PNG PM trying to save academic year

4:35 pm on 6 July 2016

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, says his government is negotiating with the University of PNG in an effort to save the academic year.

The university council terminated studies for the remainder of 2016 due to the disruption caused by the students' two-month class boycott and subsequent violence.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Mr O'Neill told the newspaper PNG Today that if the academic year had to be extended into December, the government would do everything possible for the students to continue.

The council gave the students until Saturday to leave the university's two Port Moresby campuses.

But Mr O'Neill urged the students to stay calm while authorities find a way forward.

He said education was the top priority of the government and it could not see it being jeopardised.

"Government has invested tremendously in education every year to ensure students are well educated to become good citizens and contribute meaningfully towards the development of the country," said Mr O'Neill.

"The honour is on the students to think seriously about their education and the amount of effort the Government and their parents have put in for them to have a better education and a successful life in the future."

The student boycott began on 2 May in an effort to pressure the Prime Minister into stepping down to face fraud allegations.

Students at the University of Papua New Guinea have been boycotting classes in protest at the Prime Minister refusing to stand down.

Students during protests calling for the PM to step down. Photo: Supplied / UPNG4PNG

Led by the Student Representative Council, the boycott spread to the University of Technology in Lae and the University of Goroka.

The death of the student Graham Romanong in violence between students on 25 June has caused the indefinite suspension of classes at Unitech, while the University of Goroka said it was hoping to restart lectures next week.

Following its decision to abandon the academic year, the UPNG council voted to dissolve the SRC constitution effectively scuttling the student executive.

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