By ROBINSON LEKA
PORT Moresby Business College has lost its longest serving principal of 22 years.
Former principal John August Lasisi passed away on Aug 14, 2021)
Affectionately known to everyone as Father John, the late educationist August was a man dedicated to serving his institution and like any caring father did, he took care of his school as he did his home.
His stay with the college saw some significant changes in both the administration and academic direction, however the late John was more popularly known as a kind and gentle man who always brought out the best in those who worked with him.
Hailing from Loburua village near Kavieng town, New Ireland, John completed high school in 1973 at Utu (now a secondary school). The following year in 1974 he was selected to take up studies at Popondetta Agricultural College in Northern where he completed a two-year certificate course in tropical agriculture.
He later took up further studies at the Vudal Agricultural College in East New Britain (PNG University of Natural Resources and Environment today) where he successfully completed his diploma in tropical agriculture in 1976.
In 1977 John applied and was selected into Goroka Teacher’s College (University of Goroka) where he undertook post-vocational training, specialising in technical and commercial training.
That same year, John would meet his wife, Rose Kasu from Karkar Island in Madang, who at the time was also a teacher in training for secretarial studies (office and business administration today).
John and Rose graduated from Goroka in 1978 and moved to Lae where John taught commerce at Busu High School while Rose was a teacher at the Lae Secretarial College (Lae Polytechnic College today). In 1980 they celebrated the birth of their first child Titianne August in Lae with the two continuing their time in the classroom as teachers.
John would pursue an offer to teach at the Port Moresby Technical College (Pomtech) in 1984 where he was posted as a teacher with the clerical sudies department. His ability to organise and teach saw him quickly promoted to department head.
On the home front, John and Rose welcomed the birth of their second child David Swagel August in 1985 with the family of four now settled in Port Moresby. In 1988 John was moved to the Department of Education’s head office in Waigani where he assumed the position of Staff Development Officer (SDO).
His exposure to the new role of SDO would see him play an integral part in the department’s technical division where he would oversee studies and training of teachers and officers in the department both within the country and abroad.
He would also play an important role in the management and administrative affairs of technical institutes in the country as a mediator for Lae Technical College and Kokopo Business College.
Both institutions would have falling outs between students and their administrations with John part of a team of overseers that helped restore administration and operations for Lae Technical in 1989 and Kokopo in 1991.
Port Moresby Business College
With 16 years of teaching and administrative experience under his belt, John and his family would move to their new home at 5-Mile to be there for the next two decades after he was appointed as a deputy principal at the Port Moresby Business College in 1994.
Both John and Rose were no strangers to the upbringing of their children with the couple gladly opening their home to Lasisi and Ruby August along with John’s trusted cousin all the way from Kavieng who is known affectionately by the residents of five-mile as Tata Ambel. John’s time at the college would see him serve under his former Pomtech colleague and then principal Wini Leka with John soon taking over as principal in 1996.
“A lot of projects and developments that we see in the college today are all from his ingenious ways in running the school,” said Leka.
“Instead of paying out big money to contractors, John would always get his students and staff involved in doing everything like cleaning and repairing classrooms or other facilities in the college.
“A lot of activities and projects were mostly centred on students making money and managing that same money for their benefit and the institution. Our working relationship was a special one, we never argued over anything and we were always on the same page.
“John had no problems in running the college so when I left the college (in 1996) I knew that it was in very good hands,” Leka recalled.
Apart from John’s administrative duties to the school, his duty to improve the quality of education saw many important developments with the college opening up to more advanced programmes in business studies.
What was formerly known as secretarial and clerical studies was now more technical and business-oriented programmes with accounting, management, economics and computing now incorporated into the school’s diploma programme.
Paving the way into UPNG
A major milestone for John and his administration came in 2005 when the college received accreditation into the University of Papua New Guinea’s (UPNG) accounting programme.
The accreditation was later recognised with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the college and the university in 2014.
The MOU saw diploma holders in accounting from the college pursue further studies at the university for only two years before going on to graduate with bachelor degrees in accounting under the school of business administration (School of Business and Public Policy today).
The success of the accreditation to UPNG saw a significant number of college graduates go on to acquire university degrees with the college slowly rising as a centre of excellence in higher learning and a crowning achievement for John’s administration.
John’s passion in education and giving back to his community in New Ireland saw the inception of Lemakot campus of the Port Moresby Business College in 2006.
The Lemakot campus in 2016 celebrated its 10th anniversary with John receiving the honours of maimai (or chief) from his community for his contribution to education in New Ireland.
The off-site campus of the college today is a branch of the college that provides technical and vocational training courses in business studies, management and tourism and hospitality.
A tragic blow to the August family would come in 2011 when John’s lifelong partner of 34 years, Rose August, passedafter suffering from a short illness. John buried his wife near his home at Loburua village near Kavieng town.
Five years later (in 2016), he would officially retire from his post and the school dedicatated its newly built assembly hall to to the memory of the former princial by christening it John Lasisi August Hall).
Following the end of his career at the college, John, his children and grandchildren would relocate to Kavieng later in 2018 before his passing in August 2021.
The college and community at the 5-Mile campus, when farewelling the late John August described him as a true leader that championed technical and vocational training.
In their farewell the college staff and students paid tribute to the late John August with these words: “Such a leader he was, he was loved by staff members, both teaching and ancillary.
“A wise leader who made decisions that impacted the lives of nearly every staff member of the Port Moresby Business College, their families and the community around him.
“His legacy will forever live on here in the college so we say farewell and goodbye to the late John August.
May his soul rest in eternal peac.
Farewell chief, father and yaya.”