The Lonely Classroom

By Choloe Jamlal

Breeze blows right across the room. The fans spin in a clockwise direction with a swish, swish sound. A desk feels rough with gravity all over and the chair feels comfortable to lean on. Pens are so inky just suitable to write on a clean page of an exercise book.

Classroom is so noisy when students chit-chat all period. It’s really hard to concentrate but when the teacher comes, the place seems quiet. The presence of the teacher provides a noise less environment to study. At last, the ears hear only the wind and the mind focus in reading.

The sun shines through the door and windows. The area outside is so brown on the ground. The classroom walls are green and the environment at the back of the classroom is more greenish. The trees provides shade over the tyres of the drive way, every recess and lunch hour. When the bell rings, there would be footsteps and voices everywhere. That is the only time to meet friends.

There would be study period every afternoon, sitting inside the classroom flipping through pages of every exercise book, reading and noting main points. It seems so quiet but from a silence the principal pages home time. Pack all books and stationeries inside the bag and put all chairs over the desks. The duty monitors sweep the whole room, then switch off the lights and turn-off the fans. When the doors shuts, the classroom is lonely and empty!

*Choloe is from Sandaun province and she’s in grade 8 (Purple).

Parking your wife, or ‘marit antap long marit’

By KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN

PORT MORESBY – While Papua New Guinea has a couple of matrilineal societies, the majority of our many cultures are patrilineal, meaning the heirs to the land are male.

If a woman gives birth to sons, she is respected by her husband’s family, although this does not mean she is always safe.

There are chances of her being pushed out of public life by an incoming young wife.

However, essentially a son is a mother’s social safety net when everything else falls apart because the son is entitled to land.

That said, many first wives get parked on the side as by incoming younger wives.

PNG society has coined a phrase for this: ‘marit antap long marit’ [‘jumping on to an existing marriage’].

In the 16th century, King Henry the Eighth of England desperately sought a son but one never came.

Of his many marriages, two ended in annulment, two in natural deaths and two of his wives were beheaded for claimed adultery and treason.

These innocent wives were victims, to an extent, of an important man’s desire for a son to be his heir, the next King of England.

My tribesmen are Henry-like and desire sons to carry their name forward.

If that doesn’t eventuate they marry again, although thankfully the divorced wives are not murdered.

But there are some men who treat their wives very badly.

They will divorce or demote the first wife from public life and marry again and hand the new wife the family assets.

In addition, she becomes the so-called ‘battery of the car’, if the husband owns one. When the car is on the road, the new wife sits in front, alongside her husband at the steering wheel.

In the present-day, getting divorced or eloping with a married man who promises wealth is a daily occurrence helped along by pimps and mobile phones.

I am reminded of a family feud in my tribal land in which two girls from the same family jumped into the same bed with a particular polygamist.

Some 20 years ago, Wemin was an ordinary man who married a Yuri woman and the couple toiled the soil until they had earned enough money to buy a trucking business.

Wemin ferried our Galkope people to and from Kundiawa town.

As the business grew, Wemin ventured into trade stores and the purchase of coffee beans.

Talk abounded in the village that Wemin was so rich the BSP Bank in Kundiawa kept his money in the vault.

As this cooked up story spread, girls melted like butter in the sun when they saw him.

Yes, with success came women, and Wemin married six girls at about two-year intervals.

He parked his first wife on the side to mother their kids and thereafter she lived a life of celibacy.

Each of the six girls Wemin married over the years conceived and had one or two children with him.

When he was done with each, he parked them and some would tire of this and elope and remarry, sometimes leaving their children behind.

In 2016, Wemin poached a Josephine from Grade 6 and married her. She was aged about 15.

Her parents, although being well aware of Wemin’s character, wanted their daughter to marry him, his wealth being a great attraction.

They seemed not to care about the imminent risk Josephine faced against the mob of parked wives whose jealousy towards the interloper would be unbridled.

Wemin speedily built a store for Josephine’s parents and had it packed with cargo for them to operate it on their tribal land. They were over the moon and overwhelmed by their good luck.

Josephine soon bore Wemin a child with and things looked rosy in that first year. Before long a second child was born but, as Josephine was nursing it, Wemin, being Wemin, started again looking around for girls.

Pimps swiftly netted Wemin a beautiful girl and they were paid with cartons of SP beer.

Trouble was that the new girl, Apai, was Josephine’s blood cousin – Josephine’s maternal uncle’s daughter.

Anyway, Apai became the battery of the car and Josephine was parked at home.

But Josephine was having none of this and, on two occasions, injured Wemin with a knife.

Moreover, Apai had to be heavily guarded by Wemin’s henchmen.

After a long struggle, Josephine gave up, took her daughters and returned to her parents.

Her father had, on two previous occasions, armed himself with a gun and chased Wemin, who had escaped in his car.

When Apai had Wemin’s child, he committed to pay – after the next coffee season – K10,000, 30 pigs and some whitemen’s goods as bride price.

Of course, Apai’s family celebrated at hearing this.

Meanwhile, Josephine, her family, and Wemin’s previous wives and children were squatting in the dirt listening to this talk of the imminent bride price.

Apai conceived again and was expecting a second child. With gratitude, Wemin established a trade store in Apai’s tribal land with her parents as store keepers.

Just recently, word reached me that Apai was experiencing acute abdominal pain.

Her family, practicing Catholics, cooked up the idea that some sanguma [evil spirits] were jealous and had twisted the infant’s legs, hands and head in Apai’s womb in order to kill both mother and child.

One of them related this tale as if he had actually witnessed it.

Wemin and Apai’s father hired a witch doctor who claimed to have seven spirits under his armpit to come to the village.

The plan was to summon the village folk to converge, sit in a group and allow the witch doctor to scan them and single out those village folk complicit in twisting the infant’s limbs.

In fact, the witch doctor’s plan was to look around the mob and select the feeble and the pathetic as the culprits, collect his money and head quickly for home.

If he had picked out the younger, stronger ones they would immediately have attacked him with great violence.

I got a call from home that this was happening and rang the village leaders, all of whom I know well, to stop this insanity.

I said the witch doctor had no extra-terrestrial powers under his armpit but was trying to cook up some tricks to satisfy their misery and make some money.

Speaking very sternly, I stated that if sanguma did exist, then they were all sanguma because they had defied the blessedness of family and the sacraments of the Catholic church in giving away Apai to a lustful man who already married Josephine, also a daughter of the clan.

I concluded saying that Apai must now go to Kundiawa General hospital for a diagnosis by a real doctor.

So on Wednesday, the village folk rang me to say they had not brought the witch doctor to the village but instead had a community conversation.

The nub of the discussion was that they wanted to discourage jealousy and sanguma.

The leaders implored the sanguma to feed on excreta and spare Apai or any other person they planned to kill. Then they fetched water and bananas for Apai to drink, eat and be cleansed.

Yesterday, Apai was to go to Kundiawa hospital for a checkup. I have not yet heard the outcome.

All that said, Wemin is a completely insane man. A number of women he married bore him sons but he continued to park them and marry new ones.

Essentially, he did not care if the women bore him mighty sons or beautiful daughters. He just liked getting new batteries for the car.

He had also created a division with Josephine and Apai’s family, who had been hostile since their first skirmish. And all the other wives he had parked, and their children, were anguishing back at home with angry parents and clan members.

Papua New Guinea really needs to implement a national strategy to prevent gender based violence which includes building a social safety net for divorced and parked mothers, especially as the overwhelming majority do not own land.

At present, these women rely on their parents as social safety nets but, when the parents die, the women and children fall into horrific poverty.

Girls who intentionally elope with a woman’s husband should be penalised for undermining the first wife’s livelihood. And parents who allow underage girls to get married must be fined or imprisoned.

In addition all men who serially marry women must feel the full weight of the law. Their abhorrent behaviour is a threat to our people and society.

And I need hardly add that the whole practice of witch doctoring and its evil practices must be erased by those authorities we elect and appoint to govern our country.

This article was first published on PNG Attitude blog on 26 February 2021. https://www.pngattitude.com/2021/02/parking-your-wife-or-marit-antap-long-marit.html#more

Hard working men & village folk yet to eat

By Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude, 20 February 2021

Introductory glossary: (1) Hard working men = those who claim to lead the MPs campaign; (2) Village folk yet to eat = those who may receive cash from the MP; (3) Men who are eating = those who do receive cash from the MP

PORT MORESBY – I occasionally travel to my tribal land for feasts and holidays to mingle with our village folk and talk to all and sundry.

After the 2017 general election I went home and the self-proclaimed hard working men bragged about their daring roles during that election that enabled our tribesman to win, which he did.

The hard working men are convinced that, with a tribesman now a member of parliament, they and the village folk will have bulging stacks of cash zipped shut in their bilums through courtesy of the district’s money vault.

Others believe the village folk will eat unrestrainedly until some die of farting diarrhoea, whilst others will get sick with noses badly clogged from the smell of cash fresh from the factory.

“Wait and you will see these things come to fruition,” they told me.

Four years on, I went home again and the excitement had diminished and the smiles were weak.

And they walked submissively in their rags, looking as if they had lost their appetite or had barely survived through a long drought.

But still they talked. This time, the most aesthetic music to their ears was the gossip about who was eating and who was not from the local MP.

The money economy has never served the village folks well.

But still they crave for any cash that may come their way and are eager to do dirty jobs for a pittance.

However, we are all human and, when life’s trials throw a challenge, the people will invent a strategy to counter it.

We know that because we have observed the long journey from huts to skyscrapers.

Politics is about making decisions about how to distribute scarce resources in the midst of unlimited needs.

But village folk have a way to indulge on the spoils of victory without using lobby groups, street protests or rational argument.

They campaign and vote; they con politicians and in turn are conned; they give and eat, or are yet to eat.

This has happened election upon election and they are now experts on local politics.

The village folk too believe they can play mind games and craft the politicians and the wannabes to succumb to their game plan.

Anyhow, be that true or not, their dreams to sleep on a bed of cash straight out of the cash factory drive some men to leave home and go sleep under the MP’s house.

From there they bask, chitchatting around, clogging up the MP’s rest room, shower space and inflating electricity bills playing card games until dawn or dusk depending on when they started.

There is no degree of guilt or shame. This is their politics.

These men adorn themselves with titles like HWM (hard working men) and frisk and then dictate to every visitor at the MP’s gate.

Some wives, like their indecorous husbands, announce that every evening they have carted steaming hot copper dishes of food (carried on to their heads) for the campaign house.

But to date, of course, are yet to eat anything provided by the MP.

The womenfolk sell betel nut and smokes to the mob of constituents who inundate the MP’s gate every day.

They then give betel nut and smokes to the constituents as a gesture of goodwill.

Then they charge the MP a high price on an inflated invoice and, when the bill has been paid from the MP’s pocket, they will dash to the open air market and feast on fried lamb flaps and scones, and brag about their scam.

Sadly, these folks have no iota of respect for the MP’s wife and children nor their privacy.

If the wife wants to apply rules for everyone to observe in the MP’s house the hard working men will scold her.

They say their hard work alone landed her husband his job and they need special respect from her.

At dawn, the hard working men go into town and forcefully tell people to come to the MP for help and they bring them to the house.

If the MP sees those constituents and helps, the person who scouts them and brought them will later get his rendezvous fees from the visitor.

One such hard working man left behind his wife and children in some unplanned ghetto to fend for themselves and flew to live with the MP.

He joined his father, who was already at the MP’s house and had spent a couple of years crouching underneath there in hope of becoming a man who is eating.

A couple of years passed and the younger man sent a text message to the MP directing that the MP buy some bags of rice, tinned food and deliver them to the wife and children he left behind.

He also threatened to chop the MP if he flew up to his electorate without doing that.

Another lazy bugger said he had given the MP the spear or kulak kokia, the baton of authority handed down from a chief to the next of kin (before the chief disappeared into the sunset).

He also said he had given the MP a gentleman’s suit and a cowboy hat during his candidacy and those were the powers that actually swept the MP to victory.

At this juncture, he thought the MP owed him a great deal of reciprocity and so he wanted crates of beer every time the MP appeared back home for electoral duties.

Though the man has not an iota of blessing or authority, the cooked up story to get closer to the MP did serve him well, and he has gargled a few good beers so far.

The hard working men have no inch of care about schools, roads, hospitals and peace.

They just demand cash handouts in return for their toil during campaign periods. They are willing to turn into howling dogs just to get something to eat.

They know the MP has a whole district to feed and will have nothing for them unless they bother him.

If the MP runs out of patience and punches one of the hard working men and inflicts a bloody nose or brow, the victim’s family will applaud the victim, mummify his head and carry him on a stretcher to the MP to seek cash compensation.

There is a craving for upper cuts on the chin primarily for cash compensation.

Behavioural scientists allude that dogs are not only the best friends of humans, but that humans and dogs share a genetic makeup.

This is said to explain why dogs act like humans and humans act like dogs.

Our locality already has a growing segment of dog-like humans scavenging for anything that they can lay their snouts on.

To sum up, these folk cook up their own governance theories on how MPs and bureaucrats should run a district.

Their theories are mostly influenced by the famous money rain and cargo cult movements.

A poor education system produces this mob of uncritical thinkers and bad analysts and leads to herd mentality followers, as I have expounded.

All this said, I feel for the current MP, and all the other MPs who will come into the office in future.

The education system and the churches have a duty to educate the masses on what are the real roles and responsibilities of the MP.

Unless the hard working men and the village folk demand good policies and sustainable development, the MPs will continue to contribute to funerals, grog and give cash to zip the howling snouts.

Just to evade the dog-like characteristics of the hard working men and the village folk yet to eat.

This article was first published on PNG Attitude blog on 20 February 2021

https://www.pngattitude.com/2021/02/hard-working-men-village-folk-yet-to-eat.html

John believes music is a gift from God

By Mai Nero

It stands to reason that Jarryd John would become a musician one day as he was born and raised in a family which adores music. His parents are both musicians.

“I played music at home when I was a child. My brother and I, and our uncle Hobert Rueben challenged ourselves to become great musicians,” recalled John.

John, 28, whose parents are of Gulf, Central and Madang extraction is the eldest of six siblings. It was his childhood dream to be a great musician one day. He was only identify when he played the guitar. At 14, he started playing in the Reformation Ministry Church’s network as a brass guitarist.

John completed grade 12 at the school in Good Shepherd Lutheran Secondary School. He moved to Port Moresby in 2012 to take up computing at the International Training Institute where he was awarded a certificate in computing.

While in the big city, John continued to attend church and played music at the big city, John continued to attend church and played music at the Living Light Foursquare Church in Kaugere.

In 2015, he was among 13 young people who went to Australia to attend Hill song cinference. “We stayed for one and a half weeks in Australia, one week in Sydney and few days in Cairns where we ministered through songs,” said John.

Apart from that, John has been to several provinces in the country where he played his favorite bass guitar during outreaches, conferences and meetings. “I learnt many things while playing music. Music is a good thing. Through music I had the chance to travel places and also meet many great musicians,” explained John.

John believes that music is a gift from God and he wants to use this gift to serve God only and not for any other purposes. “Many musicians nowadays are using their gifts for outside benefits. From my view, music comes from God and we have to use it to serve Him only,” said John.

John believe that playing music for God bring blessings. As for him, he see the hand of God in his life as he continue to serve God through music. “That is why he believe that when you give back to God, what you deserves, he’ll blessed you abundently.

One of John’s greatest goals is to play a big stage with other great musicians and tour the world to save lost souls through music. “He hope that at least one person will be saved in the kingdom of God through his music. John learnt many things while playing music. Music is a good thing. Through music he had chance to travel places and meet many musicians.

*Mai is from Gulf and Morobe privince and she is in grade 7 (Purple) at New Erima Primary School.

Students must apply simple rules of Covid-19 at school

By Dhylamy Towe

Coronavirus has become a big problem in the world. It affects jobs, schools and other services of human society. In this part of the world, we are fortunate to go to school during this time and other countries or region such as the Philippines, China, America, Africa and Europe are all subject to strict lockdown. Since our country is not strictly lockdown, I have question myself thinking “Is our jobs and schools matter in this time of pandemic?” In my own opinion, I think education and jobs may be important, but in this period of time, our lives are far more important than attending to our needs. Think about it if you continue to go to school and catch Covid-19. What will you do?

In this case, simple rules like social distancing, washing hands before eating and after sneezing and wearing of mask must apply to students by balancing their education and life before going to school. Now that we have returned to normal day to day routing, no one is practicing these rules. Just recently, we discovered that a 46 year old was infected with Covid-19, which increased the number of cases to 11.

I feel like all our lives are in danger, we are still going to school, still working and people are walking around as if nothing happened. I wouldn’t be surprise if I heard one of the students in my school catch Covid-19. I mean look at us, we’re not taking this situation seriously, we’re just taking it has a normal flu. Besides, if one of us as students has the coronavirus, how do we help ourselves? We don’t have the high quality medical equipment to prevent this deadly disease. I think only prevention is by start following the simple rules and we’ll end up having no cases in our country.

During this year 2020, our Education Minister have stated that everyone should go back to school, but many parents complained on social media such as Facebook: “We don’t want our children to go to school because our child’s life is in stake.” I think the best way is to suspend 2020 schooling year to next year because our lives are more important than going to school. I’m in eighth grade, soon will be sitting for my exam and would like if they would pose pone to next year also. We’ve got a long way to go and apply simple rules to prevent is better than cure.

Dhylamy is from Manus province and she’s in grade 8 (purple).

Bik bus long maunten

MICHAEL DOM

 Translation of Mountain Forest by Jimmy Awagl
 Lae, 12 February 2021 
 Bikpela bus emi tutak tumas
 I silip antap long nus bilong maunten
 Klaut i pasim het bilong em
 Na i ron namel insait long bus
 Antap long lip na han bilong diwai

 Lait bilong san emi pundaun ikam
 Na i traim long sutim pinga igo insait
 Long simuk i ron antap long bik bus
 Em nau i kirapim paialait olsem gol 
 Na kainkain kalakala i mekim ai long pas

 Harim ol pisin i singsing gut turu
 Ol i pairap antap long het bilong diwai
 We ol i danis painim wara long lip diwai
 Em bai inapim pisin ol iet tu ikam long heven
 Na i silip long bik bus, emi kamap haus bilong ol

 Ol rokrok tu i singsing long bus
 Na ol bulagau i karai antap moa iet
 Em nau ol welabus bilong nait
 Igo silip driman long wanwan ples hait 
 Na muruk tasol emi dring buswara long graun

 Tasol pinga bilong san emi sot tumas
 Na kolwin tu bai ino inap brukim bus
 Wara bilong bus emi sindaun oltaim
 We ol klaut i silip antap long lip diwai
 Eh, big bus long maunten emi nais tumas
  

The Island of Bougainville

By Liceanne Utah

Bougainville is an island named after the explorer Captain Bougainville. It is the largest island in the Solomon Islands. It is also one of the 22 provinces of PNG. It covers an area of about 3,880 square miles and has a population of about 62,500 people. The island’s main products are cocoa and copra.

Arawa is the capital of Bougainville.
French navigator Louis Antoine de Bougainville discovered the island in 1768. In the 1880s, Bougainville was partially occupied by the Germans. Australia gained control in 1914 and Bougainville became part of New Guinea’s territory in 1920. Japan captured Bougainville in 1942 and in November 1943, US marines landed on the island. Since 1975, Bougainville has been called North Solomon and it is still one of the provinces of PNG.

The most spoken languages on the island are English and Tok Pisin. There are total of 23 different dialects spoken on the island.

Regardless of the ethnic group they belong to or the different languages they speak, the pride of its provincial colours certainly receives respect in the province. Colour red, black, white, green and blue are the official colours of the province.

These colours are common among paintings that the majority of citizens prefer to use during its provincial or cultural day celebrations. Therefore, in order to show the pride of the province, these colours are design into the provincial flag. Besides other additional features such as the special upe or the large shell that men wear after leaving their homes.

This unique object is worn by men during special events. The red and white upe headdress is superimposed on the cobalt blue field of green and white kapkap.
The flag of Bougainville is a symbol of Autonomous Region of Bougainville. It was first adopted in 1975 by the secessionist Republic of North Solomon. Blue represents Pacific Ocean, white represents beautiful sandy beaches and green signifies the Bougainville’s rainforest. The white inside also represent the sunrise, black signifies the skin colour of the Bougainvilleans, the upe signifies the manhood, while the two designs on the upe represents a mother holding her child.

The island is covered with tropical rainforest and it is enshrined with flowers, trees and various spices from the forest. The island is boasting with 26 spices of hibiscus flowers and the black orchid found only in Bougainville. The mountain ranges are located in the centre of the island and rivers flow from these mountains to the South Pacific Ocean. A long stretch of white sandy beaches surrounds the island. The mainland of Bougainville is surrounded by many small islands and atolls such as Nissan, Mortlock, Nuguria and Carterets Islands. The southern part of the island has numerous rivers flowing down to the Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of caves have also been discovered on the island, which is very exciting for tourists.

Today, Bougainville has two airports, the first and the larger one is in the town of Arawa and the smaller one is in Buka town. There is another town located in the South Bougainville called Buin. The small town is where our Solomon Island friends come to sell their valuable items such as necklaces, Solomon laplaps or lavalava, sea foods and many more. Bougainville is open to anyone who wants to travel to the island. It’s free if you want to discover a beautiful island or get a vocation on the island’s white sandy beaches. To track beyond the mountains and discover a large waterfall or check out the area where the previous Bougainville crisis occurred, take a PMV ride to the mainland of Bougainville. Here you can find a lot of interesting objects, ancient artefacts and island stories.

Bougainville is said to have its own currency, but it has not yet been confirmed. Whether that is true or not, some people have confirmed that the new Bougainville currency are fake. It is made of paper, not real paper. To be sure, PNG currencies are used throughout Bougainville. The island has experienced many things in the past, and now the province is trying to become a country on its own. I think that Bougainville citizens living in Port Moresby and other parts of the country will have a passport to travel to the island and will create its own currency at that time. Many people complain about the province and its development tends. The process is still in progress, and every Bougainville is waiting for good news. The vote has been completed, and most people want the island to gain independence.

This means that the island will soon be declared its own country. Our ancestors fought for this and now the greatest news is about to be announced soon. May we look forward to the best and God bless the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Liceanne is from Bougainville and she’s in grade 8 (purple).

The Huli Wigmen

By Christina Samuel

The Huli Wigmen from the Hela province is one of the most colourful and fascinating tribes in Papua New Guinea today. Like many tribes in PNG, their costumes, dances and rituals pay homage to the environment, especially to the amazing Bird of Paradise. Huli unlike other cultural tribes, their patrilineal lines decree chiefdom. The Huli leaders are selected for their wealth and process in battle and resolving conflicts. The Huli people believe they descended from a man called Huli and even though modern influences have begun to impact the culture but the tribe continues to live a traditional life for the most part.

Man and woman usually do not live together. As a result, boys lived with their mothers up until the age of eight and then reside with their fathers who taught them how to build fence, house and hunt for food. Young men are reared to be self-sufficient braving the surrounding jungle along for extended periods as a rite of passage to manhood. At around 14, teenage boys attend wig school. Only virgins are accepted into wig school as their purity is said to be more amenable to magic. Each placement is the cost of a pig.

At wig school, a wig master overseas the grooming of hair to ensure that each boy creates a strong foundation for the Huli wig, a unique design of woven hair. The boys are inaugurated into the school with a ritual to cleanse the body and soul. They are then placed on a diet, which typically omits spicy foods and pork fat, to promote healthy hair growth. In addition, the wig master casts magic spells to spur growth along. For the next eighteen months, the boys sleep with a headrest to prevent their hair from being flattened. It’s then cut off and wig specialist weaves it into the shape that form the basic structure of the much lauded Huli wigmen headdress. Finally, the wigs are adorned with feathers from the Bird of Paradise, yellow everlasting daisies and possum fur among other items.

It’s not uncommon for Huli wigmen to grow multiple wigs over many years as long as they’re crafted before marriage. Some are used in everyday life while others are saved for special ceremonial events. Ceremonial wigs usually have speaks at the side reininiscent of the Bird of Paradise wing span.

When it comes for celebration, the Huli wigmen dedicate much time and effort preparing their sacred spectacular costumes. Ambua, the yellow clay they paint their faces with, is sacred and sets the Huli wigmen apart from other tribes. When students finally graduate from wig school, they paint faces with ambua and go in search for a wife.

photo chief Muduya in New York city
  • Christina is from Jiwaka province and she’s in grade 8 (purple).

Solving PNG’s 27, 000 Student Problem: Online Learning & Open Campuses

BY Academia Nomad Blog, January 30 2021

PC: IICD

“The greater evil is not that we are losing the best population of this generation: 27, 000 or so each year. But maintaining the status quo when we can do something about it now so the next 27, 000 don’t miss out…” Academia Nomad

There has been so much said about the 27, 000 students missing out of selection to PNG tertiary institutions. Views vary: some blame students for not investing time in their studies (so called boom-box generation), others blame COVID-19 and related disruptions, whilst others make the case for students who meet the GPA (grade point average) or entry requirements but still miss out on selection. Views of the last group, who argue for students missing out despite meeting the GPA should trouble the nation. As argued earlier in Academia Nomad’s article “Exclusive Club with low quality: trends in PNG tertiary institutions”, the first two arguments don’t hold water. You can only blame the boom-box generation after all the students have been selected and there’s still spaces available but no one is qualified to be selected. At the moment, masses of students miss out even when they qualify. Second, the problem of qualified students missing out on selection predates COVID-19, so you cannot blame COVID-19. Students have been missing out before COVID-19, and they will continue to miss out after COVID-19 is gone, unless the capacity of universities and colleges are increased. 

To solve the 27, 000 problem is not easy and can’t be done overnight. It will need massive investment in infrastructure, ICT, improvements in staffing conditions etc. Basically, the PNG tertiary sector’s capacity needs to be increased three times. Currently it takes in 9, 000. To take in the 27, 000 (27, 000/9 = 3), it needs three times more than the current capacity. 

Alternatively, PNG institutions can take the courses online, and increase satellite institutions or Open Campuses. PNG is entering a stage where these two initiatives are not only preferable, but imminent. It has to begin now, so the next 27, 000 students don’t miss out next year. And these two proposals  are relatively cheaper than building another university.

Open Campuses 

Open Campuses are small branches of universities established in the provinces with limited capacities.  They provide preliminary courses/subjects, and act as a pathway into universities. The conditions and efficiencies of these campuses are not known, but the general perception is that they are redundant, or ineffective, understaffed, under resourced, and don’t always deliver their promise as pathways to universities. 

This doesn’t mean the Open Campuses are therefore a failed concept. Those in cities, such as UPNG’s NCD Open Campus opposite the main UPNG Campus operates relatively well, giving many students access to UPNG main campus. Students can even attain a Diploma in Accounting just by attending Open Campus which is the equivalent to two years studies at the main campus. They have the choice to either continue studies as third year students at the main campus or graduate and go out and work. Divine Word has similar campuses, with the one in Port Moresby offering advanced subjects as well. Unitech offers DODL, but it’s more like code/FODE.

PNG tertiary institutions can assess what is working for their Open Campuses in the main Centre’s and duplicate them in the provinces. Offer good salaries, employment conditions, and improve the infrastructure for Open Campuses at the provincial level. The National Government should make this it’s priority. Students can complete Diplomas in their provinces. A lot more students would opt for this arrangement as boarding and lodging fees at the universities and colleges are very expensive. Also, this will open the door for public servants in the provinces to upgrade their skills. They don’t have to resign from their jobs to pursue studies in Port Moresby, Lae, Madang or Goroka. More importantly, it will account for the majority of the 27, 000 students missing out on selection.

I’m not a fan of the government loan: HELP. But to make any meaning out of HELP, education must be made available to the masses – the ‘extra’ 27, 000 students. Otherwise, the government is spending massive taxpayers money on very few privileged groups.

Online Learning 

The Open Campus concept can be complemented by either blended learning or full online learning. Online learning is basically education that takes place over the Internet. It is often referred to as “e- learning” among other terms. However, online learning is just one type of “distance learning” – the umbrella term for any learning that takes place across distance and not in a traditional classroom.

The so-called “boom-box generation” is also the most internet savvy generation this country has ever had. Great nations don’t always have the most resources, or the best circumstances, or luck. They look at their limitations and make very strategic choices. Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan etc., don’t have gold and copper and silver. They’re not islands of gold floating on sea of oil, the overused term that is associated with PNG. These are countries full of limitations. You can go back to 1945 – 1953 and South Korea was probably in a more dire situation than PNG. The WWII and the Korean War devastated almost every infrastructure, nascent industries, demoralized the population, and left massive dead bodies. And they built it up from scratch. PNG has to look at its circumstances, and use it to its advantage. If the kids are hooked to their phones, bring education to their phones.

The Coral Sea Cable, a 4700 km  underwater internet cable linking Sydney to Port Moresby will drastically increase the internet connectivity and speed in PNG. Now is the time to take education online. 

This is where we are: 27, 000 students missing out on selection; very expensive boarding and lodging fees; an internet savvy population who are stuck to their phones. Let’s change the way we do education. We can do that by going online, improving access by establishing more and better open campuses, and offering Certificates and Diplomas online or at the open campuses.

Not everyone wants a degree. Some just need an introduction into the main theories and current practices in the fields they are interested in. Some just want to learn the basics. For these people, offer diplomas and certificates online as well as at the open campuses. With the internet age, they’ll take it from there and become self-taught experts. Keep the degrees and MAs and PhDs at the universities for those who want to pursue them, and those who could afford them or have the temperament to get HELP loans and repay them forever.

My appeal to the Prime Minister, Minister for Education and Ministry for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology:

Sirs, we are losing the best population of this generation: 27, 000 each year. The greater evil is not that they are missing out, but the fact that they don’t have to miss out if we act now. Decentralize education. Take it online, and take it to the people in the provinces. For a time such as this were you put in such high places, make it count.

Academia Nomad has published several articles related to this topic. To read previous article check the links below:

  1. Exclusive Club but low quality: trends in PNG tertiary education sector 
  2. Not selected? Four ways to pursue studies in PNG 

God bless you all and take care…

TOKSAVE: TINGTING BILONG MI ESSAYS

Ples Singsing Masterminds

Contestants have been sending in their essays over the last two weeks but we have noted that some have had difficulty with uploading their ENTRY FORM and ID PHOTO.

We are allowing an additional week for those who have some challenges with email internet connections.

If you are unable to send the filled out form with ID photo attached then take a good quality digital picture of the form and the ID and email them to Ples Singsing.

We may also accept essays sent as good quality JPEG images but we do not encourage this as we will have to arrange someone else to do the typing.

Do not feel hesitant if you have no choice at all within the time span – we’ve had one come from Tapini.

Tingim tasol olsem mipela wok nating long dispela competition na igatim tu ol narapela wok bilong mipela iet. Tenkiu