The Government of the Republic of Nauru

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Education development to revitalise the region


Government Information Office



For Immediate Release

Wednesday, 24 February, 2021


Education development to revitalise the region


Statement by

His Excellency the President of Nauru, the Honourable Lionel Rouwen Aingimea, MP



The Pacific region - all the members of USP - demands a University that empowers its people to face the challenges that may occur in the future. 


With over 40 per cent of our Pacific populations under the age of 25 we continue to have the opportunity to empower, through delivery of tertiary education, the ability to address the challenges of this century - from climate change, inadequate health care, high unemployment, lack of business opportunities, inadequate youth services and substance abuse. All of these issues demand good, consistent and transparent governance processes to support our capacity to address all of these challenges and drive our reform agendas.


As Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific (USP), the premier education institution in the region, I continue to be most concerned about events that led to the deportation of the Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia and his wife on February 4, 2021.  I am also concerned that such treatment to our staff should not happen again. USP expatriate staff need to be assured they have security of tenure - this is the way to secure and retain excellent staff both from within and outside the region. Allowing USP staff to operate across member countries will support their job security and enhance the academic reputation of the University.


I have been entrusted by the USP Council to Chair a sub-committee that will make recommendations to the Council about the Vice Chancellor's contract and his continuing in this role from one of the University's other member countries. The Sub-Committee will make its recommendations to Council shortly.


Professor Ahluwalia remains committed to the USP and to the Pacific and is keen to continue delivering on the USP education promise - to educate our youth whilst they stay in the region. 


During this hiatus, as Council resolves the status of his contract, I have invited Professor Ahluwalia to Nauru to witness first-hand the challenges that face countries in Micronesia and the South Pacific.  During this time, he will gain further understanding of how USP's regional campuses function outside the Fiji Laucala campus.


As USP's academic year is about to commence, the capacity to engage at a regional campus will provide the Vice -Chancellor with greater understanding of the realities faced by our students and allow him to reflect on innovative solutions which are so essential to the future of our leading tertiary institution. 


Working closely with the Nauru Ministry of Education, Professor Ahluwalia will be able to provide the Government of Nauru, and myself as USP's Chancellor, with advice on how we implement the vision of forging a stronger USP across the Pacific region.


The Vice-Chancellor's presence in Nauru will no doubt further inform his knowledge and help implement the urgently needed reforms that the USP Commission has recommended. It will also allow for innovation in curriculum planning and development necessary to revitalise our region. 


Education is the fundamental building block for our successful future, and I welcome Professor Ahluwalia and his wife to Nauru as we work together to make USP stronger to "Shape Pacific Futures".