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.
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.
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.
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.