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USP highlights importance of ICTs towards building resilient universities

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Dr Giulio Paunga, Vice-President Regional Campuses and Estates and Infrastructure during his presentation.

It is essential that the role of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is recognised for better recovery from natural disasters to build resilient universities.

This was recommended by Dr Giulio Paunga, Vice-President, Regional Campuses and Estates and Infrastructure of The University of the South Pacific (USP) during the 20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers Meeting on 20 February 2018.

Universities from across the Commonwealth have been severely affected by natural disasters in recent years.

Dr Paunga was part of a panel session at the Higher Education Forum, which drew on the experiences of Commonwealth Universities to address lessons that could be drawn from their recovery efforts; role of international partnerships; and the contribution of universities towards more resilient societies.

Some of the important roles of ICT, as stated by Dr Paunga include; supporting the Business Continuity Model (BCM); supporting regional disaster resilience for USP and regional governments, as demonstrated through Tropical Cyclone Pam in 2014 and Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016; creating ICT hub within the region to back-up communication medium for countries; and supporting resilience learning pedagogies that make use of Open Educational Resources (OER).

He added that investment in USP Virtual Classroom capacities makes teaching and learning more resilient and deliverable in the region, which is supported by state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure at USP.

He highlighted some of USP’s resilience efforts towards natural disasters and noted that in 2016, the University’s Disaster Management Policy and Plan established a unified framework of disaster preparedness, response and recovery in all of its fourteen (14) Campuses.

Dr Paunga further mentioned that Coastal campuses in Laucala, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Tokelau now incorporate tsunami Early Warning Systems, evacuation routes and assembly areas.

“USP promotes Institutional Safety Culture enhancing academic excellence and performance at all levels,” Dr Paunga said.

Furthermore, the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) has developed new tools and processes to assess community’s vulnerability and support science-informed decision making for building resilience and capacities.

Its Postgraduate Programmes on climate change trains students to lead resilience building actions in their country. The Pacific Technical and Further Education’s (Pacific TAFE) skills-based programmes on Resilience train students to implement these actions.

He further recommended that a Commonwealth University network of support for disaster resilience needs to be established which will build on the foundation of the University Consortium of Small Islands States (UCSIS) and the Pacific Islands University Research Network (PIURN).

“A partnership network with other Universities and Research Institutions in Commonwealth Countries could improve University resilience and its ability to enhances adaptation capacities,” Dr Paunga stated.

Talking about the University’s preparedness towards Tropical Cyclone Gita, that recently hit some of its member countries, Dr Paunga said that the Campuses in Samoa and Tonga were well-prepared and necessary response procedures were in place.

The Tonga Campus, he noted is open despite electricity outage and intermittent communication between Campuses.

“The students are attending face-to-face classes, and we are hoping that electricity will be restored soon,” Dr Paunga said.



This news item was published on 22 Feb 2018 03:01:49 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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