|Subject: Internal versus Overseas Trainning -an opinion
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Date Posted: 11:12:17 11/03/99 Wed
In response to your question.
Human resource development of PNG is an open, economic and political question. It is a controversial, socio-political question where the paradigms and values of employers, the state and individuals are in tension with PNG's public needs. It involves very complex questions to identify the variables and measures that can provide a basis for discussion and agreement on a cost-effective human resource development strategy.
There is little data available to inform this question, nor to provide the basis of policy formation that takes proper account of the needs for internal and external training. There has been also been no attempt in the analysis of the effect upon the development in appropriate development areas i.e., health, research, industry, education, public service and so on of PNG given the persons (either trained internally or outside) employed to lead in these areas.
PNG higher education is underdeveloped with complex divisions of mission objectives and responsibilities between the public, church and entrepreneurial colleges. The impact of their training on the socio-economic system is not well understood nor is the differential effects of domestic and external training in society, an impact if better understood would raise policy alternatives. If such an impact is known, an appropriate policy framework to enhance the different training modalities could be formulated and feasible strategies identified with an action plan to implement.
How can PNG account for the impact of higher education in PNG? There is no dearth of answers to this question. Theorists have long contended that the presence of higher education trained persons modifies general social environment. They have pointed to the varied activities of the higher education institutions in the areas of scholarship and other forms of inquiry as shown in individuals' maturity in social criticisms, policy analysis and cultivation of traditional arts, preservation of cultural heritage and advancing civilization. Also higher education is assumed to contribute to human equality. Yet while there is much research on human capital and economic development, in PNG inquiry into the benefits of higher education in national development is inadequate, specially the effects of internally trained Papua New Guineans and their externally trained counterparts.
There is rising interest is this issue from social and legislative demands for accountability of public funds earmarked for training on national priorities. This is important for the question that you posed and for a country as diverse as PNG, where much of the population remains unaffected by the inclusion of western modernization.
There is public anticipation to find out how the higher education sector will improve the internal and external effectiveness of meeting the social needs. The most serious problem is the limited abilities to evaluate the appropriateness of internal and external training and the effectiveness of their methodology. There is concern about what is happening to the higher education graduates and the sensitivity of higher education to the continuing diversity of social, cultural and economic needs in PNG. The limited extent of the growth of the economy in terms of the overall number of economically active people; informal, subsistence and non monetary components of the society will continue to play an important role in the lives of many people in PNG. Hence, many of the graduates from the higher education institutions who do not secure employment in the monetary sector would be expected to return or live in the informal sector. They could participate in the monetary economy as teachers of others and so multiply the impact of their training on society.
An academic challenge remains to be the study of the differential impact of internally trained nationals and those who receive their training outside PNG. This issue, because of the economic ramifications and the personal developments of individuals personally intrigues me. A few general questions may be useful for instance; Which group of university or college trained individuals have had the most telling impact on PNG's development? In which ways have either the internally educated people and their externally trained counterparts have been instrumental in finding answers to the most perplexing socio-economic problems facing PNG? Which institutions have trained the personnel employed in the major employment sectors. What kinds of people are employed in the economic, research and production sectors? Where are they trained? Which college trains workers in the social sciences? What is the mean educational qualification of the UPNG, UNITECH lecturer. What group of individuals is being recruited as CEOs in the industries, public service, communications and mining? Of the managers who were terminated for managerial inefficiency, etc. how many received all their training in PNG, how many received some of their training outside PNG and how many received all their training outside PNG? Who are most likely to associate themselves with politicians to advance in the corporate sector? The question goes on and on. But it has proven to be useful in dealing with the initial question.
Inquiries to unravel these questions would undoubtedly require long term studies involving both qualitative and quantitative paradigms and use of some advanced statistical measures. About which group of people is better suited for certain types of jobs, or high achievers, or most criminally minded, I don't know the answer. However, some have opined that locally trained people are more sensitive to PNG's traditional mores, then their externally trained counterparts. It has also been suggested that overseas-trained persons have a wider perspective of issues, more independent, and better managers then their domestically trained counterparts.
I suppose these are mere ideas until they have been subjected to some vigorous research and theoretical analysis. There is one thing I can say about the strength of overseas education, training and work experience is that in countries like the USA, the people who spearheaded their modernization were trained in German and English universities. Lately, there has being talk about a "Chicago Gang" who are instrumental in charting Chile's miracle economic revival. They are University of Chicago trained. In pre World War 1 period, Japan sent out its best minds to overseas countries for study and returned to make what it is today. Malaysia, Indonesia and many developing countries heavily invest in overseas training. Today these countries have developed to a state that would have been unimaginable had they restricted their high level training to their domestic institutions.
The closest PNG may have gone in this direction was in the special public service masters program between the Institute of Public Affairs at Waigani (ADCOL) and Wollongong University and ith the University of Guelp in Thunder Bay, Canada. I suspect these programs were designed to service the public service reform program, which has not only materialized but failed because of many complex factors, politics being the number 1. There are others, the largest to date is the Higher education Project.
If we are considering our competitiveness in the global economy, then an overseas training has high returns, if the individuals can apply the skills and knowledge in the most effective ways. But, superior skills and advanced knowledge apart, in the final analysis, it is the individual that will make the difference. There are many instances where overseas-trained persons have performed bellow par. I can think of many with overseas Ph.D. who were catapulted into senior executive positions and failed miserably (in administration and management), whilst their PNG trained counterparts had excelled.
Hence it goes, a paper qualification is not a guarantee that the beholder knows the link between idea and practice. How true as I am reminded of an old man's wise word years ago.
"Young man", he said; "productivity and achievement is like a man and his knife. Man must have idea and know how to translate those ideas from his brain through his hands to his knife. If the knife cuts and the person can clear a garden for his planting and his wife plants on cleared ground, then that man knows how to use his knife productively. If he cannot use the knife for what it meant, even if the knife is made of the most refined steel and sharp as a razor blade, that man is useless. The knife is only a tool, it is the man hand behind that metal knife that will make the difference."
I presume we can say the same about the question under discussion. It is not where one is educated that matters, but, how the person uses the education and skills to achieve some designated objective.
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