Australia opens PNG info centre for scholarships and awards
The Australian Government has opened a Australia Awards Information Centre in Port Moresby this month to make it easier for locals to find out more about awards and scholarships on offer.
The Australian government has opened a Australia Awards Information Centre in Port Moresby this month to make it easier for locals to find out more about awards and scholarships on offer.
The Head of Australia's Aid programme in PNG, Stuart Schaefer, along with PNG's Minister for Higher Education, David Arore, opened the centre last week.
Mr Schaefer says since 2003, 1,800 Papua New Guineans have received awards and he told Sara Vui-Talitu he hopes this number will increase. Sara Vui-Talitu spoke to him.
STUART SCHAEFER: What the information centre does, it actually is a place where these applicants can find out about these scholarships and fellowships, they can keep in touch with other alumni. They can also get advice about preparing themselves for positions after they come back - in the public or the private sector or further study. And, look, just to give you a sense of the sorts of numbers that we're talking about, since 2003 1,800 Papua New Guineans have received Australia Awards for studying in Australia. And this year more than 300 Papua New Guineans are studying in Australia. But it's not just about Australia, it's also about in-country awards. 450 Papua New Guineans started study in Papua New Guinea this year, so we've got nursing students - 150 of those - midwifery students, community health workers and education students right here in Papua New Guinea.
SARA VUI-TALITU: So you've got some priority areas for these awards. Tell us a little bit about those areas.
SS: Yeah, exactly. You can offer scholarships in many areas, but the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments - this is very much a joint approach - have focused on four key priority areas more broadly within the aid programme - and that's health, education, law & justice and transport infrastructure. And if you think about what those sectors are about, we then follow with scholarships and Australia Awards in those areas, so health and education, but also in governance and public sector management, which allows people to actually follow through on some of those other priorities. Also, law and justice and things like information and communications technology.
SVT: I guess with the technology and everything, people could argue, 'Why isn't the process online?' But obviously you, Australia, feel there is a need for the centre.
SS: Indeed. And a lot of the things are done online these days, but what this centre does actually provide a place in which people can do some of that online work. They can actually look online at some of the universities or institutions in which they want to study. It also provides them a space where they can sit down and work quietly to actually progress some of their applications or progress some of their ideas for their career after they come back.
SVT: And was it costly to set up the centre?
SS: Look, it's not a stand-alone building, per se. We've rented some space within a building. And I suppose what we have concentrated on so far is really the front end of that - where the students can come and go, where they can actually get at that information, where they can apply. Of course with an awards programme of this size we also need a significant back-end operation, if you like, so there's the processing of the people, there's people that need to be there to assist the students while they're in Australia or in Papua New Guinea during their actual study, but also to assist them with their re-entry when they come back into Papua New Guinea.
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