The University of the South Pacific (USP), in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resources Team (SPC RRRT) has launched a new Diploma in Leadership, Governance and Human Rights.

Thursday 21 February 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji - ‘The road to this launch has been a long one. RRRT started the paralegal training in 1997 and only now is all of that work, knowledge, and skills finally embedded in a programme run by the premier educational institution in the region so that everyone can have access to it. Providing these resources to the region is a big achievement on the part of both the University of the South Pacific and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community,’ said Sandra Bernklau, Manager of the SPC RRRT Programme.

Coordinator of the diploma at USP, Natasha Khan, said the new diploma fills a gap in the market. While institutions in Australia and New Zealand offer programmes on these issues, and USP has postgraduate studies on governance, there have been no programmes at USP for people interested in leadership and human rights issues, particularly at the undergraduate level. ‘One hundred and fourteen students from around the Pacific have enrolled for the diploma’s first intake this semester, and they will be able to study from their own countries as well as at USP’s main campus in Suva,’ says Khan.

Speaking at the launch, Professor Vijay Naidu, Head of the School of Government, Development and International Affairs at USP, said that this new diploma is a much-needed and a useful qualification for a range of people in the Pacific, including the police and people working in legal systems, communities, civil society and faith based organisations, as well as in movements for the rights of women and other marginalised groups.

The new diploma aims to respond to the learning needs of people in the Pacific and it can be studied full-time or part-time, with scholarships available. It is delivered using a distance education framework that does not rely on access to the internet and so is available to anyone. It is a recognised tertiary qualification that provides a sound understanding of the principles of effective leadership and good governance.

The development of the course was made possible with the generous support of AusAID through the Pacific Leadership Programme and the Australian Volunteers International Programme.