PNG-Australia alumni group launches Kokopo chapter

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday, May 25, 2011

THE Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association launched its Kokopo chapter last week at the University of Natural Resources and Environment (UNRE).
President Kelly Cook said the alumni was a young and vibrant association made up of PNG citizens who had the opportunity to study overseas and  who aimed to foster a network in the mobilisation of human resources in the country.
The alumni was established four years ago.
He said the association had a mission to contribute to the growth and development of PNG and to foster a productive relationship between the two countries.
Cook said, unfortunately, many PNG students who went for studies overseas were paid for by other governments that supported them through aid.
He said there was no structure in place in PNG to use human resources when they returned from their studies overseas.
“If foreign governments are giving us loans to send our human resources overseas to study and get degrees and if our government does not know who these people are and what they study, then what is the purpose?” he asked.
Cook said with the association members returning from university went through a debrief focusing on the impact they had while they were studying.
UNRE vice-chancellor Phillip Siaguru issued a challenge to people who went overseas to study to register with the PNG High Commission if there was no government policy to recognise students studying overseas.
“You tell them that you are there and you have to feel that you are Papua New Guinean because if you don’t take that lead, don’t complain,” he said.
He challenged members to give the alumni a PNG blend and not to let foreigners control it.
“Derive its constitution, understand it but provide heritage that is local and one that will make us Papua New Guineans take ownership.”
He said, for example, if the association thought that setting up an Australian processing centre in Manus was selling PNG too cheap, then they must say so.
“This country runs on a K3 billion budget with Australia giving us K1.4 billion.
“That is about one-third of the budget then we see why they can’t have their influence.”