period the Bower team partnered with a huge team from the local communities to work together to complete the timber framed and clad structures on high ground prepared by the community to avoid the rising sea levels eroding the coastline.

This work team was further expanded with people from the Sirr and Sikan communities, approximately four kilometres east along the coast, joining to develop their building skills so as to be able to complete Stage 2 with new early learning spaces in the Sirr community.

Stage 2, two new timber framed learning spaces, was completed by the local workteam donating their labour and with minimal support from Bower Studio. The project proved the value of projects that upskill local workers and equip communities with the appropriate tools, materials and capacity to realise their own ambitions and aspirations. The project demonstrated that self-directed, local work teams are capable of building community facilities with minimal ongoing support from the Bower team and provided evidence that well-conceived support projects can have a strong role in the development of remote PNG villages.

Additionally, Stage 1 of the project provided the Bower team with the opportunity to revisit the neo-natal clinic and composting toilet constructed with the Suanum community in 2014 and again supported by the Australian High Commission Port Moresby Heads of Mission Direct Aid Program. The team found it very gratifying to hear that sixty-six healthy babies had been born here since the project was completed and see that the building remained in very good condition with only a few minor repairs required. Post occupancy evaluation forms a crucial stage for any well-conceived project and it was gratifying to see how well the facility was responding to the needs of the people in the community and how well it had withstood the harsh climate.

Bower Studio thanks the people of Munjun, Tumrawa, Suanum and Sirr for welcoming the team back to their community as well as the considerable work undertaken by the extensive local work team. It was a pleasure to work again with these communities.



Logos for Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Milwaukee Tools

Funding Agencies

  • Australian High Commission Port Moresby Heads of Mission Direct Aid Program
  • University of Melbourne John McIlwraith Fund

Project Partners

  • Milwaukee Power Tools
  • Natural Direction

Community Leaders

  • Deane Woruba
  • Hosea Rapson
  • Freddie Wiyang
  • Imelda and Peter Dumaiya
  • Bobby Mais
  • Loretta and Vincent Andvan
  • Ian Dumaiya
  • Campbell and Camilla Woruba
  • Helen Dumaiya
  • Ruth and Reuben Rapson
  • Jenny and Chris Ramengga
  • Frank Yaringa
  • Esau Nelson
  • Tom Kaneba
  • David Morgan
  • Daniel Dakemba

Studio Leaders

  • Dr David O’Brien
  • Deane Woruba
  • Heather Mitcheltree
  • James Neil
  • Ilari Lehtonen


  • Sasha Briner
  • Steph Clark
  • Michelle Curnow
  • Jess Gaudry
  • Alison Hammer
  • Daniel Kellett
  • Claire Kopietz
  • Al McDonald
  • Lachy McMullin
  • Hac Wang
  • Hannah Willoughby-Pearson
  • Stuart Yeap

Special thanks to Clyde King for his excellent ongoing support for the Bower Studio projects in Wewak Province since 2014.