By LYPENSON SOWENI
NO dreams and aspirations shall be shattered, reads the motto of Asia-Pacific Institute of Applied Social, Economic and Technical Studies (Apiasets).
“This institution is not really about me as a person. I’m fortunate to have really amazing people around me and these people are keen and eager to work on my ambition,” Apiasets executive director, Thomas Phillar said.
He told The National that he needed both public and private partners to work with him to achieve the ambitious plans he has, otherwise they would be just that – ambitious plans.
“Many of those ambitions and aspirations that I have are actually made of plans that the Government has. I have planned my vision by picking up small plans the Government has set up in order to achieve Vision 2050.”
Phillar said the Government’s PNG Vision 2050 set the overall direction for Papua New Guinea to attain the nation’s dream to be a smart, wise, fair, healthy and happy society and one of the top 50 economies in the world by year 2050.
This is the bigger picture this country wants to achieve.
“If we see it in a more practical way, it is quite a challenging task and it’s not easy to have that society because we have to have the money, resources and talents to make everybody smart, wise, fair, healthy and happy.”
According to Phillar the population of Papua New Guinea is growing at a rate of 3.5 per cent. And at any world standard a growth rate of 3.5 per cent is massive.
“Not many countries on record that are successful now have this kind of rate,” he said.
“We’ve been a developing country and this population explosion is going to have a dramatic effect on the way we do things if we are not careful.
“Apiasets is targeting areas that we think that the country seriously needs to prosper. You don’t need to go to Harvard or be a rocket scientist to know about all these things. All you need is common sense,” Phillar said.
“So we feel that having more engineers to work in the shipping industry and having pilots to captain ships and planes are the way forward. We need to train more pilots to become pilots of airline companies. Rehabilitate all the small airstrips in the country so that we can have people moving in and out of those areas delivering much needed services and projects.
“So far, we’ve put up to K5 million investment to get this place into a standard we would be happy with. Actually the reason why we are doing this is because we need more educated people.
“We are quite serious because we’ve put in a lot of resources into this endeavour,”
Phillar said the Government has to seriously empower private institutions in PNG who are helping the Government towards achieving Vision 2050.
“Government needs to seriously readjust its priorities. The way forward to do these things is to have small industries that create jobs. This institution is all about providing opportunities in creating industries and creating talents to make things work.
“I need the Government to support us and recognise what we are doing and take some serious partnership roles by sharing the cost of running privately-run institutions in the country and we can cut the cost on school fees and we work as a team,” he said.
“The Government has a mandate to support all developments that impact on the lives of people.
“We need to see areas where there’s money, where we can make foreign money come in, and we need to train people in those areas,” Phillar said.
Apiasets has four schools; Health Science, Education, Technical Studies, and Aviation.
The School of Health Science has Diploma in General Nursing, and Community Health Worker (CHW), the School of Education has Diploma in Primary Education and Diploma in Elementary Education, School of Technical Studies has Diploma in Electrical Engineering, Diploma in Building and Construction, Diploma in Marine Engineering, Diploma in Automotive Engineering, and School of Aviation has Aviation in Flying and Aviation Engineering.
“Those schools are essentially, the schools that create jobs. Most students who complete their studies from these schools always find jobs because we train them to be industry-ready,” Phillar said.
“Our courses and syllabus are industrial-oriented and as soon as they finish they pick up jobs,” he said.
Phillar reiterated that the two important catalysts of the society were teachers and nurses.
“That’s the reason why we put in more emphasis on elementary teacher training, primary teacher training, CHW training and general nursing training. We’ve also taken serious steps to contribute to infrastructure and the transport system in the country.
“We trained the first marine engineer for Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) here. There are so many engineers out there on international liners and national liners who come through the same process. We are already providing that opportunity for only a fraction of the cost.
“We have serious partners in Australia that support us for the training.
“We are not so much about maximising profits.
We are not trying to compete with anyone. We’re not into competition; we’re not trying to sabotage anybody’s progress.
We need support, we need experienced people from the industry, training institutions; and we need people to come around and work together with us,” Phillar said.
“We are not concerned with the school fee money that we make. We are more concerned with developing the human resource and giving some opportunity to our disadvantaged youths. And also people who really want to achieve certain things like becoming an airline pilot.
“To become an airline pilot is very expensive. To become a commercial licensed pilot the school fees in Australia, New Zealand or America would be about $200,000. In here we can train you for K78,000.
“We’ve structured our programmes in a way that disadvantaged Papua New Guineans’ dreams that have been shattered are captured in this regard.
“You have your dreams there, we don’t want you to just have your dreams; come here and we get you started and make you be the pilot you dream of becoming. We’ve already done that, we’ve already trained four pilots.
“It’s a big challenge but we’re not giving up.
“We have 64 staff here and half of the people we have are educated up to master’s degree level. We have two who are perusing PhD studies. And all put together, including the construction staff, we have about 102 staff. This institution has created employment for 102 staff,” Phillar said.
The institute was established in 2014. It has a secondary school and a college which accommodates boarding students.
There are plans to have branches nationwide and establish a university in the future.
Apiasets will also be sending two of its lecturers to do master’s degrees in Australia next year under its Graduate and Lecturer Management Cadet programme.
“If Papua New Guineans are out there and really want to support our endeavour in achieving the dreams and aspirations of the unfortunate, we want them to give us their support in whatever capacity they have. We need all the support from everybody because what we are doing is for the people of Papua New Guinea.
“We are Papua New Guineans for Papua New Guinea; mending peoples shattered dreams,” Phillar said.
By LYPENSON SOWENI