Visiting the idyllic University of Goroka

I first came to know of this place when I was introduced to it in the early 1980s. Back then it was known as the Goroka Teachers College and a certain Manusian from Bundrahei village, by the name of Francis Kari and his wife took me from my home in West Goroka to visit their family home at the college. He taught at the college which mainly concentrated on pre-service undergraduate diploma programs for secondary teachers, although it also trained teachers in Agriculture, Health, Secretarial Studies, and Technical Education.

Just after the entrance to the university, this is the first street.
Some classrooms.
The Postgraduate office on the left. Just look at those impressive pine trees!

Goroka Teachers, which began training teachers in 1961, has today become the premier teacher training institution in the country. Just after PNG’s independence in 1975, the college become part of the University of Papua New Guinea. However, in 1992, as a result of the National Education Reform and PNG’s Higher Education Plan, the UPNG Council decided to unify teacher education programs in Goroka. In 1995, the Goroka Campus of UPNG enrolled its first Bachelor of Education (BEd) intake. Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), BEd Honours and Master of Education (MEd) degree students were admitted in subsequent years. The Government of Papua New Guinea declared the University of Goroka to be a fully-fledged University in 1997 by an Act of Parliament (UOG Act, 1997).

So today, since my first visit back in the 1980s, I decided to take a tour of the campus and see the physical space. While some of the infrastructure such as classrooms and teachers houses still maintained their shape, from my memory, many new additional buildings have added a touch of class to its physical setting. Coupled with Eastern Highlands’ cool temperate air and its location overlooking the township of Goroka, the university environment is idyllic. The lawns are freshly cut and green, the buildings free from graffiti and clean. I wished I had come to visit the university when it was full into its academic year. At this time, many students had not yet arrived as registration would begin the following week.

I’m standing in front of the Dr. Mark Solon auditorium
Overlooking the UOG campus eastwards towards Daulo Pass. Just look at how green the environment is!
I’m told this is the sewerage treatment plant for the university. This is impressive!
The university library
I’m standing in front of the doorway into the library
Classrooms, a hauswin and walkways
A bench at the edge of the look-out
People enjoying the look-out over Goroka town

While UOG has had its share of bad rap over the years for student boycotts and university management issues, for me, the student accommodation located in the heart of the University, outshines them all. It was still closed when I visited but surely this has to be the best student accommodation in all of PNG’s tertiary institutions. I have personally seen student accommodation in four PNG universities including Goroka in the past decade and I can truly say that the one at ‘kol peles’ Goroka is quite modern and impressive. Built at a cost of K108 million, the buildings tower over the university and I am told, has amazing views of Goroka. Together with a new library complex completed at a cost of K12 million, a new auditorium cost K8.5 million in 2002 and educational equipment bought for K11.5 million in 2005, UOG is building nicely.

Student accommodation from the outside
Student accommodation on the right, a street and then on the left is staff housing

If you ever choose to become a student at the University of Goroka, you will experience a rich environment in a unique part of PNG. I fell in love with Goroka a long time ago and I hope you can too. You can always visit the University website to know more about courses and how to enroll.

Cheers!

Amazing hot coffee at Yonki Dam

Usually when I travel on Public Motor Vehicles (PMVs) along the highways between provinces, I get to have drinks like kulau, soft drinks, water and even coffee at stops. For coffee, most often, it is served in a household ceramic cup and you drink from it. Once finished, the cup is returned to the owner before you leave and continue on your journey.

However, this time, as I travelled from Lae in Morobe Province to Goroka Eastern Highlands Province by PMV, I found an unexpected coffee encounter. We took off at around 5pm from Lae and by 7pm we were already past the Markham Valley and heading up the Kassam Pass – the gateway to the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea. We drove past the famous Yang Creek and once we reached Yonki Dam, we were knew we were already in Eastern Highlands Province territory as the air temperature began to drop. I had already began regretting my choice of wearing just a single shirt.

Yonki Dam, constructed in 1991, is located in the Arona Valley adjacent to the township of Yonki and generates around 18 megawatts of electricity to Morobe, Madang and Eastern Highlands provinces respectively. As the PMV zigzagged its way up the highway, we came to a stop just past the dam. It is a small roadside market with vendors selling items such as food, drinks, fruits, betelnuts, cigarettes, etc. Amongst all the usual items sold, I was pleasantly surprised to see a roadside vendor selling hot coffee in disposable paper cups with lids.

The smaller cups cost K2.00 while the larger ones cost K3.00

I paid K2.00 and the male vendor, who had a urn already filled with hot water, filled my cup, stirred the liquid and put the lid on . It wasn’t premium highlands coffee but the cheaper 3-in-1 ones that comes in sachets. It didn’t matter to me. The hot sweet coffee went easily down my throat and warmed by already cold hands.

I admire how Papua New Guineans like this vendor continue to hustle and bring innovation in his business providing convenience to travelling public on the highlands highway.
We stop on the roadside to get our stock of betelnuts, coffee and biscuits
So many Papua New Guineans travel on the highlands highway

It’s not something you see often on roadside markets along highways in PNG but I guess it’s all about stepping up and making the hustle cost effective and customer oriented. I never got to ask him about the cups as we only stopped for a few minutes before we took off again. I drank from a paper cup with a lid and as the bus took off, I held the cup and took sips from it until we reach Kainantu township.

If you ever travel along the highlands highway and stop at the Yonki Dam market, please purchase a K2.00 cup coffee and make the informal sector keep money in the pockets pf ordinary folks in Yonki!

Diminishing formal sector or rising informal sector? The job market in PNG

There seems to be only a few jobs available for so many young people over 18 years of age in Papua New Guinea who are vying for jobs in the formal sector.

The newspapers today quoted respected economists and Executive Director of the Institute of National Affairs Mr. Paul Baker who said that there are about 3-4 million people over age of 18 who are trying to look for jobs in the formal sector that has only 400,000 to 500,000 jobs available. This is a dire situation for those in the formal sector

The National newspaper front page news story – 27th January 2022

But on the other hand, there is very little data available concerning the role of the informal sector and its contribution to the PNG economy. Informal sector supports the livelihoods of 80% of the PNG population. Two areas that are thriving in the country are: a) urban informal sector and b) rural semi subsistence sector.

In the context of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Kavan (2013) the urban informal sector is described as livelihood activities which include microenterprises or tiny livelihood activities selling, distributing, producing or manufacturing goods and providing services, either regularly or occasionally or on a needs-basis and being carried out in prescribed or un-prescribed markets or areas, such as streets, roadsides, in front of supermarkets or offices, at bus stops, and in yards of houses

In the urban informal sector jobs like cooking food and doing door delivery, buai sales, web design, clothing design, after school tutoring students, managing online social media pages, etc are growing. In the rural semi subsistence sector people who are fruit farmers, rubber farmers, local jewelry workmanship, transport operators, selling flowers/seeds, basket weavers, etc are increasing.

Image obtained from https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/157956/1/251_Conroy_informalecon.pdf

The informal sector is growing and pumping money into people’s pockets too. Create your own job, work hard, try your hand, give it a shot!

Our rubber story goes on The National

Lopoki Inc. published the story on the rubber farmer in Liap village on our blog on the 31st of October, 2021. Here is a link to the story.

We are grateful to The National newspaper for giving us the privilege of have our story appear on their newspaper last week Friday 7th January 2022. Hopefully more people read our story and help him and multiple rubber farmers get Government or multilateral organizations to help. These rubber farmers in Manus need assistance in transporting their rubber to Lorengau. They also need assistance in terms of the supply of rubber cups as well.

The story appeared in the Weekender Magazine of The National newspaper

We shared this on our Facebook page too.

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