Vision 2050 needs graduates

University graduates have an important role to play in enabling Papua New Guinea realise its Vision 2050.

Acting Secretary of the Department of Higher Education Research, Science and Technology (DHERST) Professor David Kavanamur highlighted this at the launch of the academic year for Divine Word University (DWU) at the Madang campus on Friday 13th February, 2015.

“The first pillar of our Vision 2050 acknowledges the critical need for sufficient quality human capital development for country to ensure we are able to achieve future economic and social prosperity and environmental security,” said Prof Kavanamur.

“And every one of you students here today is able to contribute to attainment of this pillar, through dedication and commitment to your studies, and through final application of your newly-gained knowledge and skills when you enter our professional workforce,” he said.

Prof Kavanamur attended the ceremony on behalf of the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Honourable Malakai Tabar who could not attend due to the Parliament session.

He said the development of human capital was necessary to prepare the country for life after its dependency on income from the mining and petroleum sector.

“Indeed, our national imperative to develop our education, services, communication and tourism sectors, as we minimise our future dependency on minerals and petroleum, simply cannot be achieved without the expertise and the graduates that DWU aspires to produce,” he said.

Prof Kavanamur said PNG had a lot more work in higher education because only two percent of the population had tertiary qualification. He added that one of the criteria for PNG to move to the “middle income country” bracket is when 15 per cent of the population had tertiary qualifications.

Prof Kavanamur told the new students that they were part of privileged 5628 grade 12 leavers out of 21,000 who completed secondary studies last year who were selected to study in tertiary institutions this year and they ought to make use of the study opportunity.

He acknowledged the notable contribution of DWU towards human capital development and praised the University president Fr Jan Czuba and his staff for their commendable work.

“With DWU’s notable focus on quality academic programs and research, DWU has a tremendous role to play in the transformation of the economy of PNG,” he said.

Professor Kavanamur also commended DWU for being the first and only PNG university go through an external audit and post-audit review of its programs and activities few years ago.

President of DWU Fr Jan Czuba SVD said the University is committed to providing innovative teaching, learning and research for the betterment of PNG.

“DWU Community is committed to high quality, innovative learning and teaching to help each one of you to reach your full potential,” said Fr Czuba and he gave examples of the new initiatives.

These included the redevelopment of student dormitories and construction of new lecture facilities “to cater directly for the needs of the 21st-century student”.

The President challenged the students to be innovative learners and be attuned to the development needs and aspirations of their country.

“Our society does not need students who are only textbook educated; we need students who can engage positively with society’s development.

“You are all potential innovators in the sense that you can easily identify problems and solve them.”

“The bigger challenge, and where textbook education fails, is to enable students to overcome doubts and fears and take action.”

“The goal of DWU education is to assist each student to learn holistically - to apply the knowledge and skills she/he acquire to the sphere of everyday life,” said Fr Czuba.

Catholic Archbishop of Madang, Most Reverend Stephen Reichert OFM Cap who led the opening Mass called on the students to lead Christ-centred lives in his homily. He urged the students not to be distracted by various influences.

Archbishop Reichert invited the students to realise that attaining knowledge and skills were not enough and they must “strife to know the truth”.

“Strive to know the truth, be hungry to seek what is good, to understand what is right and wrong,” said archbishop Reichert.

The launch of the academic year was a culmination of a week of registration and orientation for the students. Lectures started on Monday 16th February. The theme for the 2015 academic year is “Core values and research underpin our search for quality”.