Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare told a high-level delegation from the Solomon Islands National University led by the Vice- Chancellor Dr Glen Galo that it is the intention of the Democratic Coalition for Change Government to improve both the facility and academic status of the institution to cater for tertiary education needs of the country.
The delegation which includes the Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic), Professor Basil Shelton Marasinghe, Director of Institutional Planning and Development, Mr Narendra Prasad and Deputy Registrar, Mr Chris Hunipouro met with the Prime Minister today to inform the Prime Minister about the institution’s infrastructure development project proposals with the intention of securing financial support from the Government for their implementation.
The projects contained in the SINU Strategic Plan for 2016 to 2020 include the construction of a major academic complex and the refurbishment of the newly SINU-bought old Malaria Research Centre building.
The delegation also used the opportunity to raise with the Prime Minister, the possibility of the Government providing fully-funded (Solomon Islands) Government scholarships for SINU students just as it is doing for students undertaking studies at other tertiary institutions in the Pacific region as well as the need of recruiting expatriate staff.
“We are so glad to have this audience with you this morning Prime Minister to update you on what we are planning in terms of
infrastructure development at SINU and seek financial assistance from the Government towards their implementation.
“The major project we have is to build a major academic complex that would cater for 350 seat capacity lecture theatre, 50-seat conference room, 14 classrooms and workshops, media room, bookshop, kitchen, cafeteria, staff offices and student amenities. With the completion of this particular project, SINU would not only meet the requirements of a growing university but have in place a state-of-the-art building that will place it at a comparable status to any other university in the region in terms of quality infrastructure.
“The total cost of this building is anticipated to be around SBD$130-million and based on project cost and financial projections, SINU would require additional funding of SBD$50- million for this project.
“The other project we would like to bring to your attention is the refurbishment of the old Malaria Research Centre building that SINU has just bought and turning it into an accommodation facility for the School of Nursing students. Nursing intakes is increasing annually and with the accomplishment of this project, we can accommodate all our nursing students in spacious building which conveniently located near the School of Nursing.
“The other issue we would like to raise with you is Government- funded scholarship programme with SINU. Right now students are only partially sponsored by the Government and this has an impact on the students as some find cannot afford to meet their obligation in meeting the other half of their fees.
“We believe that the Government should equally treat its partially sponsored students at SINU as other Government sponsored students at regional institutions by fully funding their studies so they can be able to complete them and in turn contribute to nation-building in their various fields of study.
“The final issue we would also like to raise with you is recruitment of more expatriate staff at SINU from Australia, New Zealand and
elsewhere abroad because the more expatriate staff we have, the more recognition we will get.
“We would like to bring in more professors by merit from abroad but the current salary and employment conditions provided by SINU is not attractive and we would like to explore the possibility of securing tax-free salaries for expatriate staff,” Dr Galo said.
In response the Prime Minister said, “I am glad that you have come to discuss these important issues with me as I believe this is the right time to discuss them.”
He said, “The current situation in Papua New Guinea which has resulted in the repatriation of Solomon Islands Government sponsored students studying at various universities there highlights the importance of the Solomon Islands Government improving the facility and academic status of SINU to be able to accommodate our students so they would not need to go abroad to undertake tertiary studies.
“The Democratic Coalition for Change Government is taking this direction now and your move to improve the infrastructure and academic status of SINU is of the interest of the government and certainly we will look at your propositions and see how we can assist you in these significant undertakings.
“Also, education is one of the sectors that donors are keen to fund and it’s just a matter of putting your project proposals across to them.”