Konradus Epa, Jakarta – Indonesia's Papua is to have an international university to increase educational quality in the impoverished region after the government this week issued a permit for the project, which is backed by the local Church.
The International University of Papua (UIP), the first international university in the region, will be built this year by the Papuan Education Maga Foundation, which held a soft launch this week in Jayapura, capital of Papua province, after the go-ahead was given.
Papua and West Papua provinces are among the least developed regions in the country, with poor education standards often cited as a contributory factor.
"The university can provide young indigenous Papuans with a global insight so that they can compete at the national and international levels," said Samuel Tabuni, chairman of the Papuan Education Maga Foundation.
He said the university hopes to attract an initial 500 students to be taught by 24 lecturers in two faculties – science and technology and teacher training and educational science.
The campus will be built on about 30 hectares in Telaga Ria Hill in Jayapura district this year and will include offices, a college building, accommodation facilities for students, lecture theaters, an auditorium and a church.
The university should be a source of pride to Papuan people, who should not forsake the opportunities it will provide in the future
A presidential spokesman said it is hoped the university will raise educational quality in eastern Indonesia.
"It will hopefully provide a workforce that will meet new challenges in the job market," said Abetnego Tarigan, deputy chairman of the Presidential Staff Office.
Father Alberto John Bunay, chairman of the Papuan Indigenous Priest Forum, said he hoped the university would help empower young Papuans.
"Young Papuan people need to compete with other regions in Indonesia, so the government should support it," Father Bunay told UCA News on Feb. 18.
Sacred Heart Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Merauke in Papua also welcomed the university.
"The university should be a source of pride to Papuan people, who should not forsake the opportunities it will provide in the future," he said.