The reputation of higher education rests on the integrity and honesty of individual academics.
DENNIS ORERE reports.
The great Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most pow¬erful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
This statement has come true for many people who have dedicated their lives to educating others, thus transforming them to become re¬sponsible and productive citizens of their countries.
Founder and Chairman of the Institute of Business Studies (IBS) in PNG, Mick Nades, is one such person, who has committed his life to providing business education to Papua New Guineans, since the institute’s inception in 1989, primar¬ily providing revision classes for the then PNG Institute of Accountants (now CPA PNG).
At the inception of IBS, there were only nine qualified Papua New Guinean accountants, although more than 300 graduated with Commerce/ Accounting degrees from the two government-owned universities - the PNG University of Technology and the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG).
By 1996, there were more than 150 fully-qualified PNG accountants and IBS is proud to be a significant contributor to this number.
Since that time till June last year (2011), CPA PNG took over the role of providing the revision classes.
The relationship between IBS and CPA PNG was revived last year, enabling IBS lecturers to provide revision classes for CPA PNG as of July 2011.
IBS has now grown to educating students in business fields other than accounting, such as information technology, marketing and human resource management.
Last month, IBS hosted an Inter¬national Seminar on Academic Qual¬ity and Educational Responsibility (InSAQER) at its Mt Eriama campus.
The seminar was attended by 40 participants who were teaching and non-teaching staff, administrators of educational institutions and stu¬dent representatives from PNG and overseas.
Chief guest was Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Minister David Arore.
Arore stressed on relating academ¬ic quality and educational responsi¬bility to the PNG Vision 2050, and the importance of public-private partnership in educating and train¬ing Papua New Guineans in various fields.
“The most important rationale for our public-private partnership is to address unmet demand for educated and skilled human resource.
“The PNG government, relevant agencies and development partners must embrace alternative models for educating our citizens. One of my ministerial objectives is to work closely with privately-established higher educational institutions to address quality assurance issues set by the Government through the com¬mission for higher education and to assist private institutes in infrastruc¬ture programmes from time to time,” said Arore.
Minister Arore pointed out that projected grade 12 graduates will increase from 14,500 in 2010 to 46,000 in 2020 and 58,000 by 2030 (NDoE 2011).
“As a result, more than 50 percent of grade 12 graduates will forego places in higher education institu¬tions annually. The transitions of grades 8 and 10 students to grades 9 and 11 classes, results in substantial number of students being forced out of the school system due to incapacity of conventional schools to accommodate school population growth. Similarly, some 50 percent of the grade 12 graduates will miss out on places in conventional higher education institutions due to limited access and resources,” added Arore.
Director General for the Office of Higher Education Professor David Kavanamur in his speech spoke on the integrity of higher education.
“When we look around the world, we see that higher education - and its academics and institutions - gener¬ally are held in high regard. Higher education institutions are widely respected. For the most part, they are trusted to produce capable graduates and sound research.
“One of the vital facts about higher education, but one that is sometimes overlooked, is that its reputation rests very largely on the integrity and honesty of individual academics. By integrity, I mean behaviours such as:
* Only admitting students who are reasonably likely to succeed in their higher education studies - not setting up students for failure
* Teaching to the best of one’s ability, diligently and with infectious enthusiasm.
* Assessing students fairly and consistently
* Certifying students as competent to graduate, because they have met specified standards
* Conducting well-designed re¬search projects and honestly report¬ing the results
* Refusing to allow any of these processes to be corrupted by self-interest, bribery, cheating or lying.
“It is these conventions of in¬tegrity, which form the culture of academia, that we all rely on. Cheating in any form is taboo,” said Kavanamur.
Professor Geoff Barton from Sydney University in Australia, Pacific Freedom Forum Executive Belinda Kora; and Vice Chancellor for Pacific Adventist University Ben Thomas were among others who delivered presentations.
Other topics presented and discussed included: Importance of Education in PNG; Education for Economic Development in PNG; and Academic Quality and Educa¬tional Responsibility - A Student’s Perspective.
The objectives of the InSAQER were: to reiterate the importance of academic quality among institutions in PNG; to create awareness about the educational responsibility across students, teachers and institutions; and to emphasise the contribution of education and the role played by institutions and teachers towards employability of students.
As far as education is concerned, it is fair to go with what Mahatma Gandhi said: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
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