Nothing could stop Paea Kuma, a Tongan teacher, from pursuing his ambition of furthering his education despite financial restraints.
He remained devoted to his goal of obtaining a tertiary qualification from The University of the South Pacific (USP) to further his knowledge as a teacher.
Paea earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Studies from USP in 2006, and he was certain that having a USP degree would enhance his knowledge and help him become a better teacher to his Tongan pupils.
The Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships eventually assisted Paea in 2019, allowing him to study for a postgraduate Diploma at USP.
Paea successfully graduated with a postgraduate Diploma in Development Studies from USP in September 2021 and is thankful for the assistance received.
Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships provide scholars from developing countries in the Pacific with opportunities to study at selected education institutions in the Pacific region.
The purpose of the Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships is to give people the opportunity to gain and build the knowledge and skills to drive positive change and influence their home country’s development.
“The scholarship helped with my tuition and other university fees. Without the scholarship, I would not have been able to further my education, and I’m thankful to the Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships for allowing students from the Pacific opportunities to expand our knowledge and to give back to our communities,” he said.
Paea noted that, because of Australia Awards’ financial assistance, he was able to focus on his studies and thoroughly enjoy his university experience.
“I enjoyed studying at USP because I was able to socialise with different students from diverse cultures. We learned from each other and shared experiences. In addition, USP provided me with a friendly and safe environment to study in with excellent student services. Lecturers were helpful and accessible, and I urge prospective students to choose USP. It is a great university, and you will enjoy studying with students from all over the region,” he said.
Paea believes that his USP postgraduate Diploma qualification has supported his career and professional growth.
“It has assisted me not only as a teacher but also in contributing to development discourse back home and opened the doors for different job opportunities.”
His advice to students who may find it challenging to attain their tertiary qualification is to “keep trying and not give up”.
Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships are currently offered at Pacific tertiary institutions in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, and Wallis and Futuna.
You can learn more about Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships here https://www.dfat.gov.au/people-to-people/australia-awards/australia-awards-pacific-scholarships-aaps