By ELLEN TIAMU
NEXT Friday, when the country celebrates 41 years of Independence a large group of grassroot Papua New Guineans will be holding a joint celebration at the Rev. Sione Kami church in Port Moresby as well. They are students who have undergone Personal Viability education and have lifted themselves out of the doldrums of poverty and hardship. Theirs is a fascinating story of self-faith, dedication and perseverance. In this first part of three articles, we’ll read about the man who started it all.
This is a remarkable story of an ordinary man who rose from the depths of poverty, failure, adversity, stress and challenges to develop a unique education system that is destined to transform societies of PNG, Pacific Island nations and the world at large.
He is Samuel Tam MBE, CSI, OL aka Papa Sam by all his students. But his story was not at all rosy from the start. Sam came from a poor family and is a second generation PNG born (Rabaul) Chinese. His father was a mechanic from Singapore & his mother was born in Rabaul in 1921. Sam’s father passed away in 1954 when Sam was 6 years old and his mother had the unenviable task of raising 4 young children, the last not born yet.
Sam was not a particularly bright academically. He was educated in Rabaul Primary School and finished his secondary education at Scots College, Warwick, Qld.
He went to University of Queensland but stayed only one year. His mother was seriously ill with high blood pressure and Sam decided to start work in Rabaul to supplement his mother’s income to help educate Sam’s two younger sisters & brother.
In 1968, Sam decided to migrate from Rabaul to Port Moresby. He found employment in a customs clearance & transport business and later commenced his first trade store. It was then that his fortunes turned. From 1969 to 1994 Sam developed many successful businesses including supermarkets, wholesale, fast food, and manufacturing.
In 1974, he founded the immensely successful Stretpasin Stoa Scheme with the Development Bank of PNG. He was a director of the Development Bank from 1982 – 1988. He was captain/coach of the Gold medal winning PNG Squash team at the Apia, South Pacific Games in 1983.
Sam has been helping Papua New Guineans since 1970 when he assisted two June Valley trade store owners named Mairi Mairi and Ethel Arek. That experience led him to Stretpasin Stoa fame and then he began helping Nalden Matautu and the Liklik Bisnismanmeri Association (LIKBA).
In 1994, Sam’s fortune took another bad turn and he lost all his businesses. In his search for answers to his own challenging situation he founded Entrepreneurial Development Training Centre Ltd (EDTC) and the EDTC Personal Viability Training Course (PV).
PV was launched on 16th September 1996. Over the past 20 years Sam developed PV into PV Business Scheme (PVBS) a unique, innovative, inclusive, performance, action-learning, business class, alternate education system that offers a pathway to achieve internationally recognized professional (not academic) degrees from Global University for Lifelong Learning, California, USA.
This unique alternate education system has also received international recognition.
A great fan and believer of Papa Sam’s viability education is Dr Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt. She is a pioneer of Action Learning & Action Research (ALAR); Adjunct Professor at Griffith University, Brisbane and Professor Extraordinaire at the Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa.
She has 4 Doctoral Degrees and has published 35 books, 45 book chapters, over 100 articles & papers and 45 videos.
Her latest book, co-authored with Richard Teare, showcased PV as a credible training and development program for grassroots and educated people.
Dr Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt wrote, “PV is a brilliant idea & deserves to be known & spread all over the world, for it is the solution to poverty, unemployment and crime.”
Dr Richard Teare is Founder and President of Global University for Lifelong Learning. He is an author and holds Professorships at four UK Universities.
“Since its inception in 2007, the Global University for Lifelong Learning (GULL) has established a presence in more than 40 countries and although I haven’t had the chance to visit every location, I have not found a more effective training and development system of its kind – in any world location.”
“PVBS is special because it enables people from economically poor communities to achieve self-reliance and financial independence. This is one of the most pressing needs facing the world today and I have no hesitation in saying that PVBS is a world class performance-based learning system. I’m delighted too that it was designed, developed and refined over many years in Papua New Guinea”, wrote Dr Richard Teare
Another passionate admirer of Personal Viability Education is James Van Duker from the USA. He is a former Exxon-Mobil manager of community development (PNG)
“On a separate topic, I’ve been meaning to talk to you (Sam) about something that has been on my mind since learning that I wouldn’t be coming back to PNG. As you know, I’m very passionate about, and inspired by what you do. It’s impacted and changed many lives, including mine.
I think PVBS is very applicable to all people, including people in so-called developed countries like my own.”
“I also have a great desire to work with and learn from you and your life experiences. I’ve wanted to do this since quitting my job with ExxonMobil and I’ve finally come to the point of asking you if you would be willing to let me partner with you to open an affiliate of EDTC in the United States.”
“Let me just say first that I envision great things for PVBS in the USA. I think it is the only education system that can compete with free, government-provided education—PVBS is the only education that provides a real, tangible return on investment.”
“I’m very excited about the prospects of PVBS here. I really think that this school will be the next big revolution in education”.
This story is truly remarkable because Samuel Tam is a seemingly ordinary person from a poor family with no special skills or talents and is typically at the bottom level of his class throughout primary & secondary schooling.
It seems the things this unassuming man excels in are because: he has complete self-faith in his “Gold Mind”; of his strong belief in the unlimited human potential within, ready to be exposed and used and benefitted from; and he does not give up.
Samuel Tam personifies EDTC Personal Viability. He is a living example and role model of what he believes in, and that is, anyone can BE whatever you want to be, DO whatever you want to do and HAVE whatever you want to have provided you are prepared to sacrifice and learn how to achieve it.
Sam believes we already have everything we need, probably more than we can ever use, but we need to learn how to use and benefit from what we have.
This is the philosophy, focus, purpose and sum total of this simple man and his unique alternate education system. Money and material wealth is just a by-product of personal viability or personal power.
Next Friday 16th September is going to be a special day, not only for the country but for EDTC as well. It is celebrating its 20th Anniversary at the Rev Sione Kami Memorial Church, Boroko – the birth place of PV. Hundreds of PV participants, trainers, coaches, and supporters are expected to come from many provinces of PNG to help celebrate this milestone of achievements- both for thousands of people around the country, and the man they fondly call, Papa Sam.
By ELLEN TIAMU