The National – Tuesday, February 1, 2011
CONGRATULATIONS James Marape and the national government for the initiative to offer scholarships to top Grade 12 students.
They have realised the lack of national professionals in the workforce.
While congratulating them on the long-sightedness of this move, I would like to highlight some issues by being short-sighted because I think by being short and simple are the foundations to achieving long-term goals of having excellent professional elite in the workforce.
Although these policies of school of excellence and related scholarship programme for Grade 12 seem promising, they will only come to reality in six to 15 years when the first undergraduate, graduate degree holders join the workforce.
However, there will be a shortage of expertise, or professional skills, in the short-term, one to six years, in both the public and private sectors.
May I ask if Marape and the national government have a short-term approach to fix this problem?
The proposed policies raise questions of time, politics, administration and management among others. Time and politics would be the major hurdles.
Marape and the national government will need time to see these policies come to realisation, thus elections and new governments are eminent in PNG as seen from past experiences.
New governments start with new policies, rarely carrying on former governments’ policies.
Given this inevitability, I would suggest if the current government focus on an alternative short-term achievable education policy, especially in the part of scholarship, sponsorship or grants to aid young adult professionals either in public and private sectors to study in specialised fields (masters and doctorates programmes) overseas for the most needed areas of the private and public sectors.
There are many young first and/or second degree holders who are keen to further their education for the specialised areas for the betterment of the PNG work force.
Some have gone to the extent of successfully applying on their own and were admitted to graduate schools overseas but could not go because of financial constraints while others were lucky through scholarship from abroad like AusAID, the US embassy, Japan, EU and the World Bank as well as other international organisations and agencies. Many of them have the intelligence, experience, motivation and confidence to complete at the international level but do not have the money to pursue their dreams. Is the education minister aware of this issue?
I would like to this point out to Marape and the national government that this is your hidden, untapped gold mine. Tap into this by outlaying finances for them.
PNG will lose if these categories of educated elites are not provided with the financial backing to study abroad in specialised fields.