“Official Blessing & Opening of the Redfern Jarjum College (13 April 2013)”

April 14, 2013 at 5:58 am (Aborigines, Catholic Church, Commentary, Education, Jarjum College, Jesuits in Australia)

On 14/04/2013 8:43 AM, Deborah Wall wrote:

David, Judith Clarke and I were looking for you and Bill yesterday.

Judith did get to meet your daughter, I gather.  But we couldn’t find you. Pity.

Mum Shirl’s figure has found its rightful place.

Regards

Deborah

Deborah, my wife, Judith, my friend, and I were very disappointed to miss seeing Bill Clements and his wife, Barbara.

Overall the  opening was very successful, and I’ll leave others to describe it, but for me, there were  three highlights:

1. Seeing Bill Clements’ bronze statue of Mum Shirl. This is truly a remarkable work, and in the category of a great work of art – Bill, my sincere congratulations!

2. Speaking briefly to Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales and Administrator of the Commonwealth: ” Your Excellency, my family knew your family in Narrandera, my father was Dr Jim Wall of East Street, Narrandera, and I’ve written a book about him, which I’ll send you.” Her Excellency was obviously pleased, and she thanked me.

3. I spoke to Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney: ” Your Eminence, you were the cause of me losing $20. I bet $20 on you being the next Pope.” The Cardinal, with an amused look on his face, told me that it was unwise of me to do so, and he concluded by thanking me nevertheless. In this brief encounter the good Cardinal impressed me!

Everyone at the gathering seemed most impressed with Jarjum College, and there was a large measure of public approval. A little element of concern and disapproval was heard from what I would call the sidelines!

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“A god from afar looks graciously upon a gentle master…”

November 11, 2012 at 6:40 am (Commentary, Education, philosophy)

Yesterday I viewed the 1951 British film, The Browning Version, starring Michael Redgrave — thoroughly recommended! The film is based on the play by Terence Rattigan, and he wrote the screen script.

The words from Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, struck a cord with me, and awakened something within me which I would like to think is a part of my better self! The ring of them remains with me: “A god from afar looks graciously upon a gentle master…”

The wisdom of the Classical Greek Writers comes alive in Hellenic studies, and the failure of our present education system in not teaching the glories of antiquity in language and literature is a glaring deficiency in Australian pedagogy!

Get back to the Ancient Greeks!

There are some who feel that the answer lies in the soil, and they look to New-Age remedies to solve world problems. Western societies seem largely disillusioned with their Christian heritage, and somehow feel that preliterate peoples had the answers. It is common to hear indigenous cultures called civilisations. On the other hand, I suppose, one has to allow each to his own!

I think that much of the ancient civilised world was a precursor to the coming of Christ and the Christian message. Agathon 446? – 401 B.C. — maintained that: Even God cannot change the past. The Seven Wise Men of the Ancient World were said to say: Know thyself. Another saying of the Ancient Greeks was: Nothing in excess. We have on record St Thomas Aquinas’ acknowledgement of his debt to the great Aristotle 384 – 322 B.C.

In all of this I’m reminded of Belloc’s words: Europe is the faith and the faith is Europe — or roughly this!

Hilaire certainly did write: When I am dead, I hope it may be said: ‘His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.’

I now wander the earth baffled by humanity’s problems — I’m sure we are all going somewhere; but the big question is where?

Did the Ancient Greeks have the answer? Perhaps there is an answer in the words of G.K. Chesterton: The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.

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The reflections and thoughts of Ralf Stüttgen

November 3, 2011 at 10:06 am (Aid, Civil War in PNG, Commentary, Education, Mining, Panguna Mine on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, philosophy, theology)

I’ve just returned from a fortnight stay in Wewak. While there it was a pleasure to meet up with my old friend, Ralf Stüttgen. Ralf’s views on philosophy, theology, science, politics and the state of PNG are always informative. A subject of great concern to him is the quality of education in PNG. Education is the key to a country’s enlightenment and without it true development is impossible.

Readers of this blog would be aware of other articles that Ralf has written and I refer to a small biographical sketch of him:

Ralf Stüttgen was born in Berlin in 1939. He was educated at a Jesuit High School and in a Divine Word Seminary. In 1967 he was ordained a priest. In 1968 he came to the East Sepik District of Papua New Guinea and worked as a missionary until the early seventies; subsequently leaving the priesthood and working in agriculture in PNG. He now lives in Wewak and owns a guest house and deals in Sepik art. For many years his abiding interest has been about education and development in the Third World. It is his firm belief that without the delivery of quality education en masse countries will forever be stuck in a quagmire of underdevelopment and poverty. Good education and training are not only economic imperatives but are also the rights of all people. With these thoughts in mind, Ralf wants to awaken policy makers and politicians to positive action to facilitate the delivery of quality education to their people.

In conversation we covered the subject of the importance of adequate sleep that all people need to function properly. According to Ralf overworked medical doctors in Germany have the highest rate of suicide in the country. Teachers are more inclined to suffer a condition of mental ‘burn out’ than those of other professions. The political correct commentators mistakenly talk about indigenous people living a natural life. This is highly questionable in the modern world where many native people have poor diets and live in polluted areas. On theological questions and the place of an Almighty, Ralf put forward the following views: God is existence. God is logic. God is reason. God is good with all the virtues. He posed the question: if one had a video camera at the time of Christ’s Resurrection would one have been able to film it? A clerical colleague of his from Germany said, no.

These snippets are food for thought and are engaging topics.

Ralf gave me three written pieces which I’ll reproduce here. The first was written on the 28/12/ 1997.  Surprisingly his statistics don’t need much updating and certainly his conclusions are still valid.

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA  by Ralf Stüttgen, Wewak, 28th December, 1997

Education is a human right, and successive governments of PNG have been violating that right.

After twenty-seven years of independence:

– 48% of the people are illiterate

– 30% of children never enter a school

– Drop-out rate grade one to grade six is 75%

– Drop-out rate grade one to grade twelve is 99%

– Every year the government produces 50,000 drop-outs, for whom there is no high school, no training, no jobs.

– By now PNG has one million school drop-outs, over one quarter of the population.

– The East Sepik Province alone is short of twenty high schools. For the country as a whole the figure is four hundred.

– The government’s neglect of education is criminal. It is to be blamed for the ever increasing crime rate. It produces criminals.

– Not more police, but more teachers we need.

– The workforce in PNG is not being developed. We have a workforce of grass cutters. As a result nobody wants to invest here.

What could be done?

As a first step to increase and improve education, the government should start financing private schools. The existing private schools provide better-quality education.

PNG’s budget for education is between three and four percent of the total national budget. By comparison, some countries invest up to 25% in education annually.

If PNG wanted to educate all its school-age children, the education budget would have to be five billion. As this is not possible, foreign aid has to be sought. We should approach better developed countries to provide schools, complete with teachers and buildings, and get long-term committments from them. The World Bank could do something.

Unless we do a lot more for education, and soon, Papua New Guinea’s future consists of two alternatives: be exploited slaves of other nations, or – just die out.

EQUALITY IN EDUCATION  by   Ralf Stüttgen, Wewak  (Written over ten years ago for somebody in the Dept of Education)

Most Papua New Guineans have their children in Community Schools, Provincial High Schools and National High Schools, most, but not all. Many nationals, well paid public servants, politicians, businessmen, company employees – all those who have money, send their children to the International Schools. And all expatriates who can afford it, do the same. Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, English, Filipinos, Chinese – nobody of these would even think of putting his child into a community school.

Why do these people do this?  What are their motives?

The Community Schools are there for the children of this country, to prepare them for life in the community. – Do they? – Is that really so? Or, are these schools a way to nowhere? Just to prepare these kids for a life of frustration and joblessness. (Even if they had a bit of Agriculture and Nutrition in school.)

What do those parents think who spent ten thousand kina in school fees per child per year? They make this big sacrifice because they want to give their children the best education available. And why do all the other parents in Papua New Guinea not send their children to International Schools? Do they think the Community Schools are better? No. They just cannot afford it. The International Schools are only for the rich. And anyway, there are not enough International Schools to go around for everybody.

What would happen if all PNG parents had the choice, a real choice, to send their children to International Schools? Or to a Community School, whichever they prefer? Let us say the Government or somebody else would pay all the school fees?

Now Papua New Guineans do not have a free choice, because they do not have enough money. They are forced to put their children in Community Schools, for economic reasons. But these Community Schools are for blacks only. Like ghetto schools in some cities in America, where nobody else wants to send their children, only the blacks who cannot afford a better school.

This is like it was in South Africa, where they had Apartheid, the good schools for whites, the cheap schools for blacks.

In South Africa the Apartheid policy was forced upon the black people. Out here in PNG the black people are free. Out of their own free choice they have accepted Apartheid in education, though forced upon them by their government.

This is discrimination! Racial discrimination. We are discriminating against the black people of this country. Parents are not given the chance to choose for their children the education they would like.

The people of Papua New Guinea want equality with the people of other countries and races! And real equality between nationalities is only possible if there is equality in education.

People must be able to get schooling, equal to that of the people in other countries. Otherwise they will never achieve the same income and standard of living.

With a second-rate education Papua New Guineans will forever remain the exploited slaves of other nations!

If the answer to this is only money; I think the money can be found.

Should the Panguna Mine on Bougainville be reopened?  by Ralf Stüttgen, Wewak, 2011

The mine should be reopened only under one condition, namely, that all Bougainville children go to International Schools. From grade 1 to grade 12, compulsory. And the mining company organises and finances this.

Only if this is done will the people of Bougainville have hope of enjoying a better standard of living, comparable to that in other countries.

If this is not done, forget about reopening the mine. The people will not benefit from the mine; they will remain the exploited fools of outside interests.

One alternative remains: killing all landowners. It has been tried before.

Leaving education, in Bougainville, or about anywhere else in PNG, to the Department of Education, is not possible. They have proved already they cannot do it – 36 years after Independence half the population are illiterate. The money for education has been around, but due to corruption and mismanagement, it does not reach the people.

Therefore, at least in Bougainville, the mining company should be put in charge of providing education. They have access to man power and they are able to control the funds.

For this reason, it is in the interests of the mining company, that Bougainville gets complete independence. Otherwise, the proceeds from the mine will go to Port Moresby first, and from there very little will come back, not enough to provide international education.

If mining on Bougainville is to avoid causing another civil war, we better learn from the mistakes of the past, and let fairness, justice, and equality prevail.

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Position Vacant

September 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm (Education, Papua New Guinea, Sepik River)

The Sepik Institute For Higher Learning

Keram River ESP

Papua New Guinea

Email: higherlearning@yahoo.com.pg

Position vacant: Course compiler and student coordinator

The Institute is a grassroots organization that caters for
gifted students. The person we seek for the above position must be an educated
man of mature years who’s not afraid to challenge our students to strive for
greater things. We would tend to favour a man with a military and legal
background. The person we want should be steeped in the Anglican tradition with
a love of the Book of Common Prayer and the Authorized Version. His eschatology
would embrace the Rapture, Tribulation, Armageddon and the Second Coming of the
Lord. Our institution has no protocols but only the Ten Commandants. The
science we promote is biblically based and not evolutionary.

This is a career position for a dedicated and hard-working
pedagogue, should you be such a person we would like to hear from you.

The successful applicant will live on the fat of the land,
all the saksak and fish he can eat,
leave every five years and paid return fares to Sydney with accommodation
provided for a fortnight at the residence of an Institute supporter in Newtown.
The honorarium will be more than generous and over five years will amount to
thousands of dollars.

All applications shall be treated in the strictest
confidence.

Brian de Solomon PhD

Institute Guardian

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