These are the voices of our youth. They seethat PNG has not fulfilled the promise of the National Goals, created in 1974 after a team of men and women travelled the length and breadth of PNG to find out what values and aspirations would best guide the newly independent country.
We declare our first goal to be for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others.
2. Equality and participation
We declare our second goal to be for all citizens to have an equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, the development of our country.
3. National sovereignty and self-reliance
We declare our third goal to be for Papua New Guinea to be politically and economically independent, and our economy basically self-reliant.
4. Natural resources and environment
We declare our fourth goal to be for Papua New Guinea’s natural resources and environment to be conserved and used for the collective benefit of us all, and be replenished for the benefit of future generations.
5. Papua New Guinean ways
We declare our fifth goal to be to achieve development primarily through the use of Papua New Guinean forms of social, political and economic organization.
The students who entered our essay competition see that our National Goals are just as important now as they were in 1975. Maybe even more important, with PNG under increasing pressure from outside influences and powers trying to make our nation dependent.
Dependent on foreign countries for bank loans, for aid. Dependent on foreign companies for wealth generation, in the form of mining, logging, fishing, oil palm and other projects that destroy our natural resources, and rob people of their customary land and the ability to make money for themselves. Dependent on foreign, processed food and soft drink, rather than enjoying our own healthy organic food.
These students, the voices of our future, believe our five goals still provide the roadmap for a TRULY independent Papua New Guinea. The goals tell us we already have the answers to our problems – we don’t need to be holding out our hands, asking for someone else to save us. The answer is believing in our strengths. We don’t need to be saved, the goals tell us, because we are already rich and strong. Perhaps we have lost sight of our strengths as a people.
As individuals, it is up to us to try to enact these goals by living them through our actions, in our own communities, and by pressuring our government and elected representatives to do more to realise them. Start today.