UPNG academic: Students withdrew, unable to concentrate

A good number of University of Papua New Guinea students have withdrawn from studies, claiming they are unable to concentrate.

This follows the shooting of students by police on June 8 during an attempted peaceful protest to Parliament. Four male students were admitted to hospital with bullet wounds while several others suffered minor injuries, allegedly at the hands of law enforcers.

Academics from the university revealed to Loop PNG that most of the students who have withdrawn are first years.

A staff from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences said at least 20 first year students from her group pulled out after classes resumed on September 5.

“Students from our course were split into 21 groups, with my group having at least 70 students. Based on reports from my colleagues, we are looking at a withdrawal of around 100 first year students from our course alone.”

Various strands from the school of business and public policy, as well as natural and physical sciences, have reported similar circumstances.

A science tutor told Loop PNG that most of the Solomon Islands students doing their science foundation year have not returned.

Another said: “For the first years, they will officially become university students once they have grades against their names. Otherwise, they will still be classified as school-leavers, just like this year’s Grade 12s, after they graduate.”

Though acting vice-chancellor, Dr Nicholas Mann, could not confirm the figures, he said: “Life is like that. People go through certain traumas and difficulties and when they cannot concentrate, they take time off to recuperate”.

“Students were given the opportunity to resume learning. Those who are strong and can muster the challenge have come in and continued.”

He gave the assurance that counselling was made available for all students who had been affected by the previous months’ events.

Semester two will start on November 7.

(File picture of students at the science block, main UPNG campus.)

Carmella Gware