By Poreni Umau and Phoebe Gwangilo in Kokopo
Kokopo Business College in Papua New Guinea’s East New Britain province has evicted male students by force from its dormitories and dumped them onto the streets after a spate of school disturbances on Monday.
Police brutality against male students is alleged and female students were also reportedly kicked out in the heat of the moment.
School principal John Karis told the PNG Post-Courier yesterday that the removal was an extreme reaction to “extremely disturbing actions” carried out by students within the past week.
Karis used the police and Guard Dog Security to move into the school’s boys dormitory at midday on Monday, forcing male students, mostly self-sponsored, out of the school’s boarding area.
They were moved onto the streets with their luggage.
Karis branded the action as “a move to save school property”, especially dormitories and lives.
He said the students brought it on themselves following post-exam continuous drinking, loud noise from music, drunken dancing and the burning of beds, the tearing down of interior walls, and ripping out of cupboards, doors and windows in the dormitories.
‘Education is a right’
“Education is a right but the dormitory is not a right. It is a privilege and as self-sponsored students boarding is not your right,” Karis said.
He said the school had the right to look after students under the HECAS programme while those under self-sponsorships were immediately sent off campus.
“I feel sorry for them but the property of the school belongs to the people of PNG and I must protect the buildings,” Karis said.
The students claimed that there was no written warning from the school advising them of such action, saying that some policemen punched male students, verbally abusing them and forcing them to pack up and leave the school.
They also claimed that they were victims of the attitude of fellow students under the HECAS programme who were leaving early. The fellow students were said to have celebrated under the influence of alcohol before damaging school property leaving them to take the blame.
“We were surprised when police approached us and told us to pack our belongings and immediately leave the dormitory,” second year student Josh Bobai told the Post-Courier.
“There were about 50 to 60 of us, male students who were forced out of the campus.”
Female students ordered out
A female student who did not want to be named corroborated the male student accounts by stating police had also approached female students, ordering them to vacate the girl’s dormitory.
“It was around midday when police approached us. I argued with the policeman telling him that we are students from outside provinces and that we had nowhere to go,” she said.
“He threatened to forcefully move us if we did not listen to orders. So we moved out but later the school administration called us back in.
“There was no notice advising us to leave the school so that we could prepare and leave.”
Karis, however, rejected the male students’ account saying thde statements were “lies”.
The students stated that the school had advised the final year students that graduation was set for November 19, 2021.
Due to this set date, many had booked home journeys after this date and now had nowhere to go.
However, Karis said he had advised the students on November 10, 2021 that graduation hasd been deferred to next year as diploma awards came from Port Moresby and they were not ready in time for graduation.
Poreni Umau and Phoebe Gwangilo report for the PNG Post-Courier. Republished with permission.