THIS week, the National Polytechnic Institute of PNG in Lae is mourning the death of its founding director, Mathew Piruruho.
Mr Piruruho served as principal of the former Lae Technical College for 11 years before taking on the role of director of the institute last December.
He died in Port Moresby last Thursday and his body was flown to Lae where Polytechnic staff, students, governing council members and the Lae community paid their last respects to a man whose contributions to technical and vocational education and training have been widely praised.
Mr Piruruho was described as “a man of few words”, but one who always delivered on his word.
Many know him as a quiet achiever – a man who always follows correct procedures and processes in getting things done for the institution he was responsible for as its chief executive officer.
Technical and vocational education and training assistant secretary Jayasundara Bandam, speaking on behalf of the Department of Education, described Mr Piruruho as a “model principal who always applied the policies, systems and processes 100%”.
He would never bend rules or policies to achieve anything.
He followed laws to get things done in the correct, proper way.
When Mr Piruruho was appointed principal of Lae Technical College in 1999, it was said that the college was in debt by over K300,000 and had great difficulty buying supplies in Lae.
That was when he applied strict control on the college finances, eventually paying off the debt and returning the college to a healthy financial state.
Today, many important State organisations are riddled with corruption of one kind or another – especially involving the handling of public funds.
Those entrusted with the responsibility of managing these institutions frequently fail to adhere to the Public Finances (Management) Act and continue to squander public funds for their own use, as if the funds were their own petty cash.
This is why so many such institutions just cannot operate on sound financial footing because funds continue to disappear – get misused or spent elsewhere by those in authority, or are applied for personal use.
This is why many private and Government agencies and institutions, at all levels of society, needed officers like Mr Piruruho.
PNG has lost a man of impeccable public service record in financial and institutional management, a man of untarnished credibility and the highest level of integrity.
Few words he spoke, but that was not the measure of his intelligence, wisdom or his reputation and character
as a trusted public servant and head teacher.
At the end of last year when the accounts of the former Lae Technical College were transferred to the National Polytechnic Institute, the governing council noted that the institution finished the year with its finances well managed and according to law.
Mr Piruruho’s achievements were many, and the legacy he has left behind is one of doing things the right way and spending public funds wisely.
Morobe education adviser Murika Biroro described Mr Piruruho as a quiet man of principle who had contributed enormously to vocational and technical education and training in Papua New Guinea.
He was never a man to seek credit or praise for anything he did for his institution. Everything he did was done quietly with few words spoken.
The National Polytechnic Institute accorded Mr Piruruho a farewell befitting the respect and honour he deserved.
The institute has the greatest task of finding a director to fill in the shoes of Mr Piruruho. Whoever takes over this chair at Polytechnic must know that Mr Piruruho had left the institute in a sound financial state.
Yesterday, his body was flown to Buka accompanied by his family to his village of Musiminoi in the Siwai area of South Bougainville for burial.
He died at age 56, and is survived by his wife Mary and four children.
PNG has indeed lost a special son – and thanks to Bougainville for giving the nation such an outstanding leader in education.