The National,Thursday March 10th, 2016
WHEN officiating the launching of a new science block at Sogeri National High School on Feb 19, the venerable Tolai statesmen, Sir Ronald Tovue had a timely message for his mostly young audience.
“Girls and boys, this is your time, you will change this country. Many of you will become leaders, in government, in business, in your communities, because the opportunities which you are going through are better than what we went through.”
One of the first to attend the then Sogeri high school, Sir Ronald is among the now famous forefathers like Sir Michael Somare and Sir Paulias Matane who have had their hunger for the “white man’s knowledge” stoked at this historic institution in the Koiari mountains.
Returning to his alma mater for what was largely a ceremonial occasion, the former East New Britain premier urged the current students to think ahead to become leaders.
And it is true that resources available to students nowadays are far better than what Sir Ronald and his peers had used in their school days.
Yet in those days, driven by the desire to be counted and to make a contribution in an emerging new state, these pioneers have given their heart and soul to their learning.
Their mastery of the arts, social sciences, and sciences has helped to advance into areas of further training which prepared them to be engaged in the public service and other fields of nation building in the formative years. What they had lacked then, in classrooms and modern laboratories and other learning materials, they made up in their dedication to their pursuit of education – and most have succeeded to become who they are today.
However, to their advantage, students of those past generations, did not have the distractions students these have to strive with.
Modern technology especially in media and computing has made learning all the more easier yet at the same time, there are also pitfalls and distractions associated with such advancement.
The statesman also reminded the Sogeri students that while they and many more around the country are privileged to be in school there were Papua New Guinea children still missing out in education. Even the current government’s tuition fee-free education has cannot get every child into school.
For the privileged group of children and young adults who are in schools, this reality should also challenge them to learn not for their own future but with the rest of their generation in mind.
They should use their privilege and opportunities to make the best of it to become leaders and thinkers who can help those less fortunate to rise above their present station in life.
That should be the goal of attaining and education these days if the country is to make any real stride in human development and sustainable development.
For that to happen, students will have to education and trained not to be mere employees but more so to be critical thinkers, to be creators, innovators and enterprenuers.
There have been wonderful stories of young people driving change and motivating their peers and the community at large to better their lives.
Some who come into mind are Desmond Yaninen, Abigail Havora, Serena Sumanop, and many more.
These are young people who are motivated, driven and ready to take on challenges to make a difference.
And they are excellent role models for students in primary and secondary schools to emulate.
Students should be motivated to grab their life’s circumstances and turn them to their advantage. There should be an entrepreneurial spirit and a yearning in their young minds to better themselves.
And unlike the days of Sir Ronal Tovue, the present generation has the advantage of technology and this technology to help them in their learning.
Even with the government’s tuition fee-free education, it will be a long while before every Papua New Guinea child is educated.
Therefore, those that have been given the privilege of education should make the most of the opportunity and to challenge themselves to think creatively to help the less privileged later on in life.
Many, even young Papua New Guinean leaders, have testified that there is nothing more rewarding than helping others out of their poverty and ignorance.
It is a noble motivation for any student.