By KEVIN PAMBA
THE Divine Word University (DWU) community celebrated a successful outcome of public private partnership (PPP) at the Madang Campus on Monday, Sept 11.
This was the opening of a K6m “hi-tech” lecture and office building for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) funded by the Government of Papua New Guinea under its public investment program (PIP).
The FMHS building is among five infrastructure projects that the Catholic university received PIP funding for, of over K14 million.
The all-in-one lecture and office complex has a 700-plus capacity in its 12 lecture rooms, and phases out the single floor stand-alone classroom and office settings which are remnants of the Divine Word Institute (1979-1995) and Divine Word High School (1968-1978) days.
The occasion was emotional, yet fulfilling for DWU staff and alumni associated with the institution in its heady days of bare gravel campus streets, humid classrooms and offices and teaching with chalk and blackboard.
Two Government Ministers Sir Dr Puka Temu (Health and HIV/AIDS) and Pila Niningi (Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology), were on hand to take part in the celebrations and open in the building on behalf of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
They were accompanied by senior bureaucrats such as Secretary for Health Pascoe Kase, Assistant Secretary-Social Sector Division, Department of National Planning and Monitoring Joshua Himina, Deputy Secretary, Operations, Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (DHERST) Steven Matainaho, and Executive Manager, Flexible Education & Partnership, DHERST Miti Peai, Director Health-Madang Marcus Kachau, CEO of Modilon General Hospital Sister Christine Gawi and her senior staff.
Also in attendance were the DWU Council Chair Archbishop Douglas Young SVD the Archbishop of Mount Hagen, DWU President Professor Cecilia Nembou, Member of the DWU Council and Madang businessman Sir Peter Barter, and Fr Jozef Maciolek SVD, Provincial Superior of Divine Word Missionaries.
Several old lecture buildings had to be knocked down to make way for the double-storey FMHS complex which also consists of a simulation room, one conference room, office of the faculty dean and executive officer, staff-room with cubicles that can cater for 30 staff within the faculty and offices for heads of departments.
Each air-conditioned lecture room can cater for 40, 48 or 68 students at any one time and altogether the 12 lecture rooms can cater for 720 students in total.
The lecture rooms have been furnished with projectors and either long or round student tables to encourage corporative learning.
The latter style of sitting arrangement, according to the University is “an educational approach which aims to organise classroom activities into academic and social learning experiences, whereby students work in groups, capitalizing on one another’s resources and skills to complete tasks collectively toward academic goals, and where the lecturer’s role changes from giving information to facilitating students’ learning.”
“This is a new approach to teaching and learning which was launched and implemented here at DWU in 2006,” says the University in a statement.
An identical all-in-one lecture and office complex is under construction for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is expected to be completed towards the end of next year. A building complex for the Faculty of Business and Informatics would follow afterwards.
Sir Puka and Niningi jointly opened the building on behalf of the Government while Sir Puka spoke on behalf of Prime Minister.
Dr Temu said the inauguration of the medicine and health sciences complex underlines the success that can be achieved from the partnership between the State and the Church (DWU as a Catholic University) to serve the people.
He particularly commended the Catholic Church for its well-regarded work in providing basic health and education services in the remote and rural areas where government services hardly reach. He reiterated the government’s desire to continue the partnership with the Church through its health and education institutions like DWU to provide services to the people.
Sir Puka said the building will go a long way in assisting DWU produce the critical cadre of medical and health science professionals, including rural doctors and health extension officers (HEOs) needed by the majority of the population in rural and remote areas.
Niningi said “the new building supports the growth of higher education” and his department and ministry would continue to back DWU.
What the Ministers stated about the ethos of DWU is articulated in its Charter which partly reads: “As a Christian institution, it shall serve national objectives simultaneously with Church purposes. The Church’s broad philosophy of education, based on its broad view of the nature of man, causes the Church’s expectations of the institution to cater to the total human development of every individual involved with the institute. No conflict is seen between national goals and church expectations. For this purpose, therefore, let the institute be so incorporated into the State of Papua New Guinea as to become a legally recognized identity in the country.”
DWU Council Chairman and Archbishop of Mount Hagen Archdiocese Douglas Young SVD thanked the government for the funding and said DWU was focused on doing its part in the development of PNG and assisting the Government in addressing the various development challenges.
The university, he said, was grateful for the support by the DHERST for the PIP funding.
DWU President Professor Cecilia Nembou also conveyed the University’s appreciation to the Government for the funding saying the FMHS building plus several other infrastructures under the same PIP tranche, such as staff houses, student dormitories and a water supply project, were evidences of the DWU culture of “doing more with less”.
She said the FMHS building is “hi-tech” meaning it is kitted with the latest information and communication technology for delivery of lectures and a simulation room for students in medicine, rural health (HEO) and other health science programs.
The FMHS block is one of five priority projects that was identified for the Madang campus and submitted to DHERST for PIP funding in 2015.
The other projects funded by PIP are:
- Water Supply System (K500, 000);
- Staff Accommodation (K1m);
- Students Dormitories (K4m); and
- Lecture Building for Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (K4.5m)
Four out of its five priority infrastructure projects have been completed. They are; Water Supply System, Staff Accommodation, Students Dormitories and the FMHS building.
- The writer is a freelance journalist