UPNG and Unitech have been falling backwards for many years. Divine Word passed up these 2 government unis long ago. The reason is obvious. DWU president comes from European culture and DWU is run more like a foreign uni. It doesn’t matter if Father Jan Czuba is a citizen or not. He grew up overseas and manages in a way the rest of the world aspires to. He has a European concept of time and in making decisions that look at long term needs. The way Father Czuba runs Divine Word is the way all PNG unis should be run.
At the moment our two government universities have management system mostly run by nationals. You can see the difference right way both these unis are rundown. University of Goroka shows better influence than Unitech or UPNG but still far behind DWU. The corruption at the government universities has created moral problems, rundown infrastructure and bad education for students. We have a problem with the concept of maintenance in PNG that is mostly absent from DWU. Compare with rundown buildings at UPNG or Unitech. We must stop pretending that poor quality is good quality as UPNG and Unitech always do.
Too many nationals compromise standards by giving second, third, fourth and tenth chances. When I was in school you could talk most national teachers into giving pass mark even if you failed. By comparison expats were strict. Students today say its the national teachers who come late or miss class, do not correct assignments properly and spend as little time as possible in their teaching work. Lazy teachers make students lazy so that they graduate not knowing much. Notice that DWU has many more expat teachers than any of the other universities. DWU students graduate with a much higher level of education.
Putting reputable foreigner or naturalised citizen in charge builds trust with donors worried about money misuse. AusAid supported Divine Word in many areas through the yeears with substantial infrastructure investment. Look at how DWU finds sources of money to run its programmes without government money. No national VC at the other universities seems so creative.
This does not mean that all foreign influence or all foreigners are good. What at issue are the standards we should create in teaching our next generation. The pool of possible teachers and administrators from overseas will always be much larger than what we will have in PNG. This means we are likely to get better teachers if we recruit from overseas. Other unis in the world, especially in developed countries, are full of foreigners because those unis hire the best they can find and don’t worry about colour of skin or nationality. Go to the UK if you want to see heaps of professors and managers from other countries working at their unis. UPNG and Unitech staffs are so concerned about localistion, giving jobs to their friends and serving political interests that they don’t see the standards falling down all around them.
Look truth in the eye. If our universities are to create a genuinely educated next generation we must start following the DWU immeidatley. Hire the best teachers and managers we can find, wherever in the world, and pay them accordingly. Find them from the developed countries mostly. We do not need teachers from other poor developing countries to teach our students.
Government stop complaining about extra cost of hiring expats. Make ExxonMobil pay some of the costs if they want access to our natural gas. Even a PNG uni full of expensive expats who are excellent teachers will pay off in the long run and cheaper than sending our students overseas for education. We can localise every other work area in PNG but only if we train our students to international standards. That means hiring the best possible people to teach our students and manage our unis, no matter where they come from.
On Thursday, 12th December 2013, the council of the PNG University of Technology will decide the fate of UniTech Vice Chancellor Albert Schram. At stake is the standard of education UniTech students will be getting in coming.
The Sevua investigation of Schram and resulting report has now attracted the support of Port Moresby’s anti-corruption activists, becoming part of their list of demands aimed at the perpetually misleading government of Peter O’Neill. The anger deepens and spreads because the UniTech scandal is a case study in the O’Neill government’s blatent tolerance of injustice. It is also another clear example of public servants being paid with our taxes to solve a problem when actually all they do is waste public money by backing off, running away, flip flopping, lying, or pretending as needed, to dodge responsibility. I have become damn angry reading what has been going on at UniTech because a lot of my pay is deducted to pay idiots like them and the money is totally wasted.
How did the UniTech affair reach its current eternal status, considering that only a year ago, students and staff were raving about their new VC? It appeared that Albert Schram was a rare catch for UniTech and for PNG, very different from the foreign carpetbagger or mercenary we usually attract. The evidence shows that he achieved much positive change in a short time.
However Schram quickly found himself with enemies as UniTech tried to straighten out its financial messes and past corruptions were uncovered. Schram’s opponents within UniTech seemed to be national staff who didn’t like a white man in charge. Fair enough except for the fact that the UniTech mess wasn’t created by foreigners and was getting progressively worse.
Because the foes of UniTech so quickly swung into action, they were first to cop the blame for the growing bullying of Schram. However as the months went by, social media voices began asking why his own supporters weren’t doing more to help. The student SRC President went from supporting to denouncing the VC, saying he knew things he couldn’t divulge (isn’t that the ultimate excuse to do nothing?). The Acting VC of UniTech presented himself as, in Martyn Namarong’s words, another sheeple, afraid to say anything that might offend people above him and threaten his paycheque. All this makes it look suspiciously like Don Polye, PNG’s wannabe grand guru of finance, was again telling everyone around him that he could solve all problems. But he didn’t.
The focus turned to OHE too. Why did no one at the top openly express displeasure at the shabby treatment of Dr Schram? As word spread that there was no evidence of any fraud by the VC, the silence by supposedly fair people became deafening. Were they aware of some other wrongdoing by Schram? If so, why didn’t they use that evidence to end the debacle quickly? And what was he guilty of, anyway? Of speaking honestly? Of being effective? Of getting too much support from UniTech students and staff? Of making a few thieves and liars unhappy?
It is past time that we stop running away from our responsibilities as citizens of this great nation and hoping Don Polye will solve all our problems (believe me, he won’t). Whether we are David Kavanamur, John Pumwa, or a village man on the streets, it is sinful to see injustice, close our eyes to it, and run the other way. As Martin Luther King wrote, to allow injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere. You don’t wait for God to act, you get up and take some action yourself if you see injustice taking place. We must speak our conscience even if it means breaking protocol. If we feel so personally threatened by what might happen if we speak out, we can always use a pen name to spread the truth, can’t we?
It seems that in PNG we follow a different pathway from what Martin Luther King advises. In fact sometimes it looks like we’re trying to convince the rest of the world just how mean, unjust and discriminatory we can be, usually to each other but also to foreigners like Schram. Why are we so self destructive, people? Why do so many of us allow incidents of injustice to stand and spread until it paints our entire country with a disgusting odour?
The particular injustice Dr Schram suffered was brought to him courtesy of an old PNG trick called letting things drag on forever. Dishonourable people know that if their opponents and supporters get really angry about some unjustice perpetrated on them, even their deep anger will fade with time. Thus, dishonourable people try to drag events on as long as possible, hoping that the other side will forget, give up and otherwise move on. Intentionally or not, the so called fair people help the dishonourables by doing nothing to bring the dispute to a speedy conclusion so that justice takes its proper course.
How can anyone who had any direct look into the Schram case now look at themselves in the mirror and not feel guilty about their role in forcing without cause a human being into exile for an entire year? Such people deserve no respect whatsoever. Shame on you political pompous asses, Don Polye and David Arore! Shame on you David Kavanamur, Simon Kenehe, and all the rest of you ineffective intellectual clowns at OHE! Shame on you, John Pumwa, and all your sheeple administrators! Shame on you, Nagora Bogan and the rest of you UniTech council members! For shame, for shame, for shame!!!!
Actually, these pretenders of decency seem to have no shame so we better start looking for what kind of dirty tricks they might be lining up against Schram, hoping to get rid of him without their fingerprints showing.
One sneaky trick the council could use to perpetuate injustice would be to force Schram to accept a buyout of his contract even if he wishes to serve out his term at UniTech.
Another trick would be to say that Dr Schram should go because he has divided Papua New Guineans and created disunity. I laugh! If Schram has caused any split at all, it was to unwittingly separate the good side from the bad side and the silent side that helps the bad side by default. That enlightenment was long overdue.
Or maybe the council should blame Albert Schram for speaking out in his defence and use that as basis for getting rid of him?
The excuses this council might come up with to get rid of Schram are endless but it’s time to call all this to a close and that is by marking the final day of judgement: 12th December. That is when the UniTech council meets and it can only end with one of two possible outcomes: Justice or injustice for Albert Schram.
The current injustice will stand and Schram will hang if the council dares to postpone action on the Sevua report again or gives any kind of excuse to ease Schram out of the VC job that does not relate to fraud or intentionally breaking his contract conditions while at UniTech that might be detailed in the Sevua report.
Justice will only prevail (dare we hope the council even considers this a possible outcome?) if Schram is declared innocent, set free by the UniTech council to resume his residency and his position at UniTech in Lae, and effectively protected against his foes, most of whom show no capabilities other than vindictiveness.
If you care about PNG and our reputation as a fair and just nation governed by activist caring leaders, not silent sheeple or corrupt pigs, carefully observe what happens on 12th December. Will the council release Schram to carry on his good work or will they let him hang?
See what appears in the newspapers right after the council meeting. Or find out if Acting VC John Pumwa communicates to his staff at UniTech what transpired. If you only see and hear a black hole in all directions, don’t accept it. The council members already ran away from being held accountable to the people in August when they last met and they aren’t going to pull that trick again. Demand here, there, everywhere that council members speak clear whether Schram finally got some justice here in PNG or if they decided to let injustice stand via any one of the possible tricks at their disposal.
Whatever message the council chooses to deliver, please join those of us who are determined to shout the council’s results so loudly that they reach all corners of the land and touches the heavens above. Make the world our permanent witness and the internet our permanent record of what those who had the power to make a difference did with respect to the Schram affair.
What if the council tries once again to hush up everything and stay silent? Man oh man, those will be the loudest words of all and just as easy to broadcast.