Education Feed

Simbu school debating contest is more than hot air

Audience 1
Audience members enjoy the debates and quizzes at a competition that started because of the unfriendly Simbu topography


KUNDIAWA - What started as a debating and quiz competition at Wandi Primary School due to lack of sporting facilities has developed into a successful annual event in the Kundiawa-Gembogl District of Simbu Province.

When teacher Fred Tovili, originally from West New Britain, was appointed as the school's sports coordinator, he could not organise sporting activities for the students because of the lack of suitable land.

Continue reading "Simbu school debating contest is more than hot air" »

Beijing uni will offer Tok Pisin & 6 other Pacific language courses


MELBOURNE - China is pushing for more university students
to study Pacific Island languages in a bid to bolster the
appeal of its trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative across
the region.

Seven Pacific Island languages will soon be available for study in
bachelors-level programs at the Beijing Foreign Studies University
(BFSU) including Tok Pisin, one of Papua New Guinea's official languages, as well as Samoan, Tongan, and Fijian.

The move comes as China continues to try and grow its diplomatic influence in the region, amid renewed efforts from Australia to "step up" its own engagement in the Pacific.

China's foreign ministry accuses Australia of acting like "a condescending master" in its relations with Pacific Island countries.

Continue reading "Beijing uni will offer Tok Pisin & 6 other Pacific language courses" »

Corruption, maladministration; & students who can be cleansers

Joe Kaowai and Albert Schram
Ex SRC president Joe Kaowai and vice-chancellor Dr Albert Schram - they tried to make UNITECH fly


Link here to read the complete version of the latest chapter of Dr Schram's memoir

VERONA - If we cannot root out the old mindset associated with corruption, whisper campaigns, tribal fights, political witch hunts and chief killings in Papua New Guinea’s universities, they will fail to produce active citizens and democratic leaders who respect the rule of law.

It had been a combination of a corrupt government and greedy and selfish staff that led to my hasty separation from the University of Technology (UNITECH) in Lae.

Corruption in PNG is systemic and enters into almost every transaction. Students understand that they are the only group in civil society able to force the government to clean up its act and prevent it from completely destroying state institutions by appointing political cronies and ignoring constitutional rights and the rule of law.

Continue reading "Corruption, maladministration; & students who can be cleansers" »

Dr Schram moves on - & pays tribute to one of his finest students

Mairen Manub
Mairen Manub

ALBERT SCHRAM | Life Is a Journey of Learning | Extract

Link here to read the complete version of the latest chapter of Dr Schram's memoir

“Our lives are a battlefield on which is fought a continuous war between the forces that are pledged to confirm our humanity and those determined to dismantle it; those who strive to build a protective wall around it, and those who wish to pull it down; those who seek to mould it and those committed to breaking it up; those who aim to open our eyes, to make us see the light and look to tomorrow [...] and those who wish to lull us into closing our eyes” - Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

In Memoriam - Mairen Manub, UNITECH student, 2012-2015

These words are dedicated to Mairen Manub who passed away on 8 August 2019 after a short battle with cancer in Port Moresby General hospital, which did not carry the principal medicines he needed. From 2012, he was one of the legendary 'little helpers', fighting tirelessly from for access to better education, and accountable and transparent university governance. There are so many stories about him, which we keep telling. We will never forget his wonderful personality, energy and intelligence but most of all his ability to bridge old and new, non-western and western worlds, based on shared humanity. We must find a way together to keep his memory alive.

VERONA - My start as a Papua New Guinea vice-chancellor in 2012 was far from auspicious. Due to political conflict in 2013 and my ban on re-entering the country, I spent a year in exile in Australia.

A few UNITECH Council member perceived their personal interests would be affected by my leadership and started a politically motivated persecution, apparently not concerned with the long-term reputation of the university and the country, and with total disregard for logic or their own dignity.

Continue reading "Dr Schram moves on - & pays tribute to one of his finest students" »

PNG schools now have greater access but lack quality, says NRI

Kilala Devette-Chee
Dr Kilala Devette-Chee


PORT MORESBY - Dr Kilala Devette-Chee of the National Research Institute's has told prime minister James Marape that despite the huge number of elementary and primary schools in Papua New Guinea, there is a scarcity of secondary and vocational schools.

Dr Devette-Chee said that while more students have an access to a basic education through 10,800 schools, there are only 330 available secondary and vocational schools.

She said the tuition fee free policy has greatly improved access to education but the quality is lacking and the government needs to immediately address this.

NBC News reports that Dr Kilala Devette-Chee revealed this after the latest of the NRI’s regular provincial and district education profiles.

More thought needed: Education fund can go beyond student loans

Patrick Kaiku


PORT MORESBY - The recent announcement by prime minister James Marape of the PNG government’s consideration of an endowment fund is a significant development initiative.

Presumably this fund operating through the Sovereign Wealth Fund will function like a loan scheme, a pool of resources available for Papua New Guineans to access to meet costs of their education.

This is not a new proposal. Former prime minister, Peter O’Neill in a 2015 speech at the 60th graduation at the University of Papua New Guinea made a similar commitment when he proposed the establishment of a K200 million fund for disbursing loans to tertiary students.

But simply using an endowment fund for tuition misses the point. It is a piecemeal approach that will fail to fix systemic problems confronting the state of tertiary level education in PNG.

Continue reading "More thought needed: Education fund can go beyond student loans" »

No heroes these wasted years: memoirs of a vice chancellor

Signing the charter to support student involvement at UNITECH. Dr Schram wanted to "create a real student-centred university"

ALBERT SCHRAM | Life Is a Journey of Learning | Extracts

Link here to read the complete version of the latest chapter of Dr Schram’s Papua New Guinea memoirs

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls” - Robert F Kennedy

VERONA - Papua New Guinean universities had been founded in colonial times as Australian universities, and were presented as a gift to the newly independent state in 1975.

Given the history of almost annual violent student protests and staff strikes, however, one can ask whether this gift was not a Trojan horse.

The concept of a university operating under the law, producing employable and competent graduates, offering opportunities for personal development and promoting active citizenship, remains utterly foreign.

Continue reading "No heroes these wasted years: memoirs of a vice chancellor" »

A Childhood Dream: Experiences of a vice chancellor in PNG

Albert Schram at home before leaving for PNG
Albert Schram at home  in the snow of Verona, Italy, before leaving for PNG


Dr Schram is publishing his biography, of which this is the first part, as a series of articles on his blog, ‘Life is A Journey of Learning

VERONA, ITALY - As Vice Chancellor of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (PNGUoT also sometimes called UNITECH), it was an extraordinary privilege for me to serve two terms, a total of more than six years, and this is my story.

The title of these blog posts is somewhat ironic, because as a child nobody can ever imagine becoming a vice chancellor or university president in Papua New Guinea. It cannot be anybody’s childhood dream, although it could have been mine.

While still very young, in fact I noticed how universities, such as those where my parents worked, were so badly managed. Therefore, over 10 years ago I made it my mission in life to improve this sad state of affairs, by providing transformational leadership and effective management.

The reconstruction of the story of my experiences in PNG is based on my 250 plus blog posts published earlier, and other publicly accessible materials, which readers can consult if they are interested in details.

While writing down these experiences today, I am preparing a book proposal about the future of higher education in developing countries, which is not exclusively based on my PNG experience, but also on my broader readings plus working and living in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean.

Continue reading "A Childhood Dream: Experiences of a vice chancellor in PNG" »

We need to invest in teachers to achieve quality education

Pawa Kenny Ambiasi
Pawa Ambiasi - "PNG has a problem delivering quality education because it has overlooked its teachers over the years"


PORT MORESBY - When he announced Joseph Yopyyopy as Papua New Guinea’s new education minister, prime minister James Marape said his government will continue the tuition fee free (TFF) education policy and add quality to it.

Managing TFF is one thing but quality education is what we need most in PNG society.  

A civilised society should be made up of well-educated people who apply the highest level of self-discipline, tolerance, respect for others and esteem for private and public institutions.

The sign at the entrance to the education department’s head office of in Waigani has the motto ‘Quality Education for Quality Citizens’, but, even though the motto has existed for some time, education standard continue to drop.

There is a very big gap in the learning of mathematics and science. Many students can’t understand what is taught in school. And many students cannot attain the scarce places in tertiary institutions.

So what is lacking? Is it policy? Is it money? Is it resources? No. We could have a silver coated TFF policy, money and resources but we would still have a problem with the quality of education.

Continue reading "We need to invest in teachers to achieve quality education" »

Dear Hon James Marape, I make a plea for an innocent man

Dr Albert Schram - "Last year he was gone and the evil won"


PORT MORESBY - I am not close to you to speak these words directly, so I make this humble request through PNG Attitude.

An innocent man was accused by power-hungry people who had made the University of Technology their cash cow before Dr Albert Schram’s term as vice-chancellor.

Dr Schram was accused on baseless grounds and the purpose of accusing him was to make Unitech a cash cow once again after he had gone.

Last year he was gone and the evil won.

I fought for change a student at Unitech from 2011 to 2014. The change I wanted to see slowly flowed in from Dr Schram’s arrival in 2013 and beyond.

Continue reading "Dear Hon James Marape, I make a plea for an innocent man" »

Making donations of books to empower our children

Donating books
Jordan Dean with some of the children to whom he has donated his own and other books


PORT MORESBY - Education is the only way to save the world.

If you want to combat incurable diseases, get a medical degree. If you want to defend people’s rights, go to law school.

If you want to discover new drugs, get a PhD in pharmacology. If you want organisations to work better, get an MBA.

A good quality education helps children reach their full potential; however for thousands of children in Papua New Guinea, access to educational books is a myth.

So meet three amazing ladies who initiated book donation drives to help educate underprivileged children.

Mary Fairio is a researcher with a passion for kids and a desire to make a difference in her West Papuan community living at the Rainbow refugee camp.

Continue reading "Making donations of books to empower our children" »

The final reel from my Papua New Guinea film collection


NEWCASTLE – This is the last video in the series of short films I shot in  Papua New Guinea in the early 1960s when I occasionally visited the then territory as part of my work as a lecturer at the Australian School of Pacific Administration.

The footage traverses quite a bit of country as it moves from Rabuana Primary School near Rabaul and a tabloid sports event, then Wau and Bulolo in the Goldfields and what was a lonely drive down the mountain to Lae, where I visited the impressive war cemetery.

Next we move to the highlands and Goroka (mispelled Goroko in the film’s caption) and finally to Wewak and its fine marketplace.

Thank you for watching these short videos, digitally reproduced by the people at the National Archives of Australia. I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

I particularly mention the students of mine from ASOPA and the E-Course students from Malaguna Teachers College with whom I am still in touch.

These people dedicated a major part of their lives to teaching in Papua New Guinea and I was fortunate enough to share some of their adventures,

The feedback I have received so far has been encouraging and rewarding, and I want to mention fellow ASOPA lecturer Dick Pearse was thrilled to see the Tubusereia segment in an earlier article.

Just a word of thanks to Keith Jackson for putting the films on PNG Attitude. I’m enjoying such a lot of reading there which is so interesting and well put together.

The entire series of 12 short films is now complete and you can fine all of them on YouTube at this link -

How Susan graduated after a 34 year fight to get a degree

Susan Wangjil and her father on campus
Newly graduated Susan Wangjil with her father on the campus of the University of Papua New Guinea


PORT MORESBY - It was a great relief when Susan Wangjil finally graduated with a science degree after 34 years of continuous education.

Susan is from Alkena village in the Tambul District of the Western Highlands Province and she graduated as a Bachelor of Science, majoring in biology, from the University of Papua New Guinea on 26 April.

She had started Grade 1 at Alkena Lutheran Community school back in 1986, and in 1995 completed Grade 10 at Tambul High School. But she did not receive an offer to progress to the next level of education.

Susan had no choice but to return to her family where she stayed for a year and said to herself that completing Grade 10 should not be the end of her education.

So, in 1997, she decided to enrol at the Mount Hagen College of Distance Education to improve her Grade 10 marks. The following year, she was accepted into Nazarene School of Nursing at Kudjip in Jiwaka Province.

Continue reading "How Susan graduated after a 34 year fight to get a degree" »

The main issues behind the decline in quality of PNG education


VICTORIA POINT, QLD - Phil Fitzpatrick asked in  PNG Attitude recently, ‘Education is the key: does anyone know what happened to it?

The prime minister of Papua New Guinea recently attributed the decline in the quality of education to curriculum changes instituted 10 years ago. This was an important factor, but only one of many.

I have a number of thoughts on the causes of decline, perceived or real.

The plan

Following the government’s commitment to the United Nation’s ‘Education for All’ push in the late 1980s and early 1990s there was disenchantment within the Department of Education over the large numbers of pupils whose educational opportunities were terminated at the end of Grades 6, 8 or 10.

Continue reading "The main issues behind the decline in quality of PNG education" »

Education is the key. Does anyone know what happened to it?

Trump and O'Neill
"If American and Papua New Guinean voters were better educated they might not have inflicted Trump and O’Neill on their respective nations"


TUMBY BAY - As Chris Overland and others have observed, Donald Trump is undoubtedly the worst president the United States of America has ever elected.

Chris calls him a serial liar and fraud, but he is worse than that. He is an existential threat to democracy, not only in the USA but in the whole world.

If you heaped up all the terrible leaders that currently hold sway in the world today he would surely sit on top of the smelly pile.

With that in mind it is instructional to consider what constitutes his supporter base.

Apart from the usual rabid neo-liberals his base largely comprises two main groups, those with poor educational backgrounds and those aligned with fundamentalist Christian groups. Quite often those two things go hand in hand.

If you look a bit closer at the aforementioned smelly pile you will probably notice Peter O’Neill sticking out from under Trump’s substantial right buttock.

Continue reading "Education is the key. Does anyone know what happened to it?" »

The uni that gives disability an equal chance – and succeeds

Frank Wonea (Kuman)
Frank Wonea
Clency Amos (Kuman)
Clency Amos


GOROKA - Despite all odds, two visually impaired students attending the University of Goroka have met Papua New Guinea government requirements and been awarded higher education scholarships.

Clency Amos and Frank Wonea are currently in their second and fourth (final) years respectively as self-sponsored students enrolled for Arts degrees in political science.

Both proved themselves capable among the many sighted students to attain excellent grades and win the scholarships from the Department of Higher Education.

“I’m very thankful that the government has provided this opportunity for me not only to enjoy but also to compete for the best this year and onwards,” said Clency Amos.

Continue reading "The uni that gives disability an equal chance – and succeeds" »

Innovative John Roka learning centre opens in Panguna

John Roka
The school is named for John Roka, a community leader who was assassinated during the Bougainville civil war. He is the father of author and entrepreneur Leonard Roka


PANGUNA, BOUGAINVILLE – Today we open the John Roka Memorial School and Child Counselling Centre, a new name and an expansion of the early childhood learning centre established in the Panguna area in 2014.

The institution's activities is not limited to children, counselling is provided to all ages indications so far show a need for family counselling as a main activity.

The staff are committed to accommodating the counselling needs of the community and also to assisting parents to become good home educators to develop our future human resources.

The school kicked off thanks to the taxpayers of Australia and it now has a permanent structure that houses two classrooms, a library, a counselling room and toilets.

We aim to make learning better by installing an e-library that will be accessible by students from the nearby primary school. One classroom will also have a computer and projector for multimedia learning.

The school's new curriculum will be completed in mid-year and fully implemented in 2020. With five years of operation already behind it, the school is on its way to break down the walls of illiteracy amongst the immediate population and beyond.

Continue reading "Innovative John Roka learning centre opens in Panguna" »

The downfall of educational laptops in rural Papua New Guinea

PNG kids & notebooksWAYAN VOTA | ICT Works | Edited

BERKELEY, USA - Back in the day, ‘One Laptop Per Child’ (OLPC) promised a digital revolution in education.

By handing out $100 laptops to children, and for the most part sidelining teachers, the organisers believed children would undertake learning on their own.

OLPC had massive media coverage, and for a while, it looked like it actually would revolutionize education.

I happened to be a major critic of the program, citing the need for teachers and school administrations to be involved with any educational effort that hoped to grow past pilot-itis.

In time, those of us who pointed out its failures were proved right. OLPC was a failure outside of a few special cases.

Continue reading "The downfall of educational laptops in rural Papua New Guinea" »

Universities should beware of ministers bearing (small) gifts

Matheson Library_0
Matheson Library at the PNG University of Technology in Lae


VERONA, ITALY - The recent visit by minister Richard Maru to the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (Unitech), where he donated a few hundred thousand kina in laboratory equipment may give the impression that everything is fine.

In fact, the opposite is true.

In Papua New Guinea, there have been four major student uprisings in the five years from 2012 to 2017, the result of endless government meddling in university council affairs.

As a result, for anyone interested in student protest, it has become the world’s number one place to be. If you want to lead a peaceful family life on campus, however, it is possibly not the preferred location.

Moreover, the overtly anti-foreigner attitude of the government, chancellors and many university staff members, as demonstrated by the recent persecution of foreign vice-chancellors and academics, is not conducive to a positive working environment.

Continue reading "Universities should beware of ministers bearing (small) gifts" »

The 30-year struggle of journalism education at USP

Wansolwara student journalists
Wansolwara student journalists on publication day at the University of the South Pacific

SHAILENDRA SINGH | Pacific Media Centre | University of the South Pacific | Edited

SUVA - The University of the South Pacific’s recent 50th anniversary also marked 30 years of existence for its regional journalism program.

In an eventful journey, the program has weathered military coups, overcome financial hardships and shrugged off academic snobbery.

Funded by the Commonwealth, the program started in Suva in 1988 with a handful of students. Since then it has produced more than 200 graduates serving the Pacific and beyond in various media and communication roles.

USP journalism graduates have won awards, started their own media companies and taken over positions once reserved for expatriates in regional organisations.

Continue reading "The 30-year struggle of journalism education at USP" »

Amea’s story: Building a village school out of nothing

Amea Basel
Amea Basel - worked with fellow villagers to build the self-sufficient OKA school


Having wisdom and understanding is better than having silver or gold. It is good to have nice things, but there are very few things in life that can never be taken away, and education is one of them (Proverbs 16:16)

PORT MORESBY - The journey that changed my view of life started when I joined Youth With a Mission PNG (YWAM PNG) as a general volunteer on their third outreach for 2019 to the Gulf and Western Provinces of Papua New Guinea.

The journey was an eye-opener for me, a Papua New Guinean who has spent most of my life in the city and in other more developed provinces than Gulf and Western.

During the second week of outreach I was at Korovake Village in the Baimuru District when I met Amea Basel, a tremendous young Gulf Province woman.

Her story changed my life.

It got me thinking, ‘what am I doing for my country?’

Continue reading "Amea’s story: Building a village school out of nothing" »

Recalling gentleman Jim Humphreys & his applied mathematics

Jim's new maths made a short appearance in the School Paper when KJ was editing it. "It took months to get the article to Jim's satisfaction," Keith recalls. "But it still confused everyone."


MELBOURNE – I feel sure that Jim Humphreys would be horrified that anyone would recall his impact on more than a few Papua New Guinean and expatriate primary school teachers during the late 1960s.

For the most part, Jim was a private, reserved and self-contained chap, not given to Friday nights and weekends in pubs or clubs or parties.

Outside of working hours, he kept much to himself. He was, indeed, something of an enigma.

That said, he was, for a short few years, a valued colleague and mentor.

Jim achieved prominence in the PNG primary education sphere when he was anointed by Education Director, Ken McKinnon, to champion the implementation of the ‘new maths’ through the application of TEMLAB: the Territory Mathematics Laboratory.

Physically, TEMLAB was a boxed set of lesson plans and teaching apparatus comprising attribute blocks: a collection of wooden pieces in various shapes, sizes, colours and thickness which were designed (if I remember correctly) to provide a logical underpinning to the teaching and learning of mathematics.

Continue reading "Recalling gentleman Jim Humphreys & his applied mathematics" »

BCL supports the improvement of teachers in Bougainville

Staff and Students in Uniforms (BCL)
Staff and students at St Therese Sipatako Primary School

ERIC TAPAKAU | Bougainville Copper Ltd

BUKA - More than 400 primary school teachers are now equipped to bring the transformative benefits of a standards-based curriculum to Panguna and Kieta District classrooms in central Bougainville.

Bougainville Copper was delighted to support the Bougainville government’s education department in providing a week of intensive training for 380 teachers at Tupukas, Arawa and St Therese Sipatako primary schools.

The company contributed K80,000 as part of its broader community investment program. Chairman Sir Mel Togolo said the move to standards-based training was about putting in place the best possible structures to support the learning and development of our children.

“The training is essential to building the necessary capacity among our teachers to bring to life standards-based education in their classrooms,” Sir Mel said.

Continue reading "BCL supports the improvement of teachers in Bougainville" »

Schools of business are connected in a virtual classroom

Viral classroom (Davidson)
Students participate in the 'virtual classroom' at Sonoma school of business


PORT MORESBY - Last Friday, the dream of virtual learning became reality when two schools of business in Papua New Guinea were connected by video conferencing.

The schools at Sonoma Adventist College and Pacific Adventist University adopted video conferencing after Dr Khin Maung Kyi of PAU received funding from the South Pacific Division of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

A donation of more than K250,000 was provided to purchase equipment and Douglas Rinny, an information technology specialist from PAU, recently came to Sonoma College to install the equipment to enable video conferencing.

The launch linking the two business schools occurred in the presence of students and staff with Dr Khin speaking about the opportunities available through modern technology to make learning more accessible and user-friendly.

Continue reading "Schools of business are connected in a virtual classroom" »

Australian university introduces first ever course in Tok Pisin


CANBERRA - An online undergraduate course in Tok Pisin has been introduced by the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific this year.

Tok Pisin is an official language of Papua New Guinea and is the most commonly and widely used language in the country with about four million native speakers.

The College says that by learning Tok Pisin, students will gain a deeper understanding of the rich cultures, histories and societies of the people of PNG and surrounding areas of the Pacific.

In this introductory course, students gain a practical command of beginner spoken Tok Pisin and an elementary capacity to read various types of texts in Tok Pisin with the help of a dictionary.

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The O’Neill regime is dumbing down a whole generation


PORT MORESBY - High profile journalist Scott Waide’s recent article about the high cost of his daughter’s university fees highlights a conundrum Papua New Guinea faces in terms of the quality of its education system.

Scott was shocked about the high cost. But let us reflect on what is a major crisis in the sector.

When the O’Neill government introduced the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) education system for primary and secondary schools, it failed to account for capacity constraints.

Schools were flooded and schools lacked and continue to lack learning resources, infrastructure and staff numbers to cope with the influx.

Continue reading "The O’Neill regime is dumbing down a whole generation" »

Albert Schram – after the venality of PNG, gratefully moving on

Schram case PC 29 JanALBERT SCHRAM

On Tuesday, after six months, the allegation of “false pretence” concerning Dr Schram’s PhD credentials was thrown out of the Port Moresby magistrate’s court for lack of evidence. Presiding magistrate A Kalandi struck out the case against Dr Schram and discharged him. But Mr Kalandi ordered that Dr Schram forfeit K2,000 bail for not appearing in court and stated he could be arrested if he returned to Papua New Guinea.

The academic had good reasons for not appearing. As he writes on his blog, he had been “in a no-win situation, unable to prove my innocence after being falsely accused, wrongfully dismissed, maliciously prosecuted and unlawfully detained”. You can read Dr Schram’s full account here. What follows is an extract about the life he and his wife Paulina are now leading in his hometown in Italy.

VERONA - Many readers have asked how we are doing after this ordeal. Today, I have moved on.

I feel relieved to be free from those terrible dishonest colleagues, all professed Christians, who unhesitatingly first knowingly falsely accused me, then threw me under the bus, and never again reached out or said or wrote a word to me (with only a few exceptions).

They must be experts in betrayal, since Jesus himself was betrayed by his own disciples.

It really pains me we won't be able to see the many good friends we have made in over six years living among the good people of Papua New Guinea. I can only come back to the country, if all charges are dropped and all costs and damages that my family and I suffered are reimbursed.

Continue reading "Albert Schram – after the venality of PNG, gratefully moving on" »

Unstoppable youth crime is destroying our social fabric

Kundiawa market
Kundiawa market


KUNDIAWA - Deviant behaviour is defined as behaving contrary to or outside the moral and ethical guidelines or rules in society. Deviants are people who break rules and often act abnormally.

Deviant youths are manipulators who con others; they tell lies, cheat, are aggressive and violent, and steal. They involve themselves in crime because they don’t know the difference between lawful and unlawful, right and wrong, moral and immoral.

Juvenile delinquency associated with drug abuse is a serious problem that undermines the fabric of our society. We live in constant fear that our security is at risk because there is no social cohesion, customary laws and morality to control the aggressive behaviour of young people.

Continue reading "Unstoppable youth crime is destroying our social fabric" »

A teacher’s influence


As a stone creates ripples on a lake,
So a teacher’s creates ripples,
In a student’s life.

Influence subtle and powerful,
To change thinking and life,
And mold profoundly.

Like a surgeon, the teacher,
Cuts minds with wisdom’s scalpel,
To light the intellect’s ancient fire.

In darkened minds a blazing light,
In tender hearts a longing hunger,
To satisfy the thirst for knowledge.

Continue reading "A teacher’s influence" »

Trouble on campus as UPNG hierarchy is swept aside

New vice-chancellor Kenneth Sumbuk - unions question integrity and credibility

STAFF REPORTER | Pacific Media Centre

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea’s Trade Union Congress has slammed the appointments of Jeffrey Kennedy as chancellor and Kenneth Sumbuk as vice-chancellor of the University of Papua New Guinea.

The Post-Courier newspaper reported TUC president John Paska as saying the congress initially welcomed an announcement to investigate administrative malpractice and other aspects of the university but these two appointments now question the credibility of the exercise.

He said this was a governance issue which attracted public attention and commentary.

“With the stroke of a pen [higher education] minister Pila Niningi has turned what appeared to be a step in the right direction into a farcical exercise denigrating it into a comical show piece,” Paska said.

Continue reading "Trouble on campus as UPNG hierarchy is swept aside" »

Empathy & collaboration key to shared global growth & prosperity

Davis Cousar
Davis Cousar

DAVIS COUSAR | Independent Mail

ANDERSON, SOUTH CAROLINA USA - It was 9 pm Monday in Australia’s Brisbane airport, and we were headed to Papua New Guinea for the 2018 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.

The seven of us, all Furman University students and faculty, had been travelling for two days and were looking forward to getting our bags and checking into our hotel to take a warm shower, change clothes and sleep before our flight to PNG the next morning.

We waited at baggage claim for our luggage … and waited … and waited. Our bags didn’t appear. The woman at the service desk said our bags were nowhere to be found, but she assured us they would be located and placed on the next flight to PNG.

As it turns out, when we arrived the next afternoon, our bags weren’t there.

The APEC Summit began in 1989 as an informal meeting between 12 Asia-Pacific economies seeking to increase trade and collaboration in the region. Today, APEC consists of 21 Pacific-Rim economies that work together to create inclusive and sustainable growth.

Continue reading "Empathy & collaboration key to shared global growth & prosperity" »

Unitech - a unique experiment in replicating ignorance

Kondom Agaundo
Kondom Agaundo's grave - the words above the tombstone read, 'Tomorrow my sons & daughters will come'. Even in the 1960s Kondom knew a good education was essential for a good future


VERONA, Italy - When I was vice chancellor of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (known as Unitech) from 2012 to 2018, we worked hard to bring it into the 21st century.

The current management and university council, however, seem to be making an effort to bring the university back to its roots in the 1970s, whether intentionally or through sheer ignorance, incompetence or carelessness.

It is a sad tale of regression which forces me to speak out in an effort to reverse this trend.

The current chancellor Jean Kekedo apparently has a great nostalgia for the 1970s and has remarked several times that she wants to go back to those simpler times.

She believes no member of the university staff should travel abroad and that meetings and agreements can be done remotely through video-conferencing.

Of course, for council members and their friends, exceptions are made, but they can travel only to Australia. It is unclear why this is so, but Ms Kekedo also seems to feel she does not need to explain her decisions.

Continue reading "Unitech - a unique experiment in replicating ignorance" »

English proficiency is a necessity not a luxury in PNG


ADELAIDE - I recently read Bill Bryson’s ‘The Mother Tongue: English and how it got that way’, which provides a very readable and amusing account of the development of the English language.

It is fair to say that the emergence of English as the foremost international language of business, science and culture is one of history’s more improbable occurrences.

After all, English as we now understand it did not really exist until around 1500 and was, at that time, spoken only by a quite small number of people living on an utterly unimportant island off the coast of Europe.

Through a series of unlikely events that small island emerged as the greatest imperial power in history. At the zenith of its power (around 1913), the British Empire encompassed about 23% of the world’s population and about quarter of the world’s land mass.

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English language declines as education system fails


KUNDIAWA - Papua New Guinea is a country of a thousand tribes and languages. It has countless stories, myths, legends and ballads telling of the value of life from the past to the present.

But a poor literacy rate is having a drastic effect on the present and threatens to be even worse in the future.

During the days of our forefathers there was no culture of reading. However there was a culture of narrating and listening, and the great orators and wise leaders – although unable to read and write - passed on the wisdom orally from one generation to the next.

In an illiterate society, their accounts were valuable but could never be verified by the written word, which is now the norm in PNG.

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Tok Pisin breaks through as ANU offers it as a subject

DictionaryPAUL OATES

GOLD COAST - Finally, could it be that there is some light at the end of a very long tunnel.

I have previously written to Federal and State governments about the desirability for Papua New Guinea’s main lingua franca, Pidgin English (or Tok Pisin), to be listed as an optional subject taught in our school’s along with Indonesian, Mandarin and Japanese.

After consistently being rejected at all levels of government from the Gillard school curriculum review to state government education department level, there suddenly seems to have been a breakthrough in common sense.

On page 28 of yesterday’s The Australian newspaper in the higher education section, there appeared Sean Powell’s article ‘Want to speak Tok Pisin? ANU offers more regional languages.’

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The cruel caning of Bot of Kambot

Eware VillageED BRUMBY

MELBOURNE – “I still find it hard to think of kiaps caning people. Teachers yes but not kiaps.”

So pondered Peter Salmon in his commentary on Tobias Schoerer’s article, ‘Kiaps repressed warfare, they did not repress the peoplepublished recently in PNG Attitude.

My initial response was one of mild annoyance: Why would someone think that kiaps, those doyens of authority, would not use a cane to assert said authority while teachers would?

Nevertheless, Peter’s assumption that teachers would use a cane is eminently understandable.

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Where ‘removing the foreigner’ is preferred to embracing change

John Warren (2)
John Warren - 'In developing countries, working in the higher education sector as an individual is a high-risk game'

JOHN WARREN | Times Higher Education | Extract

LONDON - There are no doubt some people who will regard the very idea of a Westerner running a university in the developing world as a form of neo-colonialism.

But having recently returned from being the vice-chancellor of a small university in Papua New Guinea – a country previously ruled by the UK, Germany and Australia – my concerns are not so much that I left a poisonous long-term legacy as that my legacy of introducing basic quality assurance will not endure at all.

Landing such a position is hard enough. They are not always openly advertised. All too frequently, senior management positions are political appointments, with any thought of an overseas appointment being headed off by anti-immigration rhetoric.

If you nevertheless receive a warm welcome, that warmth is unlikely to endure long.

Chief executives are not employed to be everyone’s friend. They are paid to make difficult decisions, which frequently involve treading on a few toes. The more broken the institution, the more squashed toes there will be.

In the developed world, university leaders are compensated (many would argue over-compensated) for the risks and stresses associated with taking difficult decisions. But those taking on the job in the developing world will probably experience a drop in real income. Fortunately, money is not everyone’s main motivator.

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A candid history of the Unitech controversy - Part 2

Albert Schram in Singapore
Albert Schram at Singapore Airport after escaping detention on trumped up charges in Papua New Guinea. His arrest caused an international scandal and seriously dented PNG's reputation


LAE - The University of Technology, Unitech, was very much affected by the events surrounding the advent, stormy passage and eventual dismissal of vice chancellor Dr Albert Schram.

Prior to the appointment of Schram in 2011, Unitech was known to be in a bad shape and led by a corrupt regime. Schram’s arrival in 2012 provided hope that a change in leadership would lead to a change in the university’s fortunes.

But from the start the Schram era was hampered by resistance from elements of the former corrupt regime both within and outside Unitech as there was a succession of moves to try to get rid of the vice chancellor.

Students and members of the university community fought against this. Then Schram was effectively deported when he wasn’t allowed to return to PNG after holidays in early 2013. In the leadership vacuum, a loyal interim team was formed to administer the university.

The moves against Schram had continued even though a government enquiry under retired judge Sevua cleared him of allegations about ‘fake’ credentials even as it identified irregularities in the former regime.

A cloud of uncertainty hung over the institution and, even as the reform process continued, there was much anxiety. Nevertheless, changes were made and the year ended successfully.

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A candid history of the Unitech controversy - Part 1

Schram's triumphal return (PNG Blogs)
Dr Albert Schram returns in triumph to Unitech in 2014 after being kept out of the country by the PNG government on grounds never disclosed


LAE – The PNG University of Technology (Unitech) experience of a new expatriate vice-chancellor seeking to introduce needed reforms to an important institution lasted for six years.

It began in 2012 and ended earlier this year and is referred to either as a ‘crisis’ or just a ‘fight’ depending on which side the speaker stands.

My account seeks to portray the truth as one of those who fought to bring change for the betterment of the university. My discussion will be blunt because the face of truth should not be twisted to deviate from the essence of what occurred. Some people will feel disturbed but the truth will always remain the truth.

It’s 2012 and in early April the University Council attempts to terminate Dr Albert Schram, the newly-appointed vice-chancellor. Students and staff associations protest to prevent this occurring. An interim management team is installed to assist the vice-chancellor.

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Regionalism & tribalism, not nationalism, at many PNG schools

Sogeri national high school students in their computer lab - experiencing a sense of national identity often not observed in other types of secondary school where regionalism and tribalism reign


GOROKA - The group of teenagers from Bougainville, the New Guinea Islands, Momase and the Highlands - their yellow and green uniforms indicating they were students - chit-chatted, took selfies, giggled and did the things teenagers do.

We were in the boarding lounge at Jackson's Airport in Port Moresby sitting and waiting for our flight to be announced.

The students were taking shots, hugging and even crying for each other. Among them, a New Ireland girl tried to comfort her sobbing Highlander girlfriend. Elsewhere, three coastal boys queued up for Wewak and Vanimo left their line to hugged the Highlands boys waiting for the Goroka and Hagen flights.

The Sepik boys said, "Plis noken lus tingtig lo plan blo yumi" (Please, don't forget our plans). I didn’t hear what their plan was but, yeah, that was it. I also wondered why these students were on a mass flight in October when they should still be in class.

At the next boarding call, I joined the Goroka-bound passengers and exited the boarding lounge for flight PX 160.

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PNG promotes big money APEC; youth builds grassroots resilience

SKILLZ PNG participants during a session (YWCA PNG)
SKILLZ PNG participants during a working session (YWCA PNG)

PAULINE MAGO-KING | Pacific Media Centre

The countdown to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea is well underway. As the PNG government finalises preparations for this high-level meeting next month, instability is growing from pressing development issues. But, reports Pauline Mago-King of Asia Pacific Journalism, some of the youth are committed to strengthening their country’s resilience.

AUCKLAND - The reoccurring theme in bridging various social gaps remains to be sensitisation for young people.

For Papua New Guinea, issues ranging from gender relations to health have worsened over the years, making them a norm for the people.

While the PNG government buckles down for the APEC summit, polio has emerged, tuberculosis persists due to multidrug resistance, and violations of human rights are ever-present as in cases like that of the Paga Hill villagers struggle.

Papua New Guinea’s progress may seem obscure. However, this should not overshadow the mobilisation of young Papua New Guineans at the community level.

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An appeal to readers on behalf of PNG's disrespected teachers

Sharmilla Pisap
Sharmilla Pisap, a teacher who was paid just K7 last fortnight. You can assist her and others [see below]

LUCY KOPANA | My Land, My Country | Edited extract

LAE - Mrs Sharmilla Pisep is a teacher who has been serving for 31 years.

She is a mother of five and a single parent. Any student who has been taught by her, or come across her, knows how much of an active and committed teacher she is.

Sadly, she’s one of many teachers in Papua New Guinea who’ve been affected by the teachers’ pay cut problem. Last fortnight she was paid only K7.

She told me how much of a burden this is for her, and how it has greatly affected her family.

I thought of my mother, who spent 30 years teaching until she retired in 2007. Day in and day out, my siblings and I watched her being both a mother and a teacher to us and to her students.

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Pacific storytelling with a focus on ignored & ‘untold’ issues

PMC-team (Craig Major)
Some of the Pacific Media Centre team (from left): Sri Krishnamurthi, Blessen Tom, Leilani Sitagata, Assoc Prof Camille Nakhid, Prof David Robie and Del Abcede


AUCKLAND - Based at Auckland University of Technology, the Pacific Media Centre is a small team dedicated to telling stories from across the Pacific that you won’t read anywhere else.

Established in 2007 by Professor David Robie in AUT’s School of Communication Studies, the centre focuses on postgraduate research projects and publications that impact on indigenous communities across the Pacific.

“We’re a small team, but the scope of what we cover is phenomenal,” Dr Robie explains. “As researchers and reporters, we look at the repercussions that big issues like climate change, human rights violations and press freedom have on these small communities in the Asia-Pacific region.”

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Keeping it simple - the importance of the KISS principle

Kiss-principleCHRIS OVERLAND

ADELAIDE - During my working life, I succeeded in rising from the complete anonymity of small town, rural Australia to the very heights of provincial bureaucratic obscurity. History will not treat me kindly or unkindly: my efforts simply will be studiously ignored.

My five-year sojourn in Papua New Guinea was, in the grand scheme of things, simply a diversion in a career that followed an almost entirely unplanned path through the byzantine byways of the South Australian public service.

In my travels, I spent some time (1975–79) as an employee of the Education Department, rising to the exulted heights of chief clerk. This grandiose title camouflaged the fact that I was a mere petty bureaucrat amongst many others but it sounded good on my curriculum vitae, which was a plus.

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Education has lost its way in curriculum wrangles & teacher quality

ClassroomJOE KUMAN

GOROKA - The diminishing educational standards of Papua New Guinea are of grave concern to citizens and stakeholders with the outcome-based curriculum (OBE) adopted a decade or so ago continuing to be blamed for this.

The talk now is of a standard based education/curriculum rescue package, which – if adopted - will surely take a time equal to the lost decade to recover the situation. This means that PNG might see quality and affordable education system in maybe 20 years.

I am of the view that there is no problem with either curriculum. OBE was fine in theory and design but not in practice. The implementers (teachers) were not ready for, nor receptive to, the change. And they were defeated psychologically by the foreign concepts and terms used.

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It’s a jungle. Teaching English to students in rural schools

St John Bosco Secondary School students  Dagua
St John Bosco Secondary School students at Dagua listen to presentations on Independence Day 2018 (Raymond Sigimet)


DAGUA - In my first year of teaching at a rural high school, I set a narrative writing task for students to complete and hand over for marking.

Without much thought about the task and looking forward to reading the students work, I got the shock of my life as I began to read the first paper. It was an unexpected moment and caught me off guard and unprepared.

It was like I was reading a mishmash of English words or something similar to the English language.

I checked the second paper in the pile, the third and the fourth and my spirit and self-esteem took a nose dive and crashed.

Every piece of writing had English words (some incorrectly spelt) but I quickly got lost in the structure and semantics.

At my second posting, I had a similar experience. Most of the students were from a rural feeder primary school and surrounding villages. My experience by then was that, of a class of 40 or 50 students, there would be less than five who had a suitable command of English, especially in writing.

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PNG still struggles to get its education reforms right

De la Salle Secondary exams
Students at De la Salle Secondary School during their Grade 12 mathematics examination


DAGUA - In May this year, national education secretary Dr Uke Kombra announced that 72,000 Grade 10 students would sit their English written expression examination on 7 June.

Examinations would be conducted in 322 provincial high and secondary schools across Papua New Guinea, an increase from last year’s 69,000 students in 301 schools.

Next month, from 8-12 October, Grade 10 students from all over the country will sit for the Lower Secondary School Certificate Examinations (LSSCE) set by the Measurement Service Division.

The LSSCE is an outcome-based education (OBE) reform which phased out the previous ‘objective’ School Certificate Examinations (SCE) about eight years ago.

In 2010, under the OBE reform, once non-examined subjects became nationally tested subjects alongside the four traditional English, Mathematics, Science and Social Science.

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Schram says PNG is compromising university independence

Dr Albert Schram


NOOSA - Former of University of Technology vice-chancellor, Albert Schram, said the PNG Higher Education Act of 2014 had “laid the basis for a fundamental change in university governance” and that this had helped create the conditions in which he was dismissed from his job.

“I warned about this before in a lecture at the Australian National University in 2016, but nothing was done,” Dr Schram said.

“Only independent universities, can protect academic freedom and freedom of expression. Democracies cannot thrive without independent universities and vice-versa.”

He had previously told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program that there was an orchestrated campaign to have him removed from his job at Unitech at a time the university was given a clean bill of financial health for the first time in 20 years.

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'Threats & untruths': Former UNRE boss accuses chancellor

In a statement sent to students and staff at PNG’s University of Resources and Environment, former vice-chancellor Professor John Warren has responded from his home in Wales to what he terms a “grandiose" and “untrue” letter from interim chancellor Professor Kenneth Sumbuk and revealed the story behind his resignation from the university. Warren also calls into question the truth of an interview given by PNG's head of higher education, Father Jan Czuba. 

John Warren
Professor John Warren - "The most important untruth in the letter of 13 August is Professor Sumbuk’s claim that he did not threaten me"


LLANFARIAN - In his letter to you [UNRE students and staff] dated 13 August 2018, the chancellor of UNRE made several untrue statements that I feel compelled to clarify so that you have an honest and full picture of events surrounding my departure from the university.

[Professor Sumbuk’s] letter opens with rather grandiose statements about my breaching my oath of office. Unfortunately, history reveals that university councils within Papua New Guinea have a poor track record of understanding their role.

The 2010 Garnaut and Namaliu report on the state of PNG universities and the 2013 external audit of UNRE both emphasise that PNG’s university councils do not understand governance.

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Fred Hargesheimer’s legacy lives on in the Nakanai region

Richard Hargesheimer and his wife Christy surrounded by students and teachers of Nantabu, where new teachers’ housing will be built


KIMBE – Seventy-five years after he was shot down and rescued, and eight years after his death, the Airmen’s Memorial Foundation established by Fred Hargesheimer is still honouring his legacy.

The latest act of benevolence came this week with a ground-breaking ceremony at Nantabu Village in West New Britain, the village where Fred Hargesheimer was sheltered and nursed back to health.

The foundation’s newest development is to build teachers’ housing at the village school, a project that will cost K100,000.

The ceremony was attended by Fred’s son, Richard Hargesheimer, who travelled from Lincoln, Nebraska to administer his late father’s legacy.

“It is a great honour to return once again to West New Britain to serve the people that saved my father’s life,” Richard Hargesheimer said.

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