Need for Major Asian Language Programs in PNG Tertiary Institutions


As Papua New Guinea continues to develop, the diplomatic relationship between PNG and major Asian countries will continue to evolve and strengthen. Asian countries will continue be  important and strategic trade partners for the following reasons:

PNG’s Proximity to the Asian Countries

PNG being located close to the Asian economies. The most populous nations on earth being China and India, and the most technological advanced nations in the likes of China, India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore and others are reachable by direct sea trade routes from major sea ports in PNG. For example, Madang, Lae, Port Moresby, Wewak and  Rabaul sea ports.

As the Asian economies continues to grow and expand, so too will be the demand for natural resources like timber, minerals, gas and etc which PNG has the potential to develop and export to these countries. This was evident in the number of LNG  shipments exported to Asia  from the Exxon Mobil PNG-LNG project. Related LNG export related  information

Increased Asian Business Investment in PNG

There is already evident of increased business investments from Asian owned and operated businesses in PNG. Some notable ones in cludes, Rimbunan Hinjau (HR) Group from Malaysia. They the biggest shopping mall in Port Moresby (Vision City) and The Stanley Hotel and other subsidiaries. Bismilah Holdings  which operates a chain of business in retail, clothing, fuel outlets and others. The owner has a naturalized citizen from Bangladesh.  TST Group of companies a long time Chinese family business in PNG.

In almost all the provincial towns in Papua New Guinea, the retails stores are operated by Asian owned businesses with very less local businesses.

China, Japan, South Korea, India and others are major trade partners of Papua New Guinea. Some establishing relations right after PNG got independence from Australia in 1975.

Addition to business investments is the labor movements. More and more people from Asia are now residing and working in various industries in Papua New Guinea.

The composition of PNG’s Foreign workforce by Carmen Voigt-Graf from Policy Development center at the Australian National University shows the increase of labor movement form Asia into PNG labor market.

Bank of China has opened its office in PNG and Bank South Pacific has established its operations in Cambodia.

PNG Automobile industry is dominated by Asian world vehicle brands likes  Hyudai and Kia  from South Korea, NissanToyota Isuzu and Mazda from Japan.

Need for Major Asian Language Programs in PNG.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of PNG’S ties with Asian countries on all major areas of economic and business and diplomatic relations, none of the PNG state and two private universities in the country are offering programs specially tailored towards Asian business and cultural environments. Also, not including major Asian languages like Japanese, Korean, Chinese Madarin in any of their programs.  Japanese government have started voluntary Japanese Classes in National High Schools in PNG like Sogeri National High School and Port Moresby National High School and University of PNG through the Japanese Embassy in Port Moresby. JICA Volunteer workers are often assigned to the teach these classes. However, interest is low because of the voluntary basis.

University of Papua New Guinea School of Business and University of Papua New Guinea School of Humanities Political Science Strand which offers courses on politics and international relations. There is no compulsory language related courses under their programs.  Even the UPNG school of Law which is the only Law school in the country doesn’t have a foreign language course. Yet there is a need for foreign language interpreters to assist in court cases that involve foreigners.

PNG University of Natural Resources and Environment (PNGURE) has no language courses when lots of Asian businesses are involved in natural resources such as fisheries, timber, spices, and etc. Most of the graduates will get employed in this sectors and language barriers can become a problem for them.

The world is becoming a global village and PNG cannot afford to ignore the importance of foreign language studies inclusion in the higher education programs.