By MALUM NALU
PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare has emphasised the importance of discipline among staff, students and administration in higher learning institutions in the country.
In his keynote address at the 13th graduation ceremony of the University of Natural Resources and Environment (UNRE) at Vudal, East New Britain province, last Friday he said PNG had been experiencing frequent disruptions to classes that were not addressed in a timely and convenient manner.
The UNRE has had its share of student unrest with a major disruption to classes last year.
“This is of grave concern to the Government that provides the greater part of finances for infrastructure, logistics equipment as well as subsidies and scholarships,” Sir Michael said.
“It is of equal concern to parents and guardians when their children’s learning is disrupted as a result of conflicts.
“On average, the cost of educating a student per year is K17,000.
“As a developing nation, we cannot afford such indulgences and must take positive steps towards minimising the likelihood and antagonism between the various groups on our campuses.
“As head of the executive Government, I challenge councils and administering authorities of all tertiary institutions of education to explore and put into place appropriate and acceptable guidelines or rules that will promote, enhance and sustain harmony and orderly operations of all institutions of learning.”
Sir Michael called on the six universities and three research institutions to share resources and where possible, to conduct joint research.
“Research should influence and inform teaching at our universities,” he said.
“It should drive development and contribute to building research capacity of staff and our top students.
Sir Michael said higher education played a vital role in the Government’s Vision 2050 to ensure that PNG had the necessary human resource capacity to implement the plan and contribute to the social and economic development of PNG over the next 40 years.
Sir Michael congratulated graduands on their achievements and wished them strength and perseverance in their working life.
Students from both of the University’s campuses – Vudal and Popondetta – received their qualifications.
Damien Toki graduated with a masters degree in management while 13 of his post-graduate course mates received graduate certificates in management.
In the undergraduate stream, 23 students received bachelor degrees of tropical agriculture, while 89 students received diplomas in tropical agriculture.
Forty-five of the diplomats came from the University’s Popondetta campus.
Preparations for Sir Michael’s visit were restricted to the UNRE.
Local communities cleaned up the road from Kokopo to Vudal and students from several primary schools lined up along the road with flags to welcome him as he traveled to the UNRE campus.