The Vice Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra visited Solomon Islands to brief the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) on the role of the University in the region as well as on the development of the 4th Campus proposed for Ndoma, west of Honiara.
He was accompanied by Mr. Jaindra Karan, Director of Development, Marketing and Communications and the Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Fiji, H. E John Patteson Oti.
The visit was at the invitation of the Prime Minister as well as the Minister for Education and Human Resources Hon. Dr. Derek Sikua, who was briefed in Suva during his short visit on 8 February.
The Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare said that his Government is fully supportive of the development of the 4th Campus in Solomon Islands.
“It is one of the urgent priorities of my Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) led Government to facilitate and partner with The University of the South Pacific to complete the project before 2018” said the Prime Minister.
“I was surprised to learn that Solomon Islands has only 25 PhDs, which is very low considering that Solomon Islands is the largest member country in terms of land area and second in terms of population” he added.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that USP plays a major role in training and capacity building of Solomon Islanders and almost every Solomon Islander in the service has been educated at the University, therefore USP plays an important role in the human resources development of Solomon Islands.
The Vice Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra briefed the PM and his key Ministers, Cabinet and Parliamentary Caucus on the new Campus and the major priorities of the University- the new USP Solomon Islands Campus being one of the major priorities. He thanked the Prime Minister and his Government for the unequivocal commitment of support to USP.
“The University believes in partnership with SIG and working together the development of the 4th Campus can become a reality – something that we should have done long ago. The discussion on the 4th Campus started in mid 1970s and the Governments previously and the current Government have supported the establishment of the 4th Campus,” stated Professor Chandra.
In advancing the work in relation to Ndoma Campus, the Government has agreed to the provision of infrastructure and utilities, undertaking topographical survey of the site, and clearance of unexploded ordnances (UXOs) by Government’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)Unit.
“USP is pleased to note that oversight of the development of Ndoma Campus development will be under the able leadership of the Minister for Education, and his Permanent Secretary. USP, for its part will ensure that we keep the momentum on the new Campus and provide all the support necessary to advance the work” added Professor Chandra.
Apart from UXO clearance, topographical survey and provision of infrastructure for Ndoma, USP will work closely with the Ministry of Education and Human Resources to initiate consultation on the development of an Academic Plan for the Campus by mid-March, in particular on the anchor programme for the 4th USP Campus. This is a requirement of ADB and the recent “Think Tank” meeting organized by the Government has provided a good start to this process.
In terms of the current Campus, USP is pleased to note that the Government has agreed to secure additional land alongside the existing Lawson Tama Campus to meet the immediate need of space constraints in view of increasing enrolments.
At a Press Conference in Honiara both the Solomon Islands Minister of Education and Human Resources Hon. Dr. Derek Sikua and Professor Rajesh Chandra acknowledged that, there is now a solid partnership between USP and SIG, which is very committed to the development of the 4th Campus.
The visit to the Solomon Islands has been exceptionally successful and the University hopes to get issues sorted out as quickly as possible.
– USP Public Relations office