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UNITECH SAGA, THE INSIDE STORY


By LIVINGSTON HOSEA,
UNITECH SRC PRESIDENT 2013

I feel urged and justified that you as tax payers and sponsors of Students in Papua New Guinea University of Technology deserves the right and are entitled to know the story of what is happening to the institution where your children are attending. I believe that equality and transparency to information dissemination is what every stake holder by law deserves a right to. The media has been flooded by a few individuals who are of interest to this institution. I quote from the Mediation Team Report that OHE commissioned a four-member Mediation Team, namely;

Mr. Daniel Kapi (Team Chairman) - retired Senior Civil Servant and former Deputy Chairman of the National Strategic Plan Taskforce that produced the PNG Vision 2050 and a respectable community leader.

Dr. Henry Okole- Senior Research Fellow in governance and institutional matters at the National Research Institute. He is also an advisor to the Provincial and Local-level Government Programme (PLGP) under the Coffey International. He was a member of the teaching staff at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) from 1993 to 2004, and he served as the Chief of Cabinet of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States in Brussels from 2005 to mid-2010.

Mr. Andrew Kwimberi - Senior Lawyer and private practitioner who specializes in conflict mediation and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). He has been integral to the ADR programme in PNG for last few years under the leadership of Justice Ambeng Kandakasi who is the chairman of the Judicial Committee on ADR.

Mr. Jerry Wemin - President of the PNG Human Resource Institute, former CEO and Registrar under the Engineering Act, of the Institution of Engineers PNG, former senior executive of the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation, Member of the UPNG Council, Company Director, senior lecturer at the University of Papua New Guinea, and business consultant.

These men are of high repute and solid integrity and as such I respect and consider their recommendation commendable and mature. Their findings are sufficient to indicate and uphold the integrity of their work. Following is one of the statements that they have made and I quote;

“it is already evident that he (Dr. Schram) walked into a
Pre-existing minefield of poor governance and bad administration practices).”

There was sufficient information obtained from the Mediation exercise to suggest that there were fraudulent and criminal practices that took place over the years. An Investigation Team - ideally to be led by the Department of Finance – must be immediately commissioned to follow up on the allegations given its wider repercussions to an important state asset and its core place in the welfare of Papua New Guinea;

I feel urged and justified that our general public and ordinary citizens deserves an equal opportunity and a right to the press to know the substantive truth of issues that are affecting the nation.

I feel justified to voice and say that the our Prime Minister was misinformed and he made the statement that was published on page 2 Post Courier dated 20th February, that reports were received that the University students have staged a protest demanding the return of Dr. Schram.” This is a major flaw and mistake, time and again when the First Secretary for Minister for Higher Education Science and Technology called me I told him that the students are attending classes and there is no disruption whatsoever and if you are hearing rumors these are mere speculations.
The students voted me to be there Student leader and I see it unnecessary to start on a negative note. A protest was what everyone expected after Dr. Schram was treated in such an “unfair and unjustified” manner at the International Airport. There was no documentation but was told by immigration officials that the Prime Minister black-listed him. He was not even allowed to say good bye to his wife. I understand the process to be that hard documents must be processed to effect such an action. Verbal provision was an abuse of process.

After this incident it was expected that the students will boycott class right after registration but it never happened. I would like to demonstrate a different student leadership, the University students will not protest unnecessarily when it is not right to. I as a student leader saw that the students’ priority is learning. Bringing Dr. Schram back is necessary because for effective learning to take place someone must lead and be the pillar of quality education. Without a father, there are no children, without are leader, there are no people, without a Vice Chancellor there are no Students and staff. We have an Acting Vice Chancellor and that means that the Vice Chancellor needs to be present.
I decided to engage in a diplomatic dialogue to find the right avenues to resolve this matter. I am only requesting for his return that he clear his name. If Dr. Schram’s papers and degrees are fraudulent per claimed by a “31 page document” then he can be subjected to the Laws of this Land. The students are not supporting a man, we support the transparent and accountable attitude that this man Dr. Schram possess. An agent of change and a hope inspirer, a person with so unique and rare administrative ability, he has achieved so much in a span of one year in this University and I believe that if he stays for a year or two he will prove his critics wrong.

I wish to set the records right, the students have set their priorities right. We never protested from day one and we will not. We are not even interfering in Administrative matters. We as major clients to the University are asking for what we feel we rightfully deserve. We are not asking for anything that is outside of our perimeters of benefit. We always wanted better lecturers, messing facilities, dormitories, a Unitech Environment, Internet and better books in the Matheson Library. Dr. Schram has proven that he can economize with Limited budget to provide most of the needed services to the University.

This country and University needs man of such caliber and ability. Men who will contribute and mentor us to be change makers in a country that is yearning for positive change and Prosperous PNG, men who will give us nets and teach us how to fish for ourselves and not give us fish. It’s about time that Papuan New Guineans carry their own country, but before we do that we need preparation and that preparation is now being facilitated by Dr. Albert Schram as Vice Chancellor.

We need man to fight corruption. We need to start somewhere and I believe that if we can mentor University students to be accountable and transparent they will take it to their work place and it will be cultured in them. This will prospect a bright future for our country; such an exercise is called “VISION”. That is the way forward to accomplish and establish the vision 2050.

I quote “Education is key driver for achievement of Government’s Vision 2050. Tertiary institutions play a key role in national development and international competitiveness. Therefore it is critically important to the wellbeing of Papua New Guinea and the people that education as a service is properly integrated. The outcome of skills and expertise, once inculcated into society, is essential for state building and national development over the long term.”

Additionally, the fact that the national government annually commits public funds to national institutions such as the UNITECH demands accountable and transparent processes in ways that would show proper use (and therefore expected outcomes) and acquittal of public monies.”(Mediation Report, 28th Nov 2012)

We talk about human capacity building and strongly being passionate about human intellect, these all will be only ideas if we don’t fix UNITECH. I believe the very last learning institution is the University and if we don’t care about it then which mechanism is the brain and future of this country? Where are we heading?
The pillars of change are rare and few and Dr. Schram is one. History time and again repeatedly tells us that individuals have changed the course of history. Mahatma Gandhi, Jr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela have taken a bold stand and have shaken the world. We need to have a leader; an individual that gives you hope and the one that keeps you going even when all seems to fail.

There is no legitimate hard evidence or paper in the Unitech Registry regarding Dr. Schram’s termination; most of the decisions are pending the Supreme Court appeal. On the contrary, the former Council was dissolved by NEC and an Interim Council was in place led by Prominent PNG Citizen Sir Nagora Bogan. The interim Council per recommendations;

An interim Council, should one be created, must review rules and procedures for the operations of the University Council. It is strongly recommended here the terms of Chancellor and VC must be limited to two terms if served consecutively;


The recent appointment process of the new VC - for one reason or another - is shrouded in mystery. Apart from a few ‘straight shooting’ academics, it is a topic that not many people really want to talk about. A closer probe is worthwhile and it might reveal Council’s incompetence and lethargic handling of this important matter/process. Conflicting information obtained from the mediation process seem to suggest the appointment process was botched. This happens to be the very issue that triggered off much of the episodic convulsions since the new VC took office in February 2012. As part of the Terms of Reference for the proposed Investigation Team, the appointment process of the current VC must be revisited;

Per the latter recommendation the Interim Council Revisited the appointment process and saw in their Wisdom logical and reasonable to re-appoint Dr. Schram’s position as VC for two terms (six years). The Minister for HERST was there at Parliament House when he was re-appointed.

Regardless, court battles continued to go on, which then got the attention of the Prime Minister who came to Unitech in January 14th to intervene in this Unitech Saga. The PM’s ruling was clear, two months suspension of VC Dr. Schram on full pay, (This means that he is an employee of the University) to allow for the investigation and as such, every court case and any proceedings that will disrupt the Sevua Inquiry must be dropped.

However, when Dr. Schram flew back into the country in February 8th 2013, he was deported to Australia. This was a breach of the TOR by Prime Minister in the January 14th closed door meeting in the council room. Minister Arore who was part of that closed door meeting with the Prime Minister in PNG University of Technology was there to see Dr. Schram being deported. The integrity of the Decision of the PM was not protected.

Initially, it was said and reported that Dr. Schram was 1deported, after being asked in Parliament by Jiwaka Governor it was stated that Dr. Schram 2doesn’t possess any work permit. There is inconsistency and flaw in the two statements, what is the truth tell the country and tell the students?

We the students would like to request the Prime Minister & the Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister to allow Dr. Schram come to PNG using his work permit, which we believe that in the Foreign Affairs and Immigration Ministry, there was no proper documentation to revoke and cancel his Work Permit and if now the system is revisited a major flaw will be discovered and or Dr. Schram work permit is still valid.

Let Dr. Schram clear his name, if he has fabricated his papers per the allegation then PNG Laws will apply to him? The Students and Staff will respect the integrity of the Law.

The WAY FORWARD

1. Dr. Schram legally is still an employee of the university; the decision of council members of 8th of November is under revision by the Supreme Court.

2. Baseless allegations in Lae and POM made by Saulep needs to be dropped to protect the integrity of the PM’s decision in January 2013.

3. Consultation on the ToR for the inquiry need to take place with Chancellor, Sir Nagora Bogan.

Furthermore, we invite anyone to do a quick Google on Dr. Schram’s or see the cover page of his book at (http://www.albertschram.org/CUP/svg/page0001.xhtml), and find His book on railways in Italy on Amazon.com. In it he refers to his thesis in the acknowledgements and in the bibliography on page 183.

His qualification was the subject of debate and I know that those who are interested are not doing enough research. Find out more and advice.

As per one of the other recommendations, I again quote;

“Students should not interpret this to mean that the VC is to be blamed for everything that has transpired (it is already evident that he walked into a pre-existing minefield of poor governance and bad administration practices).”
Senior statesmen have already done findings that is sufficient to question the credibility of the Stagg Council, now what else do we want?
The truth will still prevail, it might take long but still it will prevail.