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Prime Minister Julia Gillard and NRL CEO David Smith have met in Port Moresby today to launch a $4 million schools program which leverages Papua New Guinea’s fanatical support of Rugby League to develop educational opportunities for students.

Rugby League has gained local and international endorsement for its proven record in linking people’s love of the game to educational outcomes and PNG’s national obsession with the Greatest Game of All provides the foundations for a program that can make a real impact on people’s lives.

The Rugby League in Schools Pilot Program will improve the quality of education for girls and boys in Papua New Guinea through Rugby League related activities by:

Supporting up to 500 teachers to deliver in-class and on-field activities to up to 50,000 students, including social responsibility sessions;

Providing up to 100 resource kits and 500 teachers guides to 80 schools, including Rugby League-themed readers to improve reading and literacy;

Delivering improved school-based Rugby League activities in PNG.

The funding has been provided to Rugby League through the Australian Government’s Pacific Sports Partnership program co-ordinated through the Australian Sports Commission and AusAID.

Mr Smith said the program recognises the importance of Rugby League to the people of Papua New Guinea.

“I wish to thank the Australian Government for their support of a program that is at the heart of Rugby League’s commitment to linking sports participation with community development,” Mr Smith said.

“We know how passionate the people of PNG are about Rugby League and what the game means to their country.

“The impact programs such as Rugby League Reads have had in engaging students across Australia has been extraordinary and through Rugby League students in PNG will have the opportunity to improve their literacy skills and learn important health and social messages that will help them and their communities.”

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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