Saturday, April 27, 2013

Knowledge & Wealth

Professor Frank Griffin, Executive Dean of School of  Natural and Physical Sciences, reading our names of graduates in 2013 UPNG Graduation ceremony.
Getting a job in Port Moresby is a very competitive experience. A new graduate will need to take the advice that the degree or diploma is only the starting point, but having additional personal skills, marketable qualities, and highly motivational skills developed through one’s life can make getting a job easier.

The NCD Governor Honorable Powes Parkop, who was the keynote speaker in the afternoon session of the 2013 UPNG Graduation Day drove home a very powerful message of great wisdom and the direction taken by the current regime of O’Neill-Dion led government.

Governor Parkop said something like this: “Let’s not be a nation of job seekers; let’s be wealth creators and employment creators. Go back to the rural areas where land is and use the knowledge you gained to create wealth. The government is putting the money back in to rural areas for the purpose of creating wealth.”  Think about it.

It is time now for many of us to re-strategize our plans to find economic freedom and create wealth. Maybe we have been looking or heading in the wrong direction? In our rural communities there are many opportunities. I also think that starting technical and vocation colleges in our rural communities can drive such developmental agenda.

Governor Parkop’s UPNG graduation address touched on the very notion of growing wealth in our societies. Among the many things he said was that graduates must return to their villages and rural communities to put to good use the knowledge gained from their sixteen to seventeen years of study, culminating in the award of a degree from a recognized university. He said the degrees are only good if they are put to use in creating wealth.  

If their degree is only good for seeking jobs, then it is a tough and long road. It is important to move away from the job seekers mentality. Such mindsets have not served us well. We need to develop a mind of becoming millionaires through the creation of wealth in our communities. The good Governor was spot on.  

Professor Albert Mellam, UPNG Vice Chancellor sounded off a similar a note in his speech as well by challenging graduates to become responsible and productive citizens who will make their parents, families, communities, and country proud. Very appropriate challenge for any UPNG graduates during the graduation day. The Vice Chancellor’s speech was made with full knowledge that UPNG has produced some of the current crop of top leaders, who at one point were the student leaders of UPNG.
It is no surprise that the current Prime Minister Honorable Peter O’Neill, NCD Governor Honorable Powes Parkop, Defence Minister Honorable Fabian Pok, the Vice Chancellor Professor Albert Melllam, Honorable Kerenga Kua, Attorney General & Justice Minister, and Honorable Tommy Tomscoll, the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock are of the same cohort in their UPNG days.

Being part of the convocation of the University of Papua New Guinea I felt a certain moment of pride. Our cohort had come through with the promise that was had in the decade after Independence of the nation.

What marvels me is the witness of a triumphant journey of young people of this land trudging along, often presented with challenges, necessary and unnecessary, in their formative schooling years, through guts, sheer pride, and love of themselves, their families, and tribe. In whatever event, great or small they were faced with, the young people of our remarkable country often respond with unlimited enthusiasm to learn all they can and sponge the experience for the future of this country.

The hope that we as a nation have in our young people rests in what we have done to prepare, mentor, guide, shape, and lead them on to the platform of greatness. If we had done our part in the formation of our people to lead the nation in future then we can rest easy, but if we have not, then what can we do to bring them up that extra mile that many of us often expect from them. Often such expectations and criticisms, (of our graduates’ performance out in the real world), are made up by those who have not contributed to their growth and development as young people.

Attending every UPNG graduation is important to me. First it is part of my duties and responsibilities as an academic of the institution. Second it is the pride of my life as the institution that prepared me to be the person I am today. Third reason is that I am always proud to see my students graduate on that day because I know I have done my part in preparing them to go out there and contribute to the development of our beautiful country.  Being a witness to their moment of triumph, moment of glory, and moment of achievement brings me to the realization that I had given them a helping hand along the way here.

Celebrating with the tribe as it is good for the community.
I know the pride the family and tribe have on seeing one child graduate with a degree from the University of Papua New Guinea. Every graduation is a crowded affair with so many people turning up to witness the turning point in their child, relative, and tribesman’s journey. It is a moment of celebration. I sometimes think back to my own graduation only to hold back tears because I had only one cousin who attended my graduation because I was the only one and the first in my family and village to graduate from any university. All my people were too poor and could not afford to travel to witness my graduation.

It seems to me that the appeal issued by the NCD Governor for graduates to return to their villages to create wealth is worth every pint of salt now then before.

Educated members must return to their land with some business plans to plough, irrigate, and grow wealth on it.

It is not literarily about agriculture, but about using the land as the foundation for other wealth creation opportunities. 


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