Saturday, April 26, 2014

University Reaching Out

I have been teaching in the University of Papua New Guinea since 1992 that part of the growth of the university was unnoticed until I was given a tour of the university operations in the Yangoru Sausia electorate of the East Sepik Province.

The Yangoru Sausia Electorate has the support of the Member, Honorable Richard Maru in bringing the University of Papua New Guinea operations to the district and ward level in the strategic locations in the Electorate.

The first official opening of the Kanauki University Centre was done at the Kubalia High School in 2013. At that time the late Executive Director of the UPNG Open College, Professor Samuel Haihuie, worked very hard to establish this sub-centre of the University of Papua New Guinea.

The Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Honorable David Arore gave the official speech and opened the centre together with the Member for Yangoru Sausia Electorate.

I was there for the opening as the Vice Chancellor’s representative for the official opening.

A year later I was given a tour of the Kanauki University centre’s operations in the Yangoru Sausia Electorate.

Mr. Brian Waranduo, the Director for the Kanauki University Centre drove me through electorate. We stopped on the Sepik Highway several times to give information packages to students of the Kanauki University Centre. One of the stops we made was at the new site at Tangori for the Kanauki University Centre. The Tangori site is one of the several sites where the Kanauki University Centre would coordinate the UPNG programs.

Mr. Waranduo’s office is at the Kanauki University Centre in Yangoru station itself. It is a very impressive set up on the hill looking down the plateau and field at the station. The Yangoru set up is very active with students hanging around the centre on our arrival. I was introduced to the students. We talked about the importance of UPNG reaching out to students in rural communities of PNG, more specifically to the students of Yangoru Sausia Electorate.

Yangoru Sausia Electorate is fortunate to have the University of PNG subcentre established; thanks to the Member and Minister for Commerce, Trade, and Industry, Hon. Richard Maru, who is doing an excellent job in bringing much needed services, including accessible higher education opportunities to the Electorate.

Mr. Waranduo explained to me that the UPNG operations in the Yangoru Sausia Electorate was challenging in itself because it covers very mountainous and vast areas unreachable by modern transport. Mr. Waranduo is very adept and has a natural public relations skill that makes it useful in dealing with people of all manners in a difficult situation like the one in the Electorate.

At the Kanauki University Centre in Yangoru, Mr. Waranduo gave me some documents detailing the establishment and operations of the Kanauki University Centre.

Minister Maru’s plan was to establish five (5) study centres for Kanauki University Centre. On the 19th of November 2013, the Honorable Tommy Tomscoll, Member for Middle Ramu and Minister for Agriculture, witnessed the official opening of the East Yangoru Study centre.

The five study centres are established in the following areas: Kubalia High School, Tangori Numbo, Nagam SDA High School, Yangoru station, and the Wingei Primary School centre. The need for higher education in the Yangoru Sausia Electorate is high that the University is looking at expanding its operations under the directorship of Mr. Brian Waranduo.

Since the establishment of the Kanauki University Centre in early 2013 a total of 181 youths sat for entry test in basic maths and English, of which 123 scored 50% and above in basic maths or English or both and are eligible to register for Certificate in Tertiary and Community Studies (CTCS) programme. Enrolments in second semester 2013 increased to 300 plus students.

Some of the students I met at the Yangoru study centre are already pursuing degree studies while living and working in the electorate. Among the many students I met during the trip I cannot help remembering a stop we made at the Paparom Village to talk to a policeman based at Tangori police station.

He was one of the students pursuing his studies at the Kanauki University centre. Without the university establishment in the Electorate he would not have been given the opportunity to study at UPNG. In his middle ages and with so much work at his time he somehow found time to enroll at the Kanauki University Centre for degree studies.

Mr. Waranduo said he enjoys his work very much, but the challenges he faces are formidable. He needs a fullly furnished and equipped administrative centre with fully funded support staff such as tutors, secretaries and a handy man. The director also needs a permanent house to reside in in the course of performing his duties.

Mr. Waranduo knows where to take the university to in the district, but he needs more funding and support from UPNG Open College administration. Right now he is doing a wonderful job with the little money he was given to run the centre under the joint agreement between UPNG and the Member for Yangoru Sausia Electorate, Honorable Richard Maru.

Traveling with Mr. Waranduo to talk to the many students enrolled in the UPNG Kanauki University centre operations in the Yangoru Sausia Electorate I am touched with the genuine desire many of people from the electorate have in pursuing higher education in order to participate equally and meaningfully in the development of their electorate as well as the nation.

I think that with the UPNG reaching all the way down to the Electorates and LLGs the education of Papua New Guineans can reach an unprecedented level. One need not leave the village or the district to get necessary higher education and qualifications.

The government should think about subsidizing fees for students enrolled in these university centres.

I am so proud to be associated with both the University of Papua New Guinea’s efforts to bring education to the village level where many of our disadvantaged people live.

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