At a ground-breaking ceremony for Bougainville Polytechnic
College are (from left) Bougainville Minister for Education
John Tabinaman, MP Cosmos Sohia, Minister for Community
Development Melchior Dare, Otago Polytechnic chief
executive Phil Ker and Bougainville Governor Joe Lera.
Otago Polytechnic has formed an unlikely bond with a
war-torn island which could soon become the world's newest
Otago Polytechnic internationalisation director Marc Doesburg
said the link between the polytechnic and the Autonomous
Region of Bougainville was formed by ''happenstance'', as the
war-torn region sought to help turn its fortunes around
Following a visit to Dunedin by Bougainville Governor Joe
Lera in March, Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker
returned the favour last month, by attending a
ground-breaking ceremony for the Bougainville Polytechnic
The region, which is now part of Papua New Guinea, could
become a separate country. An independence vote could be held
as early as next year.
Mr Doesburg said the plan was for the first building of the
polytechnic to be completed by December.
Otago Polytechnic was helping to set up the institution.
The link between the two institutions was formed through word
of mouth, after Sidcorp director Mahmood Siddiqi, who is
helping the Bougainville Government, heard positive things
about the quality of education offered at the polytechnic.
The Otago Polytechnic was helping set up the systems used at
the Bougainville polytechnic and tailoring some of its
programmes for the Bougainville population.
One of the challenges would be Bougainville's high illiteracy
''Part of the model is embedding literacy and numeracy into
their vocational learning.''
Building links was largely about helping out in the wider
Pacific region and not about making money.
''It's not going to contribute significantly to our returns.
We are hoping to break even,'' he said.