SEVERAL parents have come to UPNG to find out why their children were not accepted despite getting excellent grades in Grade 12. Many UPNG facilities were built by the Australian government in the 1960s and the same facilities are used today.
The PNG Government has not funded new infrastructure to cater for extra lecture halls. This is now placing a huge burden on increased student intakes. The fact is that the same lecture halls and laboratories cannot accommodate increased student intakes.
To give an example, the number of students who enrolled at first year level to take first year chemistry in 2009 numbered more than 500 while the only laboratory to accommodate them can only cater for 48. This meant extra work stress for the available staff to accommodate laboratory sessions into Saturdays. This is the current trend and will only get worse. After students complete first year science, they need to be at the very top with A grades to qualify for the limited spaces into the medical school.
Moreover, students wanting to become geologists will not all make it. Due to space problems, only 20 plus students will be accepted into second and upper years. The Government is placing emphasis on primary education but equal attention is not given to increase funding for capacity-building at universities. This includes, the building of extra lecture halls, funding for state of the art technology so that scientists and technologists can be innovative and assist research in PNG. Overall, university education is a right for all PNG citizens. Unfortunately, the Government is plagued with planning, implementation and accountability inability, be it in road networks, new and improved hospitals, improved universities including technical colleges and the development wish list will go on. There is too much talk on politics in newspapers but politics is not transparent when it comes to show for infrastructures and new developments within universities. And I do not think the LNG project will bring about fast changes despite high hopes.
That is because PNG planners, thinkers, implementers, assessors all have an attitude problem.
Dr Topul Rali,
Professor of Chemistry,