Tertiary education just as important

Letters, Normal

THE Universal Basic Education (UBE) will cost the country K16 billion over the next 10 years (2010-19).
It is aimed at giving everyone an equal opportunity to acquire education at the primary level (Grade 8).
It is the right of all the children to be educated and such an initiative is valuable and important to all children, parents, institutions and nation.
However, at the start of the school year, when students’ names appear in the newspapers, indicating who is going to which universities and colleges, it is totally discouraging and hurting to see that more than three quarter of all the Grade 12 students (about 20,000), who sat for the national examinations, will not attend any university or college.
Most of these students have done well and gave their best.
In the past decade, the GPA they have is a passing one. But now, many are unable to get a place in universities because there is not enough space for all.
Our education system is pushing and squeezing these young potential students out. 
For example, many students with the GPA of 3.5 (two As, two Bs) were not accepted to study law at UPNG, and others with GPA of 3.0 and above were also  not accepted in the other disciplines.
Again, this is because of limited space.
Our bottle shape education system is squeezing and pushing out bright students.
It is annoying and frustrating to see that nothing is being done to increase student intake at the tertiary level.
While we are making education available to our children at the primary level, we must also not forget that as they advance, we also need to cater for them in the high and secondary level.
I hope Vision 2050 does have something for tertiary education.
You don’t get a professional lawyer, accountant, economist, doctor, engineer, teacher, nurse, etc from Grade 8.
You get them from universities and colleges.
Why are most politicians building primary and secondary schools here and there?
Why is the Government spending billions of kina to build primary and secondary schools but not enlarging our universities?
I think there is a lack of vision here.
True prosperity and nation building require people with higher technical skills and training such as holders of diplomas, bachelor and master degrees and PhD.
We have thousands of primary schools and nearly 100 secondary school but only six universities and less than 20 tertiary colleges.
The four big state universities and most of the colleges, I believe, were built prior to Independence in 1975.
The Higher Education Minister Michael Ogio and the Office of Higher Education (OHE) should come out with a plan and  make a submission for another K16 billion to expand tertiary education to complement the UBE programme.
This money will allow all our universities to hire the best lecturers in the international market, build more lecture rooms and halls of residence, libraries, laboratories, computer labs and other facilities found elsewhere.
The Government, through the OHE, must also make arrangement with the world renowned universities for reserved spaces for our students to be educated there.
If, for example, we secure 100 spaces for Papua New Guineans to do PhD programmes in selected fields at a cost of K10 million a year, that would help build this nation.
If we continue this programme for the next 50 years, then PNG will be truly rich and things will be not the same again.


Jonah Lupi
Mt Hagen