Student’s Foundation Helping People Read


By Madeline Whiting

A Townsville law student and his father are helping young people learn to read by sending donated books to their home country of Papua New Guinea.

James Cook University law student Kenneth Muke and his father say their inspiration was drawn from the learning conditions that Kenneth experienced while growing up in Papua New Guinea.

“We didn’t have books, it was really hard,” Kenneth says.

“When it came to English lessons we had to break down tenses like past tense and present tense and we didn’t even know what it was.”

Kenneth says that children are still having the same difficulties now and that is  why the book donations are so important.

“It’s really hard because back in my home country we have our own language so the kids grow up wondering ‘are we going to speak our native language or English?’” he says.

“It’s confusing but the books help you construct a sentence so it makes the process of learning English easier.”

The Rural School Library Foundation, which was founded by Kenneth and his father two years ago, collects books and is used as a distribution outlet to the schools in Papua New Guinea.

It has donated approximately 70 000 books to Papua New Guinean schools over the past two years.

With the assistance of local Townsville schools and libraries, the Rural School Library Foundation is collecting books at a very fast rate.

“The main idea about this is we are trying to start a catalogue and circulate the books,” Kenneth says.

“We got in contact with people from the Catholic Education so they are giving us books that they don’t want anymore from Catholic schools.”

The donations have provided much needed help to Papua New Guinea with enrollments increasing due to the prospect of learning English.

“There were only 50 kids in grade six at a particular school, but when the books went in, 50 increased to 150,” Kenneth says.


APPRECIATIVE SCHOOL: One of the schools that the books have been donated to.

APPRECIATIVE SCHOOL: One of the schools that the books have been donated to.

Papua New Guinea visitor Kaycee Fairbrother says that such contributions to the community can have a bigger effect than we realize.

“I think donations like these are fantastic as they not only help the students to reach essential educational milestones and goals, but they let the kids know that they are not alone and forgotten in the world,” Kaycee says.

“Right up in the hill communities of Papua New Guinea it’s like a whole other world.

“Most outside people like us do not get to go there because of the dangerous terrain, so the kids are shut off from the outside world.”

Kenneth hopes to expand his foundation nationally after already reaching out to schools and libraries in Ingham and the Hinchinbrook region.

To donate to the Rural School Library Foundation contact Dr. Charly Muke via email at or call 0497336064.