The Lemakot school of Nursing has a reason to smile after they officially opened their new Student mess facility on Friday 11th June.
The event was graced by his eminence Archbishop of Rabaul Rochus Tatamai, Deputy New Ireland Governor Sammy Missen, Chairperson assisting the Governor in Finance and Womens Rep Misbil Nelson, members of the health department, Principal Cathreen Songonai, Students and other members of the community.
The Journey to have the mess facility completed was not an easy one, it took the Institution 5 years on and off to finally see it complete.
Principal Songonai said it started off using portions of school fees to build and then with assistance of K150, 000 through the New Ireland Government’s partnership with the Churches policy the building was finished.
“We thank the New Ireland Government and the Catholic Church for having the wisdom to direct funding to this very important institution that not only serves students from New Ireland but also from the rest of Papua New Guinea.
These students will later go out into remote communities and serve our people, we must invest in them,” said Principal Songai.
While the assistance by the Provincial Government is welcomed Principal Songai said there are alot more improvements that need to be made especially if the institution is to be part of the larger amalgamated New Ireland University concept.
“We are facing capacity issues, our facilities can only cater for 88 students, right now we have 120 students enrolled. Our dormitories need to be extended and we need more lecture rooms, 40 students in a classroom is too much.
We cannot have shift classes because that would stress our limited staff. In the past we never had day students, this is the first time, but we cannot turn students away so we’ve had to go down that road,” explained the Principal.
She said they’ve reached out to the National department of Health for its “Establishment Grants” but for four years now they have not been funding the general nursing program as yet.
While the Department of higher education has been assisting students under Hecas. “I would like to also call upon our two open members to assist this Institution the same way they are going into the communities and handing out goods.”
Deputy Governor Sammy Missen explained to those gathered that the New Ireland Government has been put in a difficult position after revenue from Lihir Mining Royalties meant to be allocated to the Provincial Government to disperse to the two districts via infrastructure projects has now been directed straight to the District Development Authorities.
“Unfortunately this has also affected the Government/ Church partnership grants and all the Policies including Free and Subsidised Education, Institutional Grants and Old Aged and Disabled Pensions.
The sad fact is that now the monies have become politicized by the two Open members, instead of funding projects that should be benefiting all New Irelanders they are now discriminating and only serving those who voted for them.
This is against the law because the Lihir Royalties as well as the District Services Improvement Program funds belongs to all New Irelanders, its the people’s money, not the politicians,” said Missen.
The new look and world class mess was blessed by Archbishop Rochus Tatamai and jointly opened with Deputy Governor Sammy Missen. A feast befitting the splendour of the interior was also served to all the guests and students to mark the occasion.