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Ten students from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) have joined Crawford School for a Summer School to learn all about research methods, public policy, economics, and governance.
Each year, ten of the best final year undergraduate UPNG students in economics and public policy go through a competitive process of rigorous academic assessments to be selected for the Pre-Sessional Program at Crawford School alongside incoming Masters students.
The first ANU-UPNG Summer School was held last year as an initiative of the official partnership between the two universities. The Australian aid program funds the partnership, and activities such as the Summer School, through the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct. Within Crawford School, the Development Policy Centre has taken the lead on the project, which is designed to build the next generation of policy leaders and scholars in PNG.
“We heard about the program through some of the ANU guest lecturers that come to UPNG through the ANU-UPNG partnership, and through the PNG Update organised by the Development Policy Centre,” Beverly Rawia, one of the summer school students says.
“When I was studying at UPNG, I never thought I would be competing and studying with others like this. I had to push hard, work and study more. Coming here is a privilege,” Shirley Nandape adds.
“In the policy and governance course, we talk about the challenges that policymakers face, and whether the solutions they come up with are actually reasonable, and how they impact the lives of people,” Beverly says.
“We learn about different ideologies and different concepts of policy and governance, but we also get practical learning skills. Our IT systems back at UPNG are quite poor and most students are almost IT illiterate. We used Wattle for the first time with the help of our lecturers.”
“Learning here is much more focused on research. I’m passionate about research and I hope to get more skills out of my stay here and build new networks with people from all over the world,” Raphael Yanka adds.
For the students, the learning environment and the teachers who encourage them to share their own ideas are what stand out about studying at Crawford School.
“The summer school has exposed us to a completely new learning environment. The workload here is much higher. In the morning, we have a lecture and then we’ll have a quiz in the afternoon – that is something completely new to us,” Mouna Narara says.
In addition to their classes, the students are also engaging in a wide range of extra-curricular activities, including visiting Canberra sights such as Parliament House, having dinner-time discussions with leading researchers and diplomats, and playing beach cricket on a trip to the South Coast.
“The environment is very conducive to learning. At the same time, we also have a sightseeing program, and we’ve learnt so many life skills,” Keith Kisso Napto says.
“Lecturers and teachers are really trying to get students engaged in discussions – it’s helping students to think critically and outside the box,” Beverly adds.