Dear Editor – It is interesting to see what has transpired resulting in our students returning home.
As one who had the same experience some 23 years ago at the same place, I can say that we were directly at risk at that time.
The period was the Bougainville crisis and our now defunct ‘Field Forces’ were actually exchanging live fire with the ‘PNG Defense Forces’ at our common border with PNG.
Things got worse when the Post Courier and the National newspapers ran a serial of a 13-page letter the late Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni wrote to the Waigani government.
That made an uproar which had us directly in the line of the students’ anger, and we were credibly threatened.
However, we kept a low profile and let the governments resolve the issue at the political level as we were not in the capacity to do so.
Our students now are privileged as we now have a High Commission office at Waigani and that all issues could be addressed within that office.
We weren’t that lucky.
Two things I’ve learned from this situation and ours 23 years ago.
One, we were directly threatened and were at a higher risk of being harmed.
Our students now were not.
The other thing those of us who were there before learnt, was; that students who knew they were going to fail a semester or are failing generally, usually started unrest and protests.
The issues, even the current one have channels whereby they should be resolved, and that students, though claiming to be the brains of the nation, need to consider those procedures.
Never allow those who are failures to dictate on their terms what everybody else should do just to satisfy their selfish motives.
For now, I can say it was a good thing to return our students home, not because they were threatened, but because of losing too much of the semester.
But next time, we need to carefully monitor situations like this and be vigilant and make sure our learning is not disrupted just because we want to come home.
In the “Land of the Unexpected”, this will always be expected and we need to work closely with authorities there.
This would save us time and money and help with our students’ safety as well as our citizens living in our big Melanesian neighbour land.
We can help diffuse such situations by being knowledgeable about it and talking to the right people, keep calm, and be aware of our physical environment.
Wish those who returned a safe new year or semester of learning next year.
Nadi, Fiji Islands