Papua New Guinea - Opportunity or Basket Case

Papua New Guinea has been in the headlines of late since riots erupted across the country. There has been reporting of dozens of wounded University students across the nation amid calls for Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to resign over corruption allegations.

The tendency to report on PNG using a language of deficit has become something of a norm. Unfortunately, this reporting tends to steer public opinion towards a normative view of all PNG peoples as violent, uneducated, corrupt and a basket case.

In a recent trip to PNG, Ray had the privilege of distributing his PhD thesis back to three wonderful school communities in the Western Highlands of PNG. Contrary to the normative view, It is a positive story of change that shows how local people themselves became agents of change across these three schools- painting the people of PNG in a very different light. Community leaders were present to receive the books and expressed their delight as they received them on behalf of their communities.

Ray also had the opportunity to conduct an evaluation of a very positive research for development project supporting the economic development of women smallholder farmers and their families in PNG. It is heartening to know that there are many people in PNG that are being effective agents for change and that people’s lives are being changed for the better.

In spite of the negative press that continues to come, PNG truly is a land of opportunity and many of their people are making significant contributions to strengthening their communities, the wider PNG society and global community – this is worth celebrating.