2013 Papuan Education Leaders Symposium

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2013 Papuan Education Leaders Symposium

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Governor’s Office, Sasana Krida, Jalan DR. Sam Ratulangi Dok 2 Jayapura, Papua

11 November 2013

Welcome all on behalf of the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). We are indeed fortunate to have such a large and distinguished group of people assembled for this symposium.

As I related at a reception on Saturday evening, where Bapak Tea Hery officiated on behalf of the Papuan Provincial Government (PPG), this is my first visit to Jayapura.

I am very impressed with the sense of vibrancy, the extensive economic activity and the huge numbers of young people. They are your future and I’ll return to them in a minute.

While I’m not very familiar with Papua, I am very familiar with Indonesia and particularly the NTT (Nusa Nenggara Timur) - Sumba, Flores and Timor. The NTT and the Top End of Australia share similar climates and similar problems with wildfires.

I worked with Indonesian colleagues and ACIAR (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research) for more than 10 years using satellite pictures to develop ways of managing wildfires in both the NTT and Australia.

It was a powerful partnership that has helped both countries.

And that leads to another of my passions – education. Education changes lives, the lives of families, the lives of communities, provinces and nations. It is driving the rise of new economies around the world, including in Indonesia and Australia.

And as Papua strives to enhance the education of its young people, so does the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.

In Australia, distance from capital cities has a marked impact on educational opportunity and achievement – just as it does here in Indonesia.

The proportion of people with a university degree in our region has trebled since USC opened in 1996.

I’m sure UNCEN (Cenderawasih University) would be achieving similar impacts in Papua and part of our mission here is to build closer ties between USC and UNCEN.

University degrees are at the very top end of the educational food chain – but it all starts in schools – literacy, numeracy, entry to the training and trades sectors - all rely on schools and teachers.

Without sound schooling you can’t reap the benefits of education – better jobs, or a better standard of living than your parents and you can’t make a contribution to the new economies emerging in Papua and elsewhere.

That’s why this symposium and the collaboration between Australia and Papua are so important. USC is very committed to this collaboration. And as a number of my colleagues mentioned on Saturday evening, it’s really important for Sunshine Coast school communities too.

Whenever I visit one of our local schools, or meet with a school Principal, I’m often asked when they’ll be having Papuan teachers in their schools again – they really look forward to it. It’s all about internationalisation and the fact that Indonesia is our nearest neighbour.

So the work USC’s IPG (International Projects Group) does with Papuan teachers has flow-on benefits to Australian schools and teachers as well.

Something you may not be aware of is that the IPG won a national award for this program developed around enhancing the capabilities of Papuan teachers – an Australian Government Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

It is a great achievement that has seen Papua and its teachers in the spotlight in Australia.

The IPG team plan to share the Rupiah$100million (AU$10,000) prize with the Papuan schools involved in the program.

I wish our USC alumni all the best and sincerely hope that you all have the opportunity to continue your own professional learning and your careers.

I found out on Saturday evening that one of the alumni, Jil Lahallo the first of the Papuan teachers to complete a MEd (TESOL) at USC, has just been selected as a 2014 Fulbright Scholar to study in the USA at Kent University, Ohio.

USC is very proud of her. I’ve been thinking about how to describe a Fulbright Scholarship to you – they are a pinnacle of academic prestige in the university world – getting one is akin to winning a medal at the Olympics.

So congratulations to Jil and the family and learning community in Papua who have contributed to her success. I trust this achievement inspires us all to better things.

To conclude I would like to acknowledge DFAT (Australian, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) who are very much aware of the importance of the ongoing relationships that are consolidating in Papua between USC and the Provincial Government. I thank them for their continued support.

And finally, we are most grateful for the engagement of the Papuan Provincial Government, which is demonstrated here today through the attendance of the Governor, HE Lukas Enembe. In particular, we are indebted to the Dinas Pendidikan (Papuan, Education Department) who have liaised closely on the programs to date and on developing the ones we hope to see delivered in the future.

To all attendees – enjoy the symposium.

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