PNG students to reconcile with University

12:25 pm on 25 August 2016

Reconciliation with management is a priority for University of Papua New Guinea students preparing for resumption of studies next week.

The UPNG's academic year was cancelled after more than six weeks of disruptions around the boycott of classes by students in protest against the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.

A breakdown in trust between the Student Representative Council and UPNG management culminated when police opened fire on students trying to march to parliament in June.

However, the UPNG recently decided to have classes start up again in September and fit both 2016 and 2017 academic years in by November next year.

UPNG student rally at the Waigani Campus.

UPNG student rally at the Waigani Campus. Photo: UPNG4PNG

A student representative, Gerald Turumanu-Peni, said students will start arriving on campus at the start of next week, and Friday September 2nd is scheduled by the university council as a reconciliation day.

"All of us students at this university, and especially student leaders that are implicated in this situation, all of us are putting our birth on that day," he said.

"Reconciliation in Melanesian custom means that we put aside all our differences whatsoever, the past is the past, it has already come and gone. We work to have a proper dialogue, and move towards something good that is a winning solution for all of us."

Mr Turumanu-Peni, said students are hoping the decision to squeeze academic courses into a reduced time frame won't compromise their studies as there won't be much time to spare.

"The majority of the students are very happy to return to class, yes. But there's just a bit of doubt on the integrity of the academic programmes that we would go and complete in the following months at the university," he said.

"How will those study programmes be on par with international standards that are practised all around the world? We don't want to be seen as half-baked graduates."

Meanwhile, the University of PNG has served a contempt charge against the lawyer for the students representative council, Laken Lepatu Aigilo.

A contempt of court proceeding was initiated by the UPNG's registrar Jennifer Popat who claims the lawyer encouraged students' representatives to continue their protest action despite direction from the Court restraining them.

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