IN an open letter to the heads of scores of eminent universities in the English-speaking world, students and staff of PNG’s University of Technology (Unitech) have sought their help to exert pressure on the Government to address problems facing the tertiary sector in PNG and readmit Dr Schram to his vice-chancellor’s position.
Admitting that they are “bereft”, the students also pleaded with international university administrators to understand “the loss that would inevitably occur should the institutions of higher education in PNG be allowed to continue to corrode.”
“We are writing to you for any direct action--or advice for action--that you can provide us in our present plight,” the letter says.
“Independent of Unitech's present critical circumstance, PNG universities remain under serious general attack--unfortunately, now more than ever before.
"In 2009, the inflation-adjusted public funding per student made available to the universities was about one-fourteenth of the level in the early years of Independence.
"Such a large decline in real public expenditure per person is, so far as we can gather, unique in the world, except in countries that, unlike PNG, have descended into comprehensive civil disorder."
The letter declares that Unitech students and staff have had enough. “We have had enough of our Government's strong-armed protection of corrupt persons. We have had enough of our Government's ongoing and wanton destruction of the institutions of Higher Education in this country.
“Accordingly, we have begun firm and entirely peaceful protest. As a single voice, fully supported by the nation's academic and non-academic staff and parents throughout the land, each student is boycotting classes.”
The letter ends by saying that “whatever you do for the love of our beautiful country, please do so with cleverness, vigour and swift speed! We look to you to help us in our very dark hour of need.”
Meanwhile, in his blog Life is a Journey of Learning, deposed vice-chancellor Dr Albert Schram slammed the PNG Post-Courier newspaper for changing its previous stance urging the Government that he be enabled to resume position at Unitech.
In a piece entitled ‘Post-Courier: Clueless’, Dr Schram wrote: “If it were not a sad indication of the state of press freedom in PNG, it would be funny to see how the Post-Courier in its editorial on 29 January asks for my return against the wishes of the government, and today (Monday) does the opposite. In its editorial on 17 March it supports the PM and no longer my position as vice-chancellor.”