Press Statement from WPU Chairman
11th June, 2021
This formal press statement is a follow up to my last press release published after my visit to the Western Pacific University (WPU). In terms of physical infrastructure development, it continues to be a work in progress but, as Council members have already seen, the planning, the rules, academic and nonacademic policies surpass those of most other tertiary educational entities in PNG and throughout the South Pacific since they are benchmarked against the best practices in the global higher education sector.
On 24 April 2013, by virtue of its decision 299/2013, the National Executive Council (NEC) approved the establishment of a new national university in Ialibu/Pangia District in the Southern Highlands Province. Over the course of the next eighteen months the Government’s response to the NEC’s decision took shape:
- NEC approval was given on 30th August 2013 for the composing instructions by way of a draft Bill; The First Legislative Counsel vetted and issued a Certificate of Legal Compliance on the proposed Bill;
- Parliament, on 27th August 2014, unanimously passed the 2013 WPU Bill with a majority vote of 71-0; and
- the Western Pacific University Act 2014 came into force on 8th November 2014 (Certified No. 36 of 2014).
The University was established by Act of Parliament in 2014 and represents a major impact project initiated by the previous Government to address longstanding access issues faced by the higher and technical education sector in its struggle to cope with the exponential influx of GradeTwelve (12) students seeking their right to tertiary education. It therefore became imperative to address the urgent needs of human resource capacity building in Papua New Guinea.
The current PNG Government recognised the causal relationship between access to higher education, human development and societal improvement in the belief that sustained, targeted, investment in tertiary education would lead to economic growth and social advancement.
Aerial Picture of WPU Campus. Dormitories & Student Mess Red Roofs, Administration, recreation, staff houses in blue roofs
Western Pacific University is established on customary land adjacent to Ialibu Township (Koromi) and the construction of the University commenced in June 2017. The project plan included the scope of works; bill of quantities; risk management plan and process; service agreement templates; finance and administration system; technical specifications and drawings.
In three short years, despite all the challenges this project has faced, WPU has managed to construct the University and admit its first students, due to the remarkable leadership given by Professor Jan Czuba and his management team. As Chairman of the Council, together with my fellow Council Members, we need to congratulate Professor Jan Czuba and trust we will continue to see the entire project come to its full fruition without any further political interference which, as you are all aware, is causing a great deal of concern.
On 20 November 2019 the ‘Aid Project on Western Pacific University of Papua New Guinea (Self-Built Mode) Implementation Minutes’ were signed by Mr Liu Linlin, Economic and China (PRoC), Mr Koney Samuel, the Secretary for National Planning and Monitoring and Professor Fr Jan Czuba, Secretary for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology.
Sir Peter Meeting with Academic Staff in Board Room of WPU Campus
The Government of the People’s Republic of China and WPU reached an agreement for the scope of work to be carried out and the provisions of grant. Thorough due diligence was taken throughout the negotiations of this grant prior to the signing of the minutes. This funding from the Government of the People’s Republic of China, as agreed by both parties, will be used for: one lecture complex building; one fully digitalised library, three student dormitories, six staff houses to a total value of Kina 38 million. Those buildings will add value and support the ongoing creation of an outstanding learning and teaching environment in which to deliver quality digital education.
Student state-of-the-art Classroom
In common with all other universities in Papua New Guinea, WPU is a self-accrediting higher education institution and its academic programs have therefore been approved by the University. WPU’s Foundation Year was developed through partnership with the University of New England to ensure that WPU is not only meeting national standards but also international academic standards. The bachelor programs were developed with the University of Information Technology and Management through a Memorandum of Cooperation between both Universities.
The National Higher Technical Education Board (NHTEB) has the power to recognise or deny registration or accreditation of academic programs approved by a University. The NHTEB, during its Board Meeting no#03/2020 on 7 December 2020, deliberated on the WPU Foundation Year and permitted trial of this program for implementation and will, in due course, review the following Bachelor programs: International Business Management (BA); E-Business and Digital Marketing (BA) and Computer Science (ENG) (Engineering BA in Computer Science). Similarly, all the academic and non-academic policies that have been developed meet the national standards for quality assurance and are benchmarked against the international standards developed in partnership with both of the universities mentioned above.
I also had the opportunity to speak with WPU’s pioneer students who had recently embarked on their introduction to Moodle (the online Learning Management System) that is utilised by WPU. Without exception, they were all very happy to be at WPU.
WPU’s philosophy of education is expressed in its logo, which symbolises a genuine mind that opens the way to new knowledge to invent a future. The logo therefore does not have frames. Within this logo, the University's Latin motto is clear: Pro Deo et Patria ‘For God and Country'.
Students & Staff of WPU
The bird of paradise and colours blue and gold are vital University identifiers, portraying the unifying brand element across a very culturally diverse country and the University’s determination to be a unifying factor in the country.
Western Pacific University is also a testament to the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology’s (DHERST) commitment to the roll-out of the i-PNG strategy of creating a network of closely linked higher education institutions through digitalisation, with each institution providing access and quality through digital education service delivery.
On this note, the Chairman and the University Council of Western Pacific University would like to thank DHERST for facilitating this project, and particularly Professor Fr Jan Czuba and the former Secretary, Professor David Kavanamur for providing exceptional leadership. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Department of National Planning and Monitoring, Department of Treasury and the Department of Finance for their guidance and support in the process of establishing Western Pacific University.
Whilst the campus continues to build its infrastructure and prepare to receive future cohorts of students, upon its completion we look forward to being the first fully digitalised University in Papua New Guinea. We are proud of our well qualified academic and non-academic staff and look forward to enrolling our second cohort of students for the 2022 academic year.
In closing, I would like to congratulate the current and former Government for their foresight in establishing WPU which has set a new benchmark in higher education in PNG.
Authorised by Sir Peter Barter, PhD (Hon) GCL, Kt, OBE
Chairman of the Western Pacific University Council
Western Pacific University registers 51 pioneer students for the inaugural academic year
17th March, 2021
Western Pacific University has registered 51 students for the inaugural academic year. Amongst the 51 pioneer students are 14 young women. Registration took place between the 22nd and the 28th of February and the inaugural academic year started on Tuesday the 2nd of March, 2021. Out of respect for the Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, the celebrations that had been planned to mark the Western Pacific University’s inaugural academic year launching were cancelled.
All pioneer students will undertake the Foundation Year program. This program is a compulsory course of study for students seeking entry to a Bachelor’s program. The aim is to provide students with the foundational academic knowledge and skills required to successfully complete further study via online, blended and face-to-face delivery.
Students were selected through the National Online Application System (NOAS) set up by the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology. The selection system is available to grade 12 students throughout Papua New Guinea.
Leading up to registration on campus, the WPU Administration communicated with students via their contact details that were attained from the student’s NOAS account. Initially communications proved slightly challenging as some students were non-responsive through phone and/or email, whilst other students were in continuous communication until they arrived on campus.
The first co-hort are a good representation of all four regions of the country, including 1 student from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Pictured are two pioneer female students of Western Pacific University, Pouna Egi (in maroon jumper) and Samantha Aiap (in green and yellow tee-shirt). They are seated in the WPU student mess and look forward to studying at Western Pacific University.
Western Pacific University Executive Chair, Professor Fr. Jan Czuba speaks of the Late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare’s contribution to developing the PNG education sector.
16th March, 2021
During the Western Pacific University’s tribute service to the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare, GCL, GCNG, CH, CF, SSI, KSG, PC, WPU’s Executive Chair, Professor Fr. Jan Czuba spoke of how our founding father’s supporting actions helped to initiate the introduction of internet access to higher education institutions in the country.
The tribute service was held in early March in the administration building of the newly established Western Pacific University campus in Ialibu-Pangia District of the Southern Highlands Province. A small delegation of invited guests joined the staff and students for the memorial service. Invited guests included a handful of representatives from the different wings within the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Western Pacific University Council Member representative Marlene Philip, representatives from the National Department of Finance and National Higher Education Board representative George Bopi.
Both Professor Fr. Jan Czuba and Mr. Bopi paid special tributes to the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare by highlighting his contributions to developing the education sector in our country.
Professor Fr. Jan Czuba emphasized that the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare was passionate about improving the country’s education system. Professor Fr. Jan Czuba said that although the Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare didn’t fully understand what the internet was at that point in time (by time referring to the year 2005), he appreciated that the manner in which students learn, the manner in which lecturers and teachers teach is changing and that the teacher and/or lecturer will no longer need to stand in front of the classroom but rather the teacher and lecturer’s role is to facilitate the learning.
Professor Fr. Jan continued to say that the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare accepted his proposal to introduce internet to higher education institutions to assist with research and learning online. Professor Fr. Jan Czuba, at that time was the President of Divine Word University and the Chairman of the Vice Chancellors Committee (VCC). “The VCC in 2005 had established the Papua New Guinea Academic Research Network and needed the then monopoly Telikom PNG to grant them the licence to operate using internet in tertiary education institutions. The late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare attended the official launching of the Papua New Guinea Academic Research Network and by doing so, his actions encouraged Telikom PNG to support our cause by granting us the licence to operate and gradually we gained internet access for all higher education institutions throughout the country,” explained Professor Fr. Jan Czuba.
This is just one example of how our founding father contributed to improving the standard of education in our country.
File picture of Professor Fr. Jan Czuba
Young women who will be shaping the learning culture of Western Pacific University
Meet Melanie Jugan
Melanie Jugan is currently studying for her Masters in Computer Networks at the University of Information Technology and Management in Rzeszów, Poland. Upon completing this two-year program, Ms. Jugan will have gained professional knowledge and skills in creating, designing, implementing and securing computer systems and networks.
“Working for Western Pacific University came as an opportunity when hope was almost gone. My mum never gave up on me and continuously prayed for me and for my future. She was very proud of me when I got accepted to work with the Western Pacific University. I now look forward to returning in 2021 and meet my colleagues, students and start the next chapter of my life. Working at Western Pacific University will allow me to utilise my knowledge and skills and achieve professional growth as well as contribute to the successful development of the University,” Ms. Jugan stated in an interview when asked about why she had chosen to work for Western Pacific University.
Ms. Jugan graduated in 2019 from Divine Word University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems. Prior to that she attended Sogeri National High and Angoram High School before that. “In my childhood years, I actually never thought that I’ll be able to fully complete my education and get a job because receiving support from my family was not an option at that time. I was interested in computers when I was in high school and this lead me to further my studies in the IT field.”
“The achievement of my life lies not in the awards. It’s the values learned and gained from bad and good situations in the process of growing up. I hope to be an inspiration to the women and girls from my village and in remote parts of PNG. It doesn’t matter what kind of background we may come from and it may be true that the type of environment we associate with may have an impact on our lives. But I believe that we all have the power to change the perspectives about the way we see things in life and it starts within ourselves as individuals. To achieve something we need discipline, consistency and time,” Ms. Jugan said.
Meet Priscilla Uramina
“Growing up, I always loved working with my dad, fixing things around the house. From a broken scan radio to changing the water coolant from the car; my dad loved fixing and repairing things. This caught my attention to want to learn how to fix things too. Since my dad had a science background, I decided from an early age to be in the science and technology industry. While I was in high school, I realised that I wanted to be a teacher in the science and technology area so that I can teach the next generation what knowledge I have. I believe that education is the key to people making well-informed and better decisions for a better future. This was why I did not think twice to choose to work with WPU.”
In her mid-twenties and hailing from a mixed-parentage of Milne Bay and Simbu Province, Priscilla Uramina will be one of the tutors at Western Pacific University in 2021. Ms. Uramina is currently studying for her Master’s Degree in Information Technology, in the specialty of Software Engineering at the University of Technology and Management (UITM) in Rzeszow, Poland. She graduated from Divine Word University in 2019 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems.
“My parents have taught me that they can only show me the right way and I have to think and make choices myself. They have always supported me with my decisions. After my studies I look forward to working with new colleagues and in a new environment and learn as much as I can as well as contribute quality input to the university and the country as a whole.” Ms. Uramina said in an interview.
Meet Carol Winuan
“My main defining moment throughout my primary and secondary education was when I came to realise that education is the key to having a successful future. I believe that education helps people to think critically, develops positive personalities, and gives people the chance to have good careers. Education empowers people to help themselves, their communities, provinces and nation. The more educated we are, the better the services we can provide.”
Currently undertaking studies for her Masters in International Management at the University of Information Technology and Management in Poland, Ms. Winuan is looking forward to working at Western Pacific University upon the completion of her two year course. “My main reason for choosing to work with Western Pacific University is so that I can give back to my country by helping young Papua New Guineans through education. I am a believer of how education can positively change societies, and I feel that I need to take this on as a platform to help, whether it be imparting knowledge to students through teaching or in any other way, as long as I play my part to contribute to the development of our country.”
Coming from a mixed parentage of Jiwaka and East Sepik Province, Ms. Winuan spent much of her childhood in Jiwaka Province and West New Britain Province, where she attended primary and secondary schools in the respective provinces. She graduated from Divine Word University in 2019 with her Bachelor of Arts in Papua New Guinea Studies and International Relations. Ms. Winuan says that her family has always supported her decisions when it comes to education and her career path and that they always pray for her and that they are proud of her achievements so far.
“As a woman I know that education will provide anything that I want. I know the importance of being educated and I want every young girl, boy and adult to know that you can become anything in life if you take learning seriously. Education will take you places, give you your dream job(s), and put you in a position to be a world changer,” said Ms. Winuan.
Young men who will be shaping the learning culture of Western Pacific University
Meet Wingki Mainapo
Pictured left: Wingki Mainapo is one of the young men who will be contributing to moulding the learning culture at Western Pacific University. “I decided to work for Western Pacific University because WPU is going to be the first digital university in Papua New Guinea. It excites me a lot that I will be serving this beautiful country in a higher educational institution in building the future generation to be digital citizens.”
“I decided to work for Western Pacific University because it is going to be the first digital university in Papua New Guinea. I am excited about being part of it because it offers a great opportunity to rub shoulders with other professionals with a wealth of experience and because I will be serving this beautiful country in a higher educational institution and helping to build future generations. Education is for everyone and the students who come to WPU will be trained and taught to be digital citizens and competent with the current digital world.”
This is the response from Wingki Mainapo when asked about why he chose to work with Western Pacific University. Mr. Mainapo is managing the Online Learning Management System for staff and students at WPU and will also be tutoring Foundation Math for Foundation year students in 2021.
When asked about how he become interested in computers, he replied, “One memorable moment throughout my childhood that influenced my career was when my mother bought me a secondhand laptop for me to do my school work. I was interested to know more about computing. I got familiar with using computer software such as kids Encarta, computer games, Microsoft applications, video and audio players, paint and so on. My initial dream of becoming a doctor faded as I become passionate about computers.”
Growing up, Mr. Mainapo’s role model was Dr.Ben Carson. “Dr. Ben Carson is someone very remarkable in my eyes. I would read all his books and love all the best Godly quotes. Of all of his achievements, his remarkable standing in his profession and faith in God, I admire his determination, dedication and hard work. Reading and learning from his books has made a tremendous impact on my education and career choices.”
Mr. Mainapo grew up in Lae, Morobe Province. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Divine Word University in 2018, and two years after that he graduated with his postgraduate certificate in Higher Education Teaching and Learning.
On the 19th of September, the Independence Day was officially celebrated with a small kaikai of traditional meals, prepared by the Cohort and fellow PNG students from Warsaw who were invited as well. The day was also shared with friends from University of Information Technology as part of their engagement with the community and showcase of PNG culture. As they say, home can be far but it is always close in our hearts. We love our homeland, PNG.