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Lack of science education beginning to cause problems for PNG

Malakai TabarPNG Today

THE lack of students in science courses is being blamed for Papua New Guinea’s mining and petroleum sector being flooded with foreigners taking up top jobs.

This was disclosed by Higher Education Minister Malakai Tabar (pictured) this week at the PNG Human Resource Institute annual conference.

Mr Tabar said PNG lacks top scientists, engineers and professionals in graduate courses related to science and mathematics.

“I have received reports from tertiary institutions that that so many students are streaming to social science during their first year,” Mr Tabar said. “This is a concern when it comes to the human resources we need to develop this country.”

Mr Tabar said the number of science students in Grades 10 and 11 between 2010 and 2015 has dropped from 52% to 27%, a huge drop which reflects on teachers in secondary and primary schools and how they conduct lessons.

“It’s how students are taught back in the primary and secondary school that makes them lose interest in science,” he said, “and my department is looking at ways to beef up that area.”


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Raymond Sigimet

I can recall some years back, there was a Physics final year student at UPNG who was able to tap into rocket science and propulsion. The student built a miniature rocket with its own rocket fuel and went about doing a public demonstration of firing the rocket. The rocket did not stay up in the air for too long but it did fire up and launch itself from its holding area.

I read about this sometime ago and cannot recall now when this milestone event took place but this demonstrated the ability of young PNG scientists in the areas of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.

This particular student hoped that through his demonstration, the government (or interested science research organisations) would engage him and finance his research. Sadly, I believe his skills and knowledge in this area was too much (or perhaps irrelevant) and nothing materialise from this now forgotten milestone in student research in Physics (rocket science) for PNG.

I am interested if any reader is familiar with the events and the particular student, please share what has become of the student.

Michael Dom

Higher Education Minister Malakai Tabar (pictured) personifies the poor education system of PNG.

His boss, the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, embodies the virtues and practices of accounting in PNG.

These are the leaders we choose.

Well done.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Agree Marcus - that's one of the dumbest things I've heard a Higher Education Minister say.

Marcus Mapen

It hasn’t changed in 22 years, Daniel. Fact is, it’s worse now than before.

I advise this minister (and his department) to do a survey (or something of that nature) and determine the number of national science and mathematics professionals in PNG who either don’t have a job and/or are doing something other than their field of study because there are no jobs available for them in their field of study.

He then needs to seriously analyse the results and ask himself why.

Daniel Kumbon

On 20 October 1994, the story of a young Engan girl appeared in the Post Courier’s weekly magazine - Women Today.

The girl was looking for a job. Not that she didn’t have the qualifications but there was no job in the country for the type of work she had trained for.

She had graduated at an Australian university in aquatic resource management but there were no jobs with people with such rare qualifications in PNG.

Then the following month, on 17 November, the girl’s story appeared again in the Post Courier. This time she had found a job but not in her field of study.

But to her, any job was a job. She had to work to earn money to live in a fast growing city like Port Moresby. Her persistence and determination had paid off.

The girl is Leanne Clarke Takapin who was 21 at the time. She had just been offered a job by Independent Group – a major company involved in publishing, printing, marketing and consultancy.

When I caught up with her at work, she spoke clearly and sounded very happy to be working and thankful to her employers for taking her on. She was lucky indeed and a proud Engan.

Taken from an upcoming book produced by the newly formed Enga Writers Association ‘Can’t Sleep’ - a book of poems, satire, essays on Enga Culture and women in the province. Leanne Takapin’s story happened 22 years ago.

Marcus Mapen

This guy is the typical PNG government minister who doesn’t have a clue about what he is saying. No wonder this country is going backwards with ministers like him in government.

The real reason why there are fewer science students (and graduates) is because there are not enough jobs in this country for national science and mathematics professionals. He needs to get serious about his job and do more research before he opens his mouth again.

Albert Schram

One action that can easily be done is to bring back the scholarship for the Science and Maths teachers to upgrade their skills through distance learning with UNITECH's DODL. The program was discontinued in 2012, despite it being quite successful.

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