28 Jul 2005

PNG appoints acting minister to handle student row

4:40 pm on 28 July 2005

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare, has appointed an Acting Minister for Higher Education to make decisions in the increasingly ugly campus row in Port Moresby.

The University of Papua New Guinea has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and a mobile police squad is camped on campus following more clashes between students and police this week.

Students are protesting over a grading system they believe is unfair.

Police in Port Moresby say they've used teargas and are poised to evict some 200 students who have failed in the grading from their university dormitories.

The Minister for Higher Education, Brian Pulyasi, called for an independent review of the grading system, but sources say he has not been heard from since leaving for his Trobriand Island electorate up to a week ago.

"The Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, has told the Acting Transport and Civil Aviation Minister, Don Polye (Poll-aye) to take over in the meantime."

No comment has been forthcoming from university leaders, but the Post Courier newspaper reports that the academic senate has extended this semester by three weeks to make up for lost time.