AusAID Scholarship Award to Papua New Guineans is not helping PNG to be a leader in science and technology.

By Peter Di Niko – 28 Oct 2020.

We applaud the AusAID Scholarship Award to Papua New Guineans for postgraduate studies, but if Australia is serious about assisting PNG in its long term development needs then the scholarship awards should be extended to include Core Sciences and Engineering Programs (E,g. BioTech, Surgery & Medicine, Bio-engineering, Software engineering or all other engineering fields, etc).

All most all the core sciences and engineering study programs are not included in AusAID Scholarship Award. Those who are seen to be selected in any of the sciences and engineering programs ended up studying courses mostly related to management under the Course Work category.

In fact, there are pre-defined courses for Pacific Island students who study under the AusAID Scholarship Awards. So you will end up studying introductory courses but not the core science/engineering courses that will help you design and develop things. And, of course, many of the courses are management courses that are related to the field studied by an awardee.

PNG is a developing country and it urgently needs engineers and scientists to design, develop, and build its infrastructure and grow its economy. PNG needs engineers and scientists to change its economy from the conventional economy (economy driven by natural resources) to a developed economy (an economy that will be driven by industries and technologies).

Obviously, this scholarship is not helping PNG to be a leader in science and technology but to become a great follower, consumer, user, etc.

The Prime Minister and the concerned Minister need to look into this immediately as a matter of serious national development concern.

Top Comment(s) by,

Luwis Gabriel (Port Moresby General Hospital Medical Physicist), LinkedIn.

PNG Still lacks in STEM and should be a top development agenda. They should highlight more on STEM needs with the Australian GOVERNMENT.

I was applying for MSc in Medical Physics for 2x and was not given a chance even though my BSc GPA meets their requirements. I was also questioned by one of the agents for AAS during the seminar at Lae International Hotel about the course of my choice. she cannot define the course and was unable to answer most of my questions.

I explained to her that this is one of the specialized fields PNG has been lacking since the establishment of a Radiotherapy Centre and Nuclear Technology in the country. She flipped through my application documents and said OK and I was wondering how could this be.

We need more PhDs and MSc professionals in STEM for research development in our Country. While we appreciate the Australian Government to look into other development needs like Business courses, Accounting, they also need to look consider STEM programs from their scholarships.

Thanks fully, my dream come through when the University of Colombo gives me the opportunity to do my MSc in Medical Physics. I support my brother, this is something the Australian Government should consider to develop STEM in PNG

Solomon Sar (Self Employed at Spatial Solutions (PNG), LinkedIn

The author, Peter Di Niko, is blaming the wrong side of the coin and from what I gather does not understand the bilateral agreement between Australia and Papua New Guinea. Key sectors have been highlighted by PNG and these sectors are where Australia is funding awardees to undertake studies in Australia and PNG.

The author also claims that most of these courses are managerial and this is not always the case. Tertiary institutes in Australia have programs that are suited to the selected preference of the awardee. Each program has compulsory courses that need to be undertaken to complete the selected program and in addition, there are optional courses called electives that can cover a wider range of skills if the awardee chooses.

The underlying idea of the scholarship is that scholars develop the mindset to be a critical thinker. These mindsets enable awardees to better understand the dynamic situation of their field and address issues that bring about impact. This is also the goal for institutions back in PNG. Australian Awards Scholarship has shaped many brilliant Papua New Guineans that are reshaping PNG.

Joshua Sam (Hazardous Waste Management Adviser at Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme), LinkedIn

More an opinion piece than a well-researched article. There are no pre-defined courses for Pacific Islanders. What you should say is the courses are dictated by the country’s priority development areas. Studying STEM programs in a developed country under a scholarship scheme is one thing. Returning to a country that offers very little opportunities for one to apply that knowledge is another.

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3 thoughts on “AusAID Scholarship Award to Papua New Guineans is not Helping PNG to be a Leader in Science and Technology”

  1. Well then, if it is not working as you would like, then we simply scrap the idea altogether, and keep this taxpayer money for internal use in Australia. Great idea….thanks for the heads up on this.

    1. The Land Down Under will NEVER Promote Development Advancement for PNG.
      Lets face it- Colonial Austrlian Gov’t actually looted PNG Gold from Wau/Bulolo for how long 50years and built Canberra using PNG’s Gold.
      What they offer was cheap jobs such as Teachers/Nurses and politicians.
      Anyway appreciate what they offer for now cos its PNG Govt is at fault here and citizens are only the victims of Corrupting that long established during Pre-Independence Era.

      A sad History really for PNG!

  2. I think it depends entirely on the PNG Government. If they invest in facilities for research and development for science and engineering then we will have research scientists and engineers who will fully utilize their skill sets. So I believe course work by ausaid is offered according to jobs available in the country. If we want our citizens to go into core science then the PNG government should invest in that.