Police in the National Capital District have arrested and charged with one account of official corruption and nine counts of abuse of office. According to report in the National Newspaper, Fr. Jan Czuba’s arrest was part of a K4.2-million-kina fraud investigation in relation to engagement of Polish software company PCG Academia to provide and manage software facilities for the National Online Selection System (NOAS) and government’s Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). The newspaper report quoted Police Detective Supt Mathew Damaru stating Fr.Czuba “ engaged his business partners and associates on goods and services from his private companies” which he authorized. “Police investigations have established that the procurement of software services from PCG Academic were illegal and cannot be enforced. However, despite being the contract illegal and not enforceable, DHERST paid more than K4.2 million under the purported contract from 2017 to 2020. Police investigations also revealed that Fr.Jan had used his office to engage long-time associates and business partners and a consultant for the software program”.
Source: The National Newspaper, Thursday 10th December 2020, page 6
Possible Implications of this Case On the Higher Education Sector in PNG.
DHERST National Online Application System (NOAS)
The National Online Application System (NOAS) is the online system implemented by DHERST to automate the National Grade 12 School Leavers Selection process for admission into the tertiary institutions nationwide. In the past it national tertiary admission selections were done using what is known as National School Leavers Application Form (SLF) which the Grade 12 students fill and submit to DHERST. Then DHERST fund the gathering of selected representatives from all the tertiary institutions in the country to congregate at a designated venue to assess forms and do their admission selections based on the student’s program preferences and their Grade 12 Final Examination Results.
The NOAS went live during the selection of students for 2019 in December of 2018. This year (2020), it will be the 3rd year of operation.
Higher Education Help Program (HELP)
This program is the National Student Loan program for students where government allocated money to DHERST to administer and loan to students who apply under the program. The program was launched early this year in may this year (2020) and first batch of payments were released by DHERST to participating institutions for students whose applications were successful.
Download the HELP Guide documentation from PNG University of National Resources (PNGUNRE) website.
PCG Academia Software Company
PCG Academia is polish software company which specializes in Higher Education Software Services around the world. This company is the one contracted by DHERST to administer these two key National Government initiatives.
The Prime Minister James Marape launched the HELP Program using PCG as posted on PCG Academic Blog.
Implications of the Case on the Higher Education Sector in PNG
Of both the NOAS and HELP were implemented under the leadership and term of Fr.Jan CZuba as Secretary for DHERST. In the event the case goes into the PNG Courts and contract of PCG Academia Software Company is found to be illegal successful implementation of these two national government initiatives will be at stake. As the court process drag on it is sure to have some effect on the administration of these programs by DHERST as the case develops. That transpires next will be something parents, administrators of higher learning institutions, students and higher education sector in PNG need to closely watch.
Professional Background of Fr.Jan CZuba
He was the former President of Divine Word University in Madang, Papua New Guinea. Currently is the Secretary for DHERST and also the President in Charge of Papua New Guinea’s new University-Western Pacific University. Western Pacific University is set to receive its first intake of 250 students in 2021 Academic Year. He is from Poland in Europe.