PNG UNIVERSITY BLAMES UNDERFUNDING FOR PROBLEMS

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Vice Chancellor says pleas fall on deaf ears

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 31, 2008) - The failure by the Government to provide [adequate] funding for the Papua New Guinea University of Technology brought about the present state of affairs on the Taraka campus in Lae, Morobe Province, according to Vice chancellor Misty Baloiloi

Baloiloi said the infrastructure, equipment and materials, rising debts and academic activities suffered due to the under funding in the past five years.

"In here, they call me the VC but when I go down to Waigani, I am a little boy and a beggar," he said. "I get down on my knees and beg and beg but no one would listen to me," Baloiloi told a press conference.

He said the university had "made submission after submission" to the Government as well as seeking donor funding to deal with some of the problems but all these efforts were not supported by the Government.

He said the university had set a total budget of PGK48 million [US$17.8 million] per year but it was given only PGK29 million [US$10.7 million].

Baloiloi was trying to explain why infrastructure like the classrooms, dormitories, staff houses, equipment and laboratories were breaking down and were falling to pieces. The shortage of funding also meant additional facilities were not built although the education reform was being implemented at the lower levels of the education system.

He said the student population had grown over the last five years due to the increase in numbers of secondary schools but Unitech was built to take in students from only four national high schools.

He said there were some 2,600 students at present and the huge population was putting a lot of pressure on the facilities available at the campus.

He said, however, debts had been reduced substantially from PGK7 million in 2001 to a manageable amount of less than PGK3 million at the end of last year.

"This has meant a lot of belt-tightening, thus the issues with cash flow.

"There is much activity on campus -- staff houses and lecture buildings are being maintained," he said.

"The Unitech Nursing College has resumed its academic year, thanks to Unitech’s intervention in what is supposed to be the Health Department’s responsibility to maintain the facilities at the college. ""We are also working on staging our 40th graduation ceremony on April 18. The other affiliates of Unitech, the Timber and Forestry Training College and Bulolo University College, are also operating normally," Baloiloi said.

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