5 October 2012, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Suva, Fiji
A new course at the University of the South Pacific (USP) will provide training and a recognised qualification in leadership, governance and human rights for people throughout the Pacific region.
The new course will benefit those who have previously completed Community Paralegal training, and those working or volunteering in roles with a community or social development focus.
The new Diploma in Leadership, Governance and Human Rights is at undergraduate level and is funded by AusAID through the Pacific Leadership Program. The Diploma is a collaborative project by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and USP.
The Diploma will begin in the first semester of 2013.
Professor Vijay Naidu, Head of the USP School of Government, Development and International Affairs said that the new Diploma will meet a recognised need for knowledgeable people in the areas of leadership, governance and human rights.
'There are gaps at local, district, provincial, national and regional levels in leadership as well as in various sectors - government, non-government, business, education, agriculture, and so on,' said Professor Naidu.
'Governance is not well understood and the tension and conflict between customary forms of governance and the 'western' institutions of governance cause confusion, and even political instability. Likewise there are numerous issues relating to human rights and the changing nature of Pacific island societies. The rights of women, young people, commoners, ethnic and sexual minorities - as well as persons with disability - are all matters of concern that will be addressed by the Diploma, as well as the tensions between custom and modern outlooks relating to human rights,' said Professor Naidu.
Professor Naidu said it is hoped that the Diploma will produce people who are knowledgeable in leadership, governance and human rights, and who will use this knowledge in their work and daily lives to improve the lot of Pacific islanders.
USP has recently appointed Natasha Khan as the Coordinator for the new Diploma. Ms Khan, an Assistant Lecturer within the Department of Government, Development and International Affairs, has recently commenced work at USP.
'There are some 400 people in Pacific Island countries who have Community Paralegal training, working in government departments, community development or regional organisations, who would find this course of real benefit,' said SPC's Lionel Aingimea.
Mr Aingimea is a Senior Trainer with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT), the programme responsible for previous Community Paralegal (CP) training in the region.
SPC RRRT has developed the curriculum for the Diploma course in consultation with the USP School of Government, Development and International Affairs. Students enrolled in the Diploma will learn about theories of leadership, governance and human rights, and they will be encouraged to utilise their work and life experiences to make the theories more meaningful and applicable.
Mr Aingimea explained that the Diploma course is not limited to students with CP training. Enrollments are encouraged from people employed in government departments, community or regional organisations, or volunteering in faith-based organisations or community development programmes.
'Applications from women and people with disabilities are especially encouraged,' said Mr Aingimea. He added, 'USP will apply its mature-age entry criteria so completion of high school is not essential for enrolling in the Diploma'.
As many potential students are not in a position to pay university fees, the AusAID funding will provide scholarships to assist people to do the Diploma, either full-time or part-time.
People interested in studying the Diploma should act fast as applications for enrolment and for scholarships for Semester 1, 2013, close on 30 November this year.
People throughout the region will be able to study the Diploma without leaving home as it will be available by distance education. This will enable people to continue with their normal activities and family commitments while studying.
Enquiries about the Diploma should be directed to Ms Neeta Pratt, Secretary for the Diploma, at either [email protected] or phone (679) 3231848.