There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. - Proverbs 23:18
Happy New Year 2021! We put the old year behind us and look to the new year, a fresh start offering new opportunities and expectations. On New Year's Day, January 1, the Ministry and the Department for Sport and Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (HERST) will pray to God for the world and our country. With our unconditional faith, we will see the love of God in the sorrowful, the ordinary and the joyful.
At the end of 2020, a challenging year for both our nation and the world, the faith in God offers a wonderful guide for our year ahead. Let us immerse ourselves in God’s love, hope and respond to His presence and grace by bringing that love and hope to others as surely as a future hope for us. Let us share how God is working in our lives with those around us and resolve to let God shape our hearts to be more generous and loving. With eyes of faith and hope, we will know God’s presence in our daily lives and the peace it brings us.
With the recent passage of the Higher Education Reform Bills Package (2020) the coming year marks the formal implementation of significant reforms in the governance, management and quality of higher and technical education in Papua New Guinea. Some highlights from the upcoming Ministerial and Departmental 2021 Agenda are flagged below.
2021 National Online Academic Selection (NOAS): For the third year in succession the DHERST online portal is facilitating 27,422 Grade 12 students applying for 226 tertiary academic programs across all Higher Educations Institutions. Graduating Year 12 students will need to follow your NOAS instructions over the coming weeks.
2021 HELP Application and Selections: In the second year of rollout, the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) will be made available to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Interested applicants: watch for media alerts late January.
2021 Consolidating early progress in our Teacher Education colleges. The continuing roll-out of the Diploma in Teaching and the 4 Year Bachelor of Education Degree will bring more coherence between levels of education and the skills taught at primary, secondary, and higher educational levels; and better alignment to our national education objectives.
2021 Increasing the number of Nursing and Allied Health Professionals: Papua New Guinea is experiencing an alarming exodus of trained Nursing and Allied Health Professionals, caused in part by staff retirement and leakage of staff to private sector medical practice; and the declining intake of Nursing and Allied Health trainees over the past decade. In 2021 we will begin to work with our colleagues in the Health Sector to ensure greater participation in Health Education at our Nursing and Allied Health Colleges as they transition with other Higher Education Institutions.
2021 Increasing capability for Research and Innovation: This coming year will see many Higher Education Institutions develop their capability for research and innovation in technology development projects engaging in multi-sector partnerships with industry and civil society.
2021 Inaugural National Skills Development Agency (NSDA) meeting: The NSDA, a multi-stakeholder platform driving a national skills and employment agenda, will have its inaugural meeting on the 28th February 2021 convening high level representatives from Government, Industry, Civil Society, Education and Training. A positive change agenda awaits.
2021 Skills Partnerships and Pathways to Employment: Major capacity development initiatives are scheduled for implementation in collaboration with our donor partners focused on improved TVET delivery across Papua New Guinea’s 10 Public TVET Colleges.
2021 Financing of new TVET and Polytechnic Infrastructure: Implementing recent NEC Decisions on infrastructure policy will include the financing, planning and commissioning of 6 new Polytechnic Institutes in Simbu, Enga, Hela, Kokopo, Manus and ARoB; and 12 new TVET Colleges in Provinces currently without an operating Technical College.
2021 Transition of NTC Registration & Accreditation Functions: Registration and accreditation of all private TVET Colleges, previously a National Training Council function, will transfer to DHERST. This transition provides a common link to unified national quality standards for registration and accreditation.
2021 Gender Equity & Social Inclusion (GESI) in Higher Education: On and off campus strategies for increasing levels of female participation will include the development and roll-out of a Higher Education GESI policy and tool-kit. Increased access for people living in remote areas or living with a disability will be enhanced via digital education delivery.
2021 Institutional Planning & Budgeting: Each institution of higher learning will develop a clear vision, a purpose and a strategic action plan, enabling and supporting capable leadership in the higher education sector, good governance, workable policies, reliable and affordable funding, effective planning; and clear accountability and transparency.
2021 The addition of Sport to the Ministerial Portfolio: The strategic combination of Sport and Education is a powerful catalyst for a young nation lifting the quality of its performance on the world stage across all facets of our social and economic life. I am grateful to the Prime for the inclusion of Sport in the new Ministry.
2021 The Western Pacific University – A DHERST Impact Project: : PNG’s fully digitalized University opens its virtual doors and physical campus to Foundation students in February 2021, preparing PNG Digital Citizen Graduates capable of matching skills and learning, comparable to University graduates anywhere in the world. WPU has been a remarkable construction achievement (on time and on budget?) and its opening is landmark contribution to higher learning in the high demand catchment area of the Highlands Region.
In keeping with my Ministerial accountability, I look forward to reporting to you on these and other performance issues in my first Ministerial Performance Report to the Parliament in June 2021.
In the meantime, may our New Year be a time of commitment, courage, and renewal. Be assured of my support and prayers that 2021 will be a year full of blessing and joy for us and our loved ones. As there is surely a future for us in the Higher Education Sector, let our hope not be cut off because of the challenges surrounding us.
The 2021 Agenda above is indeed a powerful promise of hope. As stated in the opening Proverb, my Ministry and my Department will do our very best to see that
There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:18
God bless Papua New Guinea!
Hon Wesley Raminai, MP Minister for Sport & Higher Education, Research, Science & Technology