Universities in PNG managed only by the best can survive in the competitive real world
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.