WHAT PNG is today is a product of its education system. It is a system that has produced learned and professional people who lead in all areas of national life.
But it is also a system that has produced a lot of frustrated people who do not feel as if they belong. Worse, they feel that the education system that has given them hope from the beginning has let them down in the end.
Educating people this way is like taking them on a journey whose end is only formal employment in the modern economy. There is little done to equip students to also think and work for themselves instead of others after school.
The economy has only a limited number of formal jobs. Secondary schools and especially tertiary institutions prepare people for those few jobs. A large majority of young people, of course, are pushed out because of the limited spaces.
Last year, for instance, over 17,000 Grade 12 students from secondary schools nationwide missed out, according the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology.
It is a grim situation that must somehow be tackled as it will only lead to further unemployment, poverty and crime.
Alternative education pathway is crucial
Continuing from last week, we speak to Samuel Tam (Papa Sam) about his alternative education system, the Second Generation Stret Pasin Stoa Scheme (SSS) and how it can help to alleviate socio-economic problems in the country…
Weekender: What is the Second Generation Stret Pasin Stoa Scheme?
Papa Sam: During the past 25 years from 1995 to 2021, I developed a unique entrepreneurs-centred (not business-centred) home-grown, inclusive, alternate, performance and action learning business-class education system to develop true wealth in a person, not matter what industry she/he wishes to participate in. During this period I discovered that everyone needs to be viable – housewives, Christians, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc. The Personal Viability Business Scheme (PVBS) aka Grassroots University, based on principles of Stret Pasin Stoa Scheme (SSS) is an inclusive training programme. There is no entry requirement and it is open to all including:
- Grassroots, especially the 80 per cent of the population in rural areas engaged in micro or subsistence enterprises
- Entrepreneurs who are involved in small, medium or large enterprises; and
- Corporate employees
- Weekender: What are the qualifications acquired through this education pathway?
Papa Sam: Apart from the primary, secondary and tertiary levels (Level 1 to 7) in PVBS, HDI is able to offer participants the opportunity to achieve an internationally recognised professional degree by the Global University of Lifelong Learning (Gull) in California, USA. There are two categories of professional (not academic) bachelors, masters and doctorate degree pathways; the Professional Entrepreneur Degree for entrepreneur development, and the Professional Corporate Degree for private and public institutions or corporations.
Weekender: How long did it take to develop the PVBS or Se
Papa Sam: When I decided to upgrade the SSS in 1995, I had to investigate thoroughly two components: a) Needs of people – market survey, b) The capitalist system. It took three months of research before I was ready to map out a draft plan for the second generation SSS which is the PVBS. From my research, it seems the main cause of poverty is dependency and the absence of business-class education. Dependency kills innovation, and creativity. Dependency promotes free money handout mentality, laziness, nepotism and corruption. Armed with these findings I began to create and develop a new performance-based education system to address dependency, physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and financial poverty.
The second generation SSS or PVBS must be based on the preparation of viable people who in turn are likely to develop viable businesses.
Weekender: In your thinking what is a person viable person?
Papa Sam: The definition of a viable person is one who can think independently and prepare projects, set goals, design action plans, train, practise, implement and achieve goals on time and within budget. PVBS must be or incorporate the following: Enterpreneur-centred; mind development for independent thinking and action; business-class knowledge based on experience and not working class or academic knowledge; demand-driven and not supply-driven; a social banker who is focused on customer needs first and foremost; a financial support system for viable entrepreneurs; teamwork among Papua New Guineas; and a business support system.
Weekender: What does it mean to be people-centred and not project-centred?
Papa Sam: Most development programmes are not focused on people’s needs. Coffee projects are focused on coffee, not coffee farmers. Stret Pasin Stoa was focused on trade store management and repayment of loans, not on the needs of the entrepreneurs and their families. Applications for bank loans are focused on the viability of a business, its ability to repay and not on the viability of the borrower. Religion is focused on the word of God and not its application, how people can prosper from using the word of God. In my experience it is human capital, talent and passion that sustain projects. Many successful businesses decline rapidly without the passion of the founders who originally created the businesses. Profit-driven businesses generally do not last long. When I was on the PNG Development Bank board from 1982 to 1988, we used to travel to provincial locations for board meetings and to inspect projects. I remember seeing neglected and poorly maintained plantations. I came to the conclusion that most people do not have the passion for agriculture projects and businesses. They are only doing it to make money. Without care, attention, love and passion such business are not sustainable. In my opinion this is the main cause of poverty and I needed to develop and education system to develop human resources to human assets.
Weekender: How is PVBS promoting integral human development?
Papa Sam: Integral human development is a goal in the national constitution yet there are no formal institutions in PNG to develop people, except HDI. PNG is blessed with natural resources yet most people are poor. Why? It is not resources that make people rich, it is their ability to organise and use resources that makes them rich. Preparation of human assets is the key ingredient to success in life, sports, business, etc. How well PVBS coaches prepare praxis (trainees) is crucial to sustain success in all walks of life. HDI students should have a detailed plan to develop their character and competence which is called Project Me. Business success is dependent on a viable person plus a viable project. The viable person is more important than the viable project. A viable person will always attract riches and all good things in life. This is why personal viability is true wealth. The sooner you prepare to develop your personal viability or personal power the sooner you are ready to prosper in life. Opportunities are everywhere all the time. But who is ready to capitalise on opportunities? Those who are prepared, of course. HDI coaching is about preparing a person’s viability.
Weekender: What is mind development in PVBS?
Papa Sam: True education is mind development. Very few people have the ability to think independently, research, decide, plan, prepare, train, practice, implement and achieve goals on time. The current education system is focused on imparting and memorising knowledge and physical skills. Academic education is important if you wish to become a professional. The main focus of academic education is to prepare students for formal employment, not on preparing people for prosperous living. We impart knowledge but do not teach students to use knowledge. We preach Biblical knowledge but do not show people how to apply it and prosper in life. It is no wonder 90 per cent of the world’s population remains poor.
Weekender: Many have trained in PV but why aren’t there many success stories today?
Papa Sam: After 10 years of teaching PV, I realised that the system is not working even though most of my students have high praise for it. Why? I made a mistake when I assumed that people will be prosperous when they receive life-education knowledge. The education of imparting knowledge is ineffective because students do not know how to apply or use what they have learnt. People have been preaching the Bible for 2,000 years yet how many people are living Biblical principles of wisdom and are living prosperous lives? So I had to design and education system of action learning. In other words, learning experiential knowledge from mistakes. I developed a series of action-learning courses called “games” which include Game of Money, Game of the Rich, Game of the Business-class, Game of Management Systems, Game of Investments and Game of Brands.
Weekender: Why is business-class knowledge ritical?
Papa Sam: In 1995 I read Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad Poor Dad and realised that I had to develop an alternative education system to deliver business-class knowledge because people going into business with working-class knowledge cannot possibly compete with people armed with business-class knowledge. Poor people work hard and rich people work smart. Work smart education is priceless. Going into business armed with working-class knowledge is suicidal if you are competing with business class entrepreneurs.
Weekender: After attaining PVBS knowledge, the emerging entrepreneur would require credit. Where does he/she go?
Papa Sam: All entrepreneurs need the services of a bank sooner or later. It is essential to have a bank to complement the second generation of SSS. During the past 25 years, I have spoken to many bankers and not one of them was interested in PVBS until I met Gunanidhi Das, the CEO of Women’s Micro Bank. Das is a social banker who is more interested in the well-being of his customers rather than just making money. In December 2018, HDI and WMB signed an MSME partnership agreement to facilitate the growth of MSMEs, especially those run by women.
Weekender: Explain the team work that is espoused by HDI
Papa Sam: Using the traditional wantok system, people can support each other. After 25 years of implementation, the real break-through for PVBS arrived. Florence Saia, Henry Vuia, David Karis and the Eagle Team proved beyond doubt my conviction that Papua New Guineans have the capacity to learn how to think and act independently through PV education. People used to think only Asians could prosper in business so I really needed some Papua New Guineans to demonstrate that anyone can prosper in life, with or without formal academic education. The Eagle team development a mastermind organisation to support others.
Weekender: How do you intend to spread the PVBS message from here on?
Papa Sam: We now need to spread PVBS education throughout PNG and to other developing nations to help alleviate poverty, achieve self-reliance and financial independence. We need to make the education accessible using modern technology to create an online programme. In 2018 HDI established a SSME partnership programme and by 2020 there were five development partners. More will join later.
- Next week: Social banker – how Women’s Micro Bank is promoting PVBS.