PNG’s Master of Deception Unveils New Giaman Promises to Save PNG’s universities. Academics, don’t expect your single structure pay raise until at least 2018!

By OHE Insider

Those who stay silent about the critical issues facing our country must understand that you are a big reason for the mess we’re in.   When we don’t speak out in this country in a way that captures the government’s attention, our government does nothing.    But when we make loud, persistent, even obnoxious noises that annoy some of you silent ones out there, guess what?  Government responds.

Peter O’Neill finally responded to months of clamor in the social media about the pathetic state of PNG’s universities with a media release that was published in last Thursday and Friday’s newspapers.   At long last he came forward to address the laughingstock state of our PNG public universities (UNRE in Vudal being world ranked almost as low as you can go on the Webometrics scale).  

We were bound to be disappointed with the PM’s response.   All he proved was that he truly is the Master of Deception.  He wants the people of PNG to think that he’s doing something to straighten out higher education in PNG, when actually he will ensure that current students come out of the system even dumber than the last group of graduates. 

Of course, most of us working in higher education have known for a long time that O’Neill isn’t serious about higher education.  He makes schooling his top priority, not education.  Thus he believes that our young people automatically, passively become educated if forced to be in school X hours per week, whether or not there are any textbooks or workbooks available, whether or not their teachers have the knowledge themselves to teach with authority, and whether or not there’s even a teacher.  

Twenty five students in the classroom or fifty, it doesn’t matter to Peter O’Neill.   Also, he reflects back to his own schooling and status as a multimillionaire.  He reckons that if he can do it, so can anyone else who received a pathetic education in PNG’s universities.  What O’Neill doesn’t take into account is that he succeeded because he self educated himself in the informal School Of Trickery, Lies and Con Games.    Even for Peter O’Neill, success came from having obtained a very good education.  He only neglects to see what kind of education he got and from where it came.     

Only last month did our PM finally seemed to understand the importance of high quality university education when he appointed Malakai Tabar, a man with great credentials, to be HERST Minister.   O’Neill then destroyed that good deed by further announcing and pushing forward his pet Western Pacific University project to be built at the old Ialibu airstrip, SHP.   K80 million was allocated in the 2014 budget to start this university to nowhere, with much more likely for 2015.  O’Neill is relying heavily on Chinese grants to build his university.  Maybe that is why he has taken to wear those unique Chinese dress suits that people are talking about?

Recently, we saw arguments published in letters to the newspapers claiming that the university wasn’t going to be in Pangia electorate actually, and that all proper procedures had been followed, which led to the selection of that site for PNG’s newest university.
 
Bullshit!   It was only last year that HERST was talking about privatising PNG’s universities and now we have a new public one!   The fact is that there was no proper procedure that took place within OHE to select this so called Western Pacific University.  It is a political vote buying scam, full stop.  What is the logical sense in creating a new institution before first solving the giant problems being faced by existing ones?    This year’s K80 million could have done wonders to help UPNG and nearly doubled its budget.  What is to show right now for the K80 million, even in Ialibu?

Let’s not limit ourselves to universities if we want to talk about better uses for K80 million than a university in Ialibu.  Some of the lesser colleges, including the old agricultural ones in Popondetta and Maprik, under the management of UNRE, are beyond belief.   You would not judge them as anything more than deplorably rundown vocational high schools.  They look like they belong in Somalia and make UNRE look like ANU by comparison!   Why is it that a nation of under 2 million population was able to support all these institutions with only a couple mines to bring in revenue, and today’s PNG with over 8 million and a heap of resource development projects can’t do it?

O’Neill (and now Minister Tabar) seem unconcerned about these institutions as they join in unison to promote the new university to nowhere.    If anyone thought Malakar Tabar would speak out against pure idiocy, you now have the straight evidence.   Tabar has fallen under the influence of “Devious David” Kavanamur, the fellow who worked behind the scenes to pick puppet Albert Mellam to be UPNG Vice Chancellor over the better qualified foreign candidate recommended by the screening committee.   All told, Tabar is showing himself to be a timid personality, now under the influence of general wantok Kavanamur.  Tabar will be used as O’Neill’s puppet to disguise the continuing decline of PNG’s public universities.  

In his media release, the PM made several specific deceptions.  First, he states that the UPNG external audit findings “are a wake-up call.”   Bullshit, bullshit!    Even moron have noticed that UPNG has been declining for decades.   The 2010 Namaliu and Garnaut report on the sad state of PNG’s universities states things crystal clear. 

Why is Peter O’Neill only now waking up to all this, when he even graduated from UPNG?    Does the PM’s feigned ignorance about the state of PNG’s universities indicate that he’s still in a childish snit that respected economist Ross Garnaut, co-author of the report, dared oppose O’Neill’s devious raid on Ok Tedi when Garnaut was serving as CEO of the PNG Sustainable Development Programme (Ok Tedi’s profit spender)?   Come on, Mr PM, you got your way.  You banned Garnaut from coming back to PNG.  Stop carrying a grudge and read the Namaliu-Garnaut report.  It’s filled with undeniable facts, and should have woken you up to the state of PNG’s universities years ago!   You obviously never noticed all the times you have visited UPNG. 

O’Neill lies outright when he says that what was found at UPNG might be true in other state owned universities.  There is no “might be” about it!  Stop covering up the fact that external audits have already been carried out at the other universities and the results of some of them are already known.   The overall situation is appalling. 

The PM goes on to say that “We [the government] must intervene otherwise the nation will face serious consequences in the future.”

Bullshit again!    We all saw the results of 39 years of decline in our PNG universities during the construction phase of the LNG project.   Thousands of workers from Fiji, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India were imported for all kinds of jobs needed by LNG because our university and technical college graduates didn’t make the mark.   The government cannot squirm out of this by saying that we don’t have enough qualified graduates.  Of course that is true but it ignores the equally important fact that there were plenty of UPNG, Unitech, UOG and UNRE graduates walking the streets during the LNG construction phase who applied for but did not get jobs with LNG.  They didn’t get jobs because their academic and applied experience qualifications were so poor.   That begs the question, why then were they allowed to graduate in the first place from UPNG and Unitech? 

In his media release, the Prime Minister outlined a series of measures to improve things, like bringing in expats to teach while sending out nationals overseas to upgrade their qualifications.  Great ideas, all of which cost a great deal of money. 

But guess what?   Peter O’Neill forgot to mention money and he forgot to mention any upgrade in university facilities to better serve the learning needs of the students!   The reason is that he has no intention to give PNG’s universities the massive hike in revenue that they need to stop their decline.   The PM already has sent word to all universities to take in thousands additional students fresh out of high school for 2016.   At the same time he has promised increases in their revenue for 2016 that will barely cover inflation.   Is this man blind or merely stupid?   Our universities are filled beyond capacity already.  What does he propose to do, put the students in army tents?    Where is the money for new dormitories, PM?  Where is the money for the additional teachers needed and the learning materials they require to get a good education? 

Peter O’Neill has told us indirectly that 2016 will be a year of further decline in PNG’s universities.

O’Neill ended this latest attempt to deceive the people of PNG by pulling two last tricks out of his hat.  First he said that the dual salary policy used by universities would be reviewed.    Fellow citizens, maybe the PM won’t tell you but I will:   that review took place last year!   Now it is time for developing specific policy for implementation.  But implementing a single salary policy will cost a lot of money and Peter O’Neill has spent so much money on DSIP stupidity that there is nothing left for the universities.   Better funding for PNG’s universities isn’t as effective at buying votes as putting the money into buying district pigs for DSIP mumus.    Don’t expect the PM to move very fast on ensuring that dedicated and competent national faculty receive the same salaries as similarly qualified expatriates.   Accept that you’ll have to live on your present salary for a few more years. 

O’Neill’s last trick was to instruct HERST Minister Taba to have a policy initiative ready by November for the NEC to consider.  That’s excellent timing for O’Neill, as it comes after the 2016 budget is finalised and passed.   

It is clear that things will be worse in 2016 for PNG’s universities.   Expect the PM to shove more students down their throats when they can barely handle the ones they’ve got.   There will be no pay raises for the best national academics until probably 2018 at the earliest the way O’Neill has arranged the timetable. 

Peter O’Neill has few real convictions to guide his life but there are a few.   First, he seems absolutely convinced that a good education comes by throwing students into classrooms for the required number of hours per semester, until it is time to award degrees.   No further investment needed! 

He also is convinced that it is perfectly acceptable for him to lie to the people of Papua New Guinea.