Varsities key to strengthen national leadership and governance

Papua New Guinea’s universities have a major role in building leadership and improving governance, says Australian diplomat, Stuart Schaefer.

Mr Schaefer who is the Minister (Development Cooperation) at the Australian High Commission pointed this out when launching the academic year for Divine Word University in Madang on Friday 7th February, 2014.

The academic year was launched under the DWU’s theme for the year: “International Partnerships for Quality of Governance, Learning and Research”.

Mr Schaefer who attended the ceremony in place of Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Her Excellency Deborah Stokes, challenged staff and students of DWU to demonstrate empathy for the governance and leadership challenges of PNG and work hard to offer solutions.

“Without leadership, without your engagement on critical issues, the improved governance that is necessary for sustainable development will never materialise,” said Mr Schaefer.

“Governance affects development possibilities and outcomes.

“We know that effective institutions and organisations are critical to good governance and therefore to development,” said Mr Schaefer.

The launch of the academic year began with a Eucharist celebration at the DWU’s St Joseph Freinademetz Chapel led by Archbishop of Mt Hagen and chairman of the DWU Council, Douglas Young. In his homily based on the University’s theme for the year, Archbishop Young spoke about the need for the university community to foster partnerships with likeminded organisations and individuals to do what is right for the country according to the Christian gospel.

“Life of a Christian is living the gospel in its fullness,” said Archbishop Young. He said the Christian being is one that is concerned about others and working with the like-minded for the common good.

DWU President Fr Jan Czuba urged students and staff to reflect on the “core values” of DWU which amplify the characters one must display for the greater good of PNG and the world.

Fr Czuba said “Core values are the foundation of an organisation.”

Mr Schaefer commended DWU for its contributions towards PNG’s development.

He said Australia recognises DWU’s contributions towards the development of PNG and has partnered with the university through the PNG Incentive Fund and other ways.

Mr Schaefer commended Fr Czuba for his strong leadership since the conversion of the former Divine Word Institute (DWI) to a University in 1996 and enabling the university to make a positive difference.

He told the students to consider themselves as a privileged minority in a country where thousands of young people do not have the opportunity to study at a university.

Archbishop Young also said the same thing earlier in his homily.

“The fact that you are here shows how greatly you value education,” said Mr Schaefer.

“Nelson Mandela stated that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

“Education is a key driver of change. It exposes us to new ideas and knowledge.”

“It gives us the confidence to contest the status quo. We acquire the skills to apply our new knowledge and develop solutions appropriate to our circumstances.

“Education also enables us to gain technical skills that can help you to contribute to PNG’s economy, innovate and create new products or ways of doing things, and influence government policies and programs” said Mr Schaefer.

“But education alone is not enough to change the status quo.

“To fully realise education’s transformative effects, a nation needs to have clear, strong leadership, quality governance and an environment conducive for economic growth.”

(The full text of Mr Schaefer’s speech is also posted on the DWU Website).

As part of the launch, DWU also unveiled its new 54-seater bus that the university bought from Japan for the students’ use. Archbishop Young blessed the bus after celebrating the Eucharist. The new bus is in addition to a 45-seater bus DWU also brought in from Japan three years ago and several smaller capacity buses.