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Subject: Deplorable student ignorance

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Date Posted: Mon, Aug 14 2006, 10:30:26pm
In reply to: Mono 's message, "Re: No bail for university rape suspects - Both Engans" on Mon, Aug 14 2006, 06:50:33pm

Deplorable student ignorance
PAPUA New Guinea is fortunate to have many people who staunchly support the role of universities.
They claim that PNG’s future lies in the hands of university graduates, and they proudly point to the strides taken in other developing countries as a result of heavy investment in university education.
Nobody can seriously claim that PNG governments have ignored the tertiary sector in this country.
Since independence, hundreds of millions of kina have been spent in order to provide access to university education, and government after government has stressed the importance of pure and applied research.
In the early years of university education in PNG, students accepted to study at the capital’s University of Papua New Guinea, or a little later, at the University of Technology in Lae, regarded themselves as receiving a very special privilege.
They had been singled out from thousands of other students, and accepted to pursue university courses.
Plucked from often parochial schools, they found themselves facing the apparently endless horizons of universities and tertiary courses well regarded on the international scene.
The graduates from UPNG and from Unitech were in those days well respected products of their own efforts and of the PNG tertiary system.
Their professors and lecturers were a potent mix of Papua New Guineans and international academics, men and women of vision, who were inspired by the chance to create something new and worthwhile in virgin tertiary territory.
And the atmosphere of both universities reflected student commitment to learning, to research and to the pursuit of personal betterment that could also be put to use for PNG.
If that sounds far removed from today’s universities, and of the students they host, then it is time we asked why that should be.
What possible explanation can there be for university students, supposedly champions of freedom of speech, of the pure unvarnished truth, of the democratic freedoms and rights of their nation and their people – what explanation can there be for them attacking the Lae premises of this newspaper and on two occasions setting fire to quantities of The National?
It is claimed that these students were reacting to coverage in The National made against two of their number, who have since been arrested and charged with rape.
This newspaper carried a statement issued by the Commander of Police in Lae, in which he noted that two suspects, believed to be university students, were being sought in connection with accusations of rape.
A woman who was allegedly trying to visit her brother on campus late one afternoon stated that she had been held and raped over an extended period by two suspects. Publication of this story led to an angry gang of students descending on our Lae office demanding “an apology” and denying the incident and the paper’s right to report the matter. Some copies of The National were burned.
Worse behaviour was to follow. Students burned more than 300 copies of the paper at the university gates on Thursday morning. The students were reportedly “angry” with the coverage of the incident by The National on that morning.
The newspaper had reported the arrest and charging of two second year students, who have appeared before the Lae District Court for mention, and have been refused bail.
They are being held in custody at Buimo jail awaiting a second court appearance on Aug 21.
The charge of which the two students stand accused is a matter for the courts, and we have no comment to make.
We do have comments to make about the appalling ignorance of a bunch of students who cannot distinguish between those who allegedly commit a crime, and those whose duty it is to report the matter.
These protesting students do not have even the rudiments of knowledge of freedom of speech, of the media, or of the population at large.
They are a disgrace to those who have paid for their tuition, and to the excellent reputation of the university they attend.
We note without the slightest surprise that their fury and anger has been directed solely at the media, and not at those suspected of the vicious and indefensible act of rape.


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