ANGRY PNG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS RAMPAGE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 4) – Students at the University of Goroka (UOG) went on a rampage at the campus yesterday after staff at the university walked off their jobs demanding the removal of Vice-Chancellor Dr David Rawlence.

The University staff, which belongs to the National Academic Staff Association (NASA) and Non- Academic National Staff Association (NANSA), yesterday stopped work demanding the termination of Dr Rawlence before they can resume.

But the stop-work angered students who gathered at the student residential areas and demanded NASA and NANSA members for explanation as to why they should be deprived of their right to an education because they paid a lot in school fees.

A group of angry students went on a rampage yesterday morning. They locked the main gate to the campus, set fire to a round house and overturned rubbish drums spilling rubbish onto the streets.

They were angry that their lecturers were not in class to teach them.

A group of in-service students at the university told The National that they would like normal classes to resume immediately.

"We paid for everything including school fees at K1,358 [US$475] for accommodation, transport, food and our family members sacrificed a lot to get us here.

"We would like the issue to be resolved quickly and classes to resume immediately," a spokesperson for the group said.

Police were at the campus all day to monitor the situation and to ensure no damage was done to facilities and infrastructure.

A prolonged boycott of classes would jeopardize the students’ preparation for teaching practice and examinations.

Dr Rawlence was not seen on campus yesterday, and is believed to be in Port Moresby.

Dr Kapa Kelep Malpo, who spoke on behalf of NASA members, told the students that they were not satisfied with the administration of Dr Rawlence and would like him to go.

Dr Malpo said they have written to Chancellor Sir Ebia Olewale that there were very serious management problems at UOG.

She said they had prepared to meet Higher Education Minister Don Polye last Friday, but he did not travel to Goroka.

NANSA president Veronica Thomas said her members lacked confidence in Dr Rawlance and no longer wanted to serve under his administration.

"NANSA had been fighting this battle for two years and came this far; we are demanding the immediate removal of Dr Rawlence before we resume," she said.

The two staff union bodies assured students that they would return to work as soon as the top management removed Dr Rawlence as vice-chancellor of UOG.

Dr Rawlence was appointed vice-chancellor in 2003. His contract expired in April this year, however, an interim council established by Mr Polye extended his contract for another year.

Student Representative Council (SRC) president Bill Habiri called for a speedy resolution of the issue so that they can return to classes.

July 5, 2006

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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