UPNG-JCU Twinning Partnership

    Academic, research and teaching ties between James Cook University in Australia and the University of Papua New Guinea are continuing to grow from strength to strength.

    The UPNG-JCU Twinning Partnership is a product of the University of Papua New Guinea and James Cook University’s desire to work together to expand cooperation and the exchange of ideas, knowledge and expertise in areas of mutual interest. The partnership is supported by the Australian Government and managed by Palladium’s Education Capacity Development Facility.

    Since its inception in 2015, JCU and UPNG have been delivering programs and activities in cooperation with each other that are assisting UPNG improve its teaching and learning capability whilst expanding JCU's teaching, research and learning base in PNG.

    Through the project, JCU and UPNG have established a closer relationship between academic, professional and technical staff. These relationships have continued to be of benefit to both institutions and countries in terms of ongoing collaboration and attracting research and other funding to sustain momentum in the goals of the partnership.


    The Twinning Partnership supports UPNG’s mission to deliver excellent education and research results for nation building and global advancement towards an innovative and empowered society, and JCU’s commitment to creating a brighter future for life in the tropics world-wide through graduates and discoveries that make a difference.

    To date, more than 70 staff members from across UPNG and JCU have participated in Partnership activities. There is clear evidence of excitement about the Partnership’s potential, and signs that most of those who have participated in training are enthused and already implementing changes to their teaching and research. The success of this project has provided a solid foundation for partners to continue to collaborate to strengthen teaching, learning and research outcomes in PNG and the broader Asia Pacific Region.

    Oversight of the Partnership is provided by a Joint Steering Committee comprising:

    Distinguished Professor Stewart Lockie
    Professor Paul Fleming
    Professor Betty Lovai
    Professor Maxine Whittaker
    Professor Nakapi Tefuarani
    Professor Lekshmi Pillai
    Professor Andrew Krockenberger
    Professor Mange Matui
    Professor Maree Dinan-Thompson
    Professor Chalapan Kaluwin
    Dr Anna Joskin
    Australian High Commission Representative
    Education Capacity Development Facility Representative

    Success stories

    Focus on teaching quality

    Engagement in the scholarship of learning and teaching (SoTL) has been a major success story for Teaching Quality domain of the UPNG/JCU Twinning Project. Academic staff members who completed the Graduate Certificate of Education (JCU) and the Graduate Certificate of Tertiary Teaching (UPNG) all undertook small-scale projects that investigated teaching and learning and the student experience at the UPNG.

    These SoTL projects have been showcased at formal events held at the UPNG and open to all staff members; additionally, academic staff have published their findings from these projects in academic journals (see Huanduo, 2018 and Pape, in press). The key themes explored by those involved included, curriculum design, teaching with technology, pedagogical approaches and understanding the student experience. This group of academics also continue to deliver professional learning for colleagues at the UPNG in their respective areas of interest within learning and teaching.

    “The GCE(AP) program and series of Twinning activities have completely changed my life and career goals and aspirations. All my classes are now student-centred, I advocate for and try to maintain a level of quality in my assessments, teaching methods and research (and require the same to members within my division). I have completely changed the focus of my PhD research so that it is now based on improving mathematics learning in PNG. I want to now be involved in improving higher education for the rest of my life; I believe I have now found my niche in life.“ By Sharon Torao-Pingi, GCE Graduate 2018.

    Writing for publication workshop

    Published articles include: 

    Vaccination and nutritional status of children in Karawari, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea

    Dr Louis Samiak


    Delivery of health care services to rural and remote populations in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is problematic. This is mainly due to difficulties with transportation and communication. Hence, the children in this region of PNG are likely to be at risk of malnutrition compounded by inadequate vaccination that may predispose them to preventable diseases. This study was conducted to determine the vaccination and nutritional status of children less than 5 years old in the remote and rural Karawari area of PNG. 105 children were included in the study, of whom 55% were male and 45% female. The mean age of children included in the study was 32.6 months. Their age, height, and weight by gender was not significantly different. Overall, 85% of children had incomplete vaccination. However, children above the median age of 32 months (34%) were more likely to be fully vaccinated for their age, χ2 (1) = 23.294, p < 0.005. In addition, 25% of children were below the -1 SD (Z-scores) for weight-for—height, 33% below the -1 SD for weight-for-age, and 25.5% below the -1 SD for height-for-age compared to WHO standards.
    A large proportion of children had poor nutrition status and lack protection from vaccine preventable diseases. This study recommends that the government should introduce a surveillance system for detecting issues of importance to the rural majority. We also recommend that the PNG government reopen the nearby health centre, and/ or establish new facilities within the region, with adequately trained and compensated staff.

    Dr Louis Samiak (middle back row) was mentored by JCU's Dr Iyke Emeto (standing in front of Louis)

    Relevance of organisational support on academics’ affective commitment and turnover intentions

    Michael Esop


    Purpose: The current study provides an indication as to the motivation of people to remain in academic positions where substantial economic inequity is present and more favourable alternative employment is possible. This is important for the retention of qualified academic staff in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and for the supply of well-educated workers in this developing country.

    Design/methodology/approach: We surveyed 94 National (Indigenous) academic staff at a prominent PNG university for their perceptions of organisational justice and management support, with an aim determining if these variables were related to workers’ affective commitment and intentions to turnover. The surveyed staff members are all employed on an inequitable basis in that their salaries and living conditions are inferior to those of equally qualified expatriate academic staff.

    Findings: The research found that staff members’ emotional connection (affective commitment) to their work was predicted by organisational support, whereas lack of organisational support predicted academic staff turnover.

    Practical implications: Universities must provide supportive environments to enable staff to remain focused and committed in order to maintain high morale and reduce turnover in academic staff. 

    Originality/value: Previous research on this topic has emphasised the economic inequity faced by National academic staff members in PNG’s high education institutions. The current research applies motivation theory to people experiencing this obvious inequity. It finds that an environment where workers experience management support and a sense of intrinsic reward can effectively influence their intention to remain at their place of work as well as their emotional connection to their institution and their students.

    Michael Esop and his JCU mentor, Dr Carolyn Timms

    Get involved


    Research. Innovation. Society.
    Co-hosted by the University of Papua New Guinea and James Cook University
    3-4 December 2019, Port Moresby

    Continuing the success of PNG IMPACT 2017, PNG IMPACT 2019 will:

    • Promote dialogue over how research and research policy can best support aspirations for a prosperous, safe, inclusive and sustainable society.
    • Showcase a cross-selection of active research projects, across the sciences, social sciences and humanities, delivering significant societal benefit for PNG.
    • Provide a platform for network-building among researchers, research institutions and research stakeholders active in PNG.

    PNG IMPACT is for anyone with an interest in the role of research in societal transformation.
    This includes, but it not limited to: policy-makers, donors, philanthropic organisations, business, research leaders, researchers, students, civil society representatives and community members.

    Communities of practice

    The Communities of Practice (Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner, 2015) initiative builds upon the spirit of collaboration that exists across both the UPNG and JCU and between the UPNG and JCU. In 2019, the UPNG through the Centre for Learning, Teaching and Staff Development, is launching two communities of practice and JCU is revitalising its approach to the support and visibility of communities of practice.

    At the UPNG, the two developing communities of practice align with the key objectives of the UPNG-JCU Twinning Project and focus on strengthening research capabilities and enhancing learning and teaching. Similarly, JCU’s Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement directorate is focused on enhancing learning and teaching with four supported communities of practice in: work integrated learning; learning and teaching excellence; technology enhanced learning; and assessment. While the two institutions will operate their communities of practice locally, there will be opportunities for cross-institutional learning and sharing of practice both at the strategic and practice levels.

    To be involved in the communities of practice, please contact Dr Andrea Lynch

    Wenger-Trayner, E., and Wenger-Trayner, B., (2015). Introduction to communities of practice. Retrieved from https://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/


    Enquiries about the Twinning Partnership may be directed to:
    The Project Manager, Dr Jennifer Gabriel at The Cairns Institute on +61 7 4232 1875 or email jennifer.gabriel@jcu.edu.au.

    Enquiries about the PNG Impact Conference may be directed to:
    The Project Officer, Ms Vyvyen Wong on +61 7 4232 1340 or email vyvyen.wong@jcu.edu.au


    © 2019 The Cairns Institute | Site Map | Site by OracleStudio | Design by LeoSchoepflin