IDRC Pan Asia Networking sponsorship

Communication For Development Program at University of Technology PNG

By:  Justin Kehatsin
Lecturer, Language & Communication Studies, Unitech

The PNG University of Technology is mainly concerned with technological or applied subjects. There are 12 professional departments which confer degree or diploma qualifications.  Within the university there is one service department which is Language and Communication Studies.  In 1995 this Department, while continuing its service function in the university, became the parent department of students in the program in Communication for Development which is the subject to be highlighted today.

Communication for Development Program

The development of natural resources in PNG is proceeding at an ever increasing rate.   In fact, mining and petroleum is and will be PNG's biggest revenue-earning sector.  The government recognises the importance of mining to the economy and that it needs to address development issues.  It has devised specific strategies, which, according to the present deputy prime minister, aims "to provide developers with secure land tenure, and to make sure arrangements with local landowners and communities are satisfactory so as to prevent a repeat of the Bougainville problems" (PNG Cynicism, 1994).

To implement what has been advocated, liaison officers are required to explain the technical details to the resource owners. The lingusitic and cultural diversity of the country requires many liaison officers for liaison with the communities and local level governments so that developmental projects may proceed efficiently and smoothly and benefit the economy of the country. Liaison officers are needed by the three main groups namely; the public sector, the private sector and the resource owners groups.

Recent research shows the need for highly trained liaison officers. The research was a case study of communication between the mining company, Kennecott, and the other parties on Lihir Island, New Ireland. It gave evidence of considerable dissatisfaction felt by landowners and the New Ireland Provincial Government. This case study plus the many cases of conflicts experienced nationwide illustrate the need to search for solutions.

Development of the program

The first step which the department took was to obtain an overview of whether university courses existed, both in PNG and elsewhere which may offer appropriately broad and in-depth training for those who presently work m positions such as public relations / community development / liaison officers in natural resource development government departments and landowner associations; or for school-leaven who may wish to persue a career in these areas. It was found that no courses with formal academic accreditation are available in PNG and elsewhere.

Among the academic institutions consulted were the Department of Language and Literature at the University of PNG, The Centre of Language in Social Life and the National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research at Macquarie University, the Department of Applied Linguistic at the Northern Territory University, and the Departments of Communication Studies at the Queensland University of Technology and Monash University. Some United States Universities offer related programs but sending aspiring Public Relations / Liaison Officers there is economically not a viable proposition.

After some research work done by the department it was felt that the objectives of the new course could now be clearly articulated, its structure could be made relevant to the needs of the clientele, and its interdisciplinary and practical features could satisfy both the requirements of students who wish to have broad employment options.

General Objectives of the program.

1. To provide an opportunity for practising development, liaison, community relations and personnel officers to gain further training and a deeper under-standing of the problems and solutions relating to the social tic, legal commercial technical, communicative and human issues which are crucial to national development.

2. To offer school leavers and adult matriculants an opportunity for professional training as development, liaison , community relations and personnel officers in those areas of the public and private sectors which are concerned with natural resources exploitation and development.

3. To respond effectively and appropriately to the needs of national and local level governments, companies engaged in development and landowners, for personnel with understanding and skills m communication facilitation at all levels.

4. To produce officers who have a fundamental grasp of the theoretical and practical issues involved m communication and liaison work, and an ability to exercise the necessary judgement, flexile circumspection, initiative and sensitivity to cope successfully with the demands of their profession.

5. To strengthen the economic stability of PNG by limiting the occurrence of Bougainville-like situations and to rationalise compensation claims.

The Structure of the Program.

The program is composed of four courses:

1. Certificate of Technology in Communication for Development

Duration: One semester with one two-week field work.

Courses: Semester 1

LC1OI--- Language and Communication for Development 1 (4)

LC131--- Negotiation Skills (3)

LC151--- Melanesian Society and Politics (4)

BA131--- Introduction to Business (3)

BA141--- Introduction to Law (3)

FR1OI--- Introduction to Forestry (2)

SV150--- Environmental Studies (1)

SV151--- Land Administration 1 (4)

Md-Year Break --- LCI81 --- Field Work 1 (2 weeks)

2. Associate Diploma of Technology in Communication for Development

Duration: Two semesters with one two-week field work

Courses: Semester 2

LC102--- Language & Communication for Development 2 (4)

LC112--- PNG Languages and Communication (4)

MA144--- Introduction to Information Technology (4)

AG122--- Rural Sociology (2)

BA132--- Principles of Management(3)

SV150--- Environmental Studies (1)

SV182--- Rural Valuation (3)

SV152--- Land Administration 2 (4)

Field Work --- one two-week session

3. Diploma of Technology in Communication for Development

Duration: Two Years-4 semesters

Courses: Semester 1

LCI211-- Language in Society (3)

LC231-- Conflict: Origins and Resolution (3)

LC233-- Critical Thinking (3)

LC261--- Training Education and Society (4)

BA243--- Commercial Law 1 (3)

SV241--- Land Management Law (4)

MA240--- Mathematics for Communication (2)

Mid-Year --- Field Work --- LC281--- (2 weeks)

Semester 2

LC202--- Media Studies (3)

LC212--- Principles of Translation & Interpretation (4)

LC232--- Public & Community Relations (4)

BA232--- Human Resources Management (3)

FR262--- Foundation of Forest Economics (4)

SV207--- Land Tenure (2)

LMC12--- Land Disputes Settlement (2)

MA240--- Mathematics for Communication (2)

4. Degree Programme

Third Year

Semester I

LC300--- Communicating with Landowners, Employees & Management (3)

LC341--- Technology and Society (3)

LC360--- Development Studies (3)

BA333--- Organisational Behaviour (3)

FR361--- Forest Economics (4)

ME301--- Engineer in Society (2)

MN391--- Mining Techniques & Mining Economics (4)

Mid-Year Break --- Field Work --- LC381 --- (2 weeks)

Semester 2

LC300--- Communicating with Land owners, Employees & Managernent (3)

LC322--- Social Change (4)

LC360--- Development Studies (3)

BA334--- Industrial Relations (3)

FR312--- Wildlife Basement (3)

MA342--- Statistics (4)

Fourth Year (For Degree)

Semester 1

LC481--- Industrial Experience ----- (one semester)

Semester 2

LC402--- Preparations of Proposals, Reports & Seminar (3)

LC472--- Case Studies: Communication in Forest & Fisheries (4)

LC474--- Case Studies: Communication in Mining & Petroleum (4)

BA447--- Administrative Law (4)

CE422--- Environmental Engineering 2 (6)

LMC13 --- Map Reading (3)

The program is composed of a total of 46 subjects; of these, 23 are existing subjects offered by other departments of the university, and 23 are new subjects not previously offered by the university.  Nineteen of these new subjects are offered by the Departmentt of Language and Communication Studies, three by the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, one by the Department of Mining Engineering.

Entry requirement is Higher School 'C' in English and appropriate work experience. Students are taken from companies, government departments and school leavers. In 1997, there were 46 students altogether - 22 in the first year and 24 in the second year. The course is gaining momentum and popularity.

By:  Justin Kehatsin
Lecturer, Language & Communication Studies, Unitech (Univsersity of Technology), Papua New Guinea

e-mail author:  c/o John Evans evansjoh3@email.com
Papua New Guinea © 2000

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