New John Coleridge Patteson University unveiled in Solomon Islands

 In stillness and to the sound of the mountain breeze the ropes were pulled down to unveil the new logo of John Coleridge Patteson University (JCPU)in Central Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands.

It was a new dawn in the country’s tertiary education as the Anglican Church of Melanesia marked the dedication and laying of the foundation stone on the 167 hectors land in Central Guadalcanal for the establishment of the university.

John Coleridge Patteson University unveiled in Solomon Islands
The new logo unveiled as JCPU ready to be built. Photo by Solomon Islands Business Magazine

The ACOM hierarchy, which include all its diocesan bishops, senior government officials, the Premier of Guadalcanal and landowners were present to witness the historic event.

Also today’s event officially marks the full control of the land by the church from the landowners, which will now allow them to start building the university.

An elated Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, Leonard Dawea said the vision to establish a church university has long been with the church for almost two decades after a resolution to explore the idea of establishing a university was first discussed in the 12th General Synod in Honiara in November 2008.

He said the plan was further discussed and reviewed three years later in 2011, in which the church has decided to make a commitment that could meaningfully translate the foundational philosophy of the Melanesian Mission that would draw on holistic approach to socio-economic, educational, religious and technical development.

The Archbishop says the church left obligated to provide such educational needs to maintain her historical legacy in providing quality educational opportunities to islanders since the Melanesian Mission was began in the early 1849.

Dawea said for many nations overseas, the separation of Church and government is clearly defined, the exact opposite is true of Solomon Islands, especially in the fields of education and development.

“The church was in the islands before any form of government was established, but after the governments were formed, there was a distinct partnership relationship between church and state,” he said.

The Archbishop said the Anglican Church gained independence in 1975 and the nation three years later from Britain, in the fledgling nation, partnership between church and state was vital to its development; and the partnership became stronger.

 Dawea stated it was the church that established the first teachers’ training college, the first school of nursing and the first theological college, all of them in the 19th or early 20th centaury.

But he said in the 21st centaury, with the general population having become much educated, the needs are greater.

“Our people can no longer be shipped out to foreign countries and cultures to gain tertiary degrees at enormous cost. We must provide quality education, at least at undergraduate level, or even postgraduate for our own people.

“The vision to establish JCPU is by far, grounded on this need, and not to the desire for competition. It sought to compliment the continuing learning academic excellence that our major tertiary education providers, the Solomon Islands National University and the University of the South Pacific (USP) are currently delivering to our nation and people,” he said.

Dawea said however with JCPU establishment, the university will seek to maintain and instil Christian discipline and moral values in the overall university life.

Permanent Secretary of Education and Human Resources Development, Dr. Franco Roddie said this is not the very first time that the ACOM has planted a seed in education.

“I am so pleased that you have planted the seed because it means to me and my ministry that you are creating a future for our young generation. We are creating futures— but they have to determine the future that they want. It is our responsibility to create a future by establishing this institution so that they too can realize their full potential,” he said.

Dr Roddie said on its part the government will be supporting the new university.

 Premier of Guadalcanal Francis Sade in congratulating ACOM, commended them for once again taking the lead in the education sector.

He said the university will hugely benefit his province and the Solomon Islands.

At the same time, he reiterated his call for the churches to take the lead in the education sector.

“We just don’t want an educated society we also need societies that have values and this is the sense in churches taking the lead in the education sector,” he said.

He appeals to Guadalcanal people to support the university and respect those that will be studying there.

Speaking on behalf of the landowners and trustees as a person who dealt with the land since day one, Fr Benedict Garimane said what was witnessed today was not an easy road. “It’s a road of challenges. I want to tell the church that these people (landowners) have given the land to the church whole heartedly,” he said.

“Now I want you to support the church to do its work on the land,” he said.

Work on the new university will now start after today’s event.

Solomon Islands Business Magazine / Study Awards

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