A Divine Word University student who prefers that his name is withheld, in order to avoid any possibility of being reprimanded by the school administration, wishes to air an appeal to the general public - 'most particularly our prominent Papua New Guineans, Govt, leaders, business houses and Corporate Clients' to financially assist certain final year students at Divine Word University (DWU) in Madang.
The student said "It has come to my knowledge that the administration of the DWU is withdrawing students from the university because they have not paid their outstanding school fees. And for final year students to come this far only to be told to withdraw given that he/she has not complete his/her dues is quite saddening. It is heartbreaking to see our final year students with tears walking out of the office with a notice of withdrawal."
"We have only a month left before our final semester ends and see this happens is very, very sad. Most of these students are poor in a sense that their parents hardly can afford to complete the K8,000.00 plus school fee for the year. It is so exhausting in some sense because where else will they get their money from to complete their children’s fees. The only way out is to inform their children to withdraw from studies. But how can you do it when your child has come this far? It is in fact, so painful indeed. I for one have decided to withdraw my savings just to chip for a few unfortunate kids but I just cannot do it for all given that I have exhausted my savings."
"I therefore, would like to appeal to the government, business house, Corporate Entities and individuals Papua New Guineans who think they can assist in some way to please come forward and assist our final year students who owes DWU school fees."
Perhaps the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, who reportedly 'announced that the Government will work with state-owned universities to improve academic and capacity issues that have led to declining standards' can personally assist financially disadvantaged final year students at DWU.
The Prime Minister reportedly in response to 'the findings of an external audit of the University of Papua New Guinea that identified deficiencies' said: "The findings of the external audit are a wake-up call for educational institutions."
"We are concerned that a similar situation exists in other state-owned universities in the country and further investigations will be undertaken. Our university students are our future engineers, doctors, teachers and leaders. We must intervene otherwise the nation will face serious consequences in the future."
"The government will act to raise standards now and enhance the ability of the university to produce quality graduates for the country and its growing economy."
Higher Education Minister Malakai Tabar has been directed by the Prime Minister particularly to:
1) 'Design a capacity building program for all national academic staff'
2) 'Design an international academia program'
3) 'Review the dual salary policy' for acadamic staff
Perhaps the Higher Education Ministry can also design a comprehensive welfare and insurance policy and program to cater for university students who face financial hardship, suffer from illness or injury or who may tragically pass away whilst on campus.
Recently, in July this year, a disturbing report was received about a very poor male student from a remote rural part of PNG (named) who is believed to have died in his room at DWU from illnesses (named) compounded by 'hunger' and lack of appropriate medical treatment. Sadly the second year student was said to have died from 'starvation, depression and lack of support with school fees which contributed to the illnesses'.
"His mass privileges were taken away from him by Divine Word two weeks before his death as he had outstanding school fees for he comes from a very very poor family. It is a sad case for he was the first child from his village to enter university and his dream and aspiration was to be the first to take services back to his home. He died in his room and Divine Word completely ignored him. There was no funeral mass, representatives or any form of farewell by his divine word community," a confidential source revealed at the time.
The coffin draped with the provincial flag, carrying the body of the deceased student, was sent unaccompanied to the provincial capital by DWU. However at the time there was no money available to airlift the coffin to the nearest rural station, at a cost of K8,000, where the coffin would then have to be carried over a long distance (for three days) to his village for burial. The student is believed to have passed away in June and his body is understood' to have been kept in the morgue in the provincial capital for 'one month' prior to the tragic report being received in July.
We do not know if the late student ended up being buried in his village or in the provincial capital and we certainly hope his body is still not in the morgue. We make mention of this tragedy simply to highlight that many students do indeed come from very remote and poor backgrounds and are suffering financial hardship in their endeavour to graduate. They need support.
Please help by sharing/publicizing this appeal or by contacting the school administration at DWU directly in order to contribute towards settling the outstanding school fees of certain final year students facing financial hardship. Thank you and God Bless you.