Pacific Islands


This case study profiles GULL community applications in Papua New Guinea (PNG) initiated by Entrepreneurial Development Training Centre Ltd (EDTC) and GULL in September, 2009. EDTC is training institution registered under the Investment Promotion Authority and the National Training Council of Papua New Guinea. EDTC also franchises the highly innovative and successful Personal Viability (PV) Training Programme. Launched in 1996, PV provides holistic training and enables participants to develop themselves into valuable human assets in support of their families and communities. The PV-GULL affiliation currently embraces approximately 12,000 people in the Pacific Islands of PNG, the Solomon Islands and in parts of South East Asia. PV’s Patron is Sir Paulias Matane, GULL’s founding Chancellor. | Header photo by: Arthur Chapman




Are you viable? Personal viability: Training for life ...
“If we give you fish, we feed you for one day. If we teach you how to fish, we feed you for life.”

Personal viability training prepares people for life and to play a full role in sustainable economic development by equipping participants with the skills (character and competence) needed to be self-reliant and financially independent. This is a unique approach – especially in developing nations where the short term quest for food, water, money, shelter and other resources tends to be the focus. Donor agencies have historically focused their resources and attention on the development projects – they want to see something tangible in return for the investments made. This approach is unlikely to succeed if the individuals with responsibility for the various development projects have not undergone development themselves beforehand. The Personal Viability programme addresses this need.

Samuel Tam MBE, CSI, OL, Founder of the Personal Viability programme; Chairman of EDTC; Regional President, Pacific Islands, Global University for Lifelong Learning.

PV was developed in PNG by Samuel Tam, and it is now operating in other countries too. Its purpose is to encourage participants to develop thinking skills, good character, rich habits and competence so as to enable them to realize their full potential and contribute more fully to family, community and national economic development.



This Personal Viability (PV) with GULL video was recorded in the Lihir Islands, Papua New Guinea in September, 2012.



1. Personal Viability & GULL, Nov 08
On Wednesday 12 November 2008, the Global University for Lifelong Learning (GULL) & Entrepreneurial Development Training Centre Ltd (EDTC) agreed to work together to provide holistic development via EDTC’s ‘Personal Viability’ (PV) programme and GULL professional certification. This partnership offers an opportunity to obtain a Government recognized university degree at an affordable cost.

Attending: The PV-GULL Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and guests at the launch event held in the State Function Room, National Parliament House, Port Moresby, PNG.

The MOU was witnessed by Sir Paulias Matane, Head of State. Guests included leaders from the Church, The PNG Defence Force, Diplomats and other dignitaries.


Richard Teare, President, GULL
Samuel Tam, Founder, Personal Viability & Chairman, EDTC Ltd.
Sir Paulias Matane, Governor General, PNG, Founding Chancellor, GULL, Patron, PV




2. The Personal Viability process, July 09
Holistic human development and PV

(Right) ‘Are you viable?’ EDTC’s holistic human development training enables participants to develop the confidence, character and competence to be self-reliant and financially independent.

To explain the nature of the challenge, imagine a table with a pile of cash on one side and a machine for printing money on the other side. If offered a choice, those who struggle financially will always choose the cash option – and when the cash has gone, they are back to square one. PV focuses on helping people to use and understand the machine – not merely a cash machine but the human mind. Wealth resides in the human mind – and it is accessible if we learn to use what we have all been given by the Creator.

Dr Samuel Tam explains:

In PV, we focus on how to use key resources more effectively. These are: (1) time and (2) money (the economy discipline). In our view, competence relates to the ability to convert resources into assets – and without these skills, it is difficult to make money. The first account to develop is ‘Goodwill’ which is based on love and talent (‘heart of gold’). The more goodwill you develop, the better the financial prospects will be because it follows the universal law of success (e.g. You reap what you sow, Give to receive ...). Next is ‘Integrity’ in the form of honesty and trust – like goodwill, this is intangible and we define this as ‘words of gold’. You must do what you say you are going to do – otherwise people will not trust you.

The best way to teach people who have not had prior educational and development opportunity is to use and play games. Participants enter PV training (the ‘Game of life’) and the ‘Game of life’ reflects the overarching purpose of PV. It doesn’t matter where you live in the world because these rules apply to everybody. Next we introduce the ‘Game of money’. It is important because most people in the developing world have not been taught how to play this game and they have no idea where the goal posts are – the main reason why they don’t score. Our purpose here is to teach financial literacy – in action. The ‘Game of money’ is man-made, but it is very effective as it operates in a similar way to the ‘Parable of the Talents’ used by Jesus to illustrate good stewardship. To illustrate, we recently finished playing a game of money in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. We gave each team of between 5 and 10 participants 100 Kina and seven days later, one team came back with 1,000 Kina and the other team came back with more than 700 Kina.

After this, participants enter the PV ‘Home School’ stage so that they can prepare a family needs audit and implement a family needs master plan. After creating the master plan, participants implement it by re-playing the game of money over a sustained period of time so as to enable them to attain the necessary financial resources needed to support their family (as appropriate to their own specific family needs). This is a key PV assignment and the Home School is designed to enable participants to implement the PV training principles and attain this goal. It is the action part of the programme that involves the whole family, supported by a PV coach who encourages and supports the participants. The implementation process takes the form of relevant education (like marketing) and building on reflections from taking action and reviewing the outcomes.

The goal of PV is for every participant to purchase their own family house and establish some form of income generating project. To achieve this target, participants must aim to raise a 30 percent deposit (on a house purchase) by playing the ‘game of money’. To illustrate, if the total needed to purchase a house and to establish a family income generating project is 100,000 Kina, the participant must generate a 30 percent deposit (30,000 Kina) and the EDTC team (for PV) will organize a bank loan on behalf of the participant for the balance of the sum needed (70 percent) and assign a PV coach to supervise the participant until the PV loan has been re-paid.

To verify the outcomes of PV, a detailed grading system is used. This reflects four stages of PV learning and attainment. The PV grading system is also interlinked with the professional certificates, diplomas and degrees awarded by GULL.

The first stage is UNCONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE. At this point, most people are unaware that ‘money’ is not the same as ‘wealth’ and although they might be competent in a supply-driven public sector type role, they would not be able to survive in the demand-driven system (industry and commerce). After attending PV, participants reach the next level: CONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE and are introduced to the EDTC PV grading system. In ascending order, it features four levels: Provisional, Bronze, Silver and Gold. The PV EDTC is designed to assist participants to develop their own competence and character to Provisional and Bronze levels using the tools (e.g. house purchase and income generating project) outlined in ‘Implementing PV’.

The development process does not focus on making money per se, but on developing holistic human character and competence. PV’s projects are ‘people’ and, in attaining Silver level, participants reach a third stage: CONSCIOUS COMPETENCE. Some will progress to Gold level when they attain the fourth and final stage: UNCONSCIOUS COMPETENCE. In attaining Gold level, PV participants will have developed rich habits. For example, they are always on time (never late) and they are absolutely consistent and reliable in business and other relationships.


PV: Training for life
PV focuses on the four stages of learning and its participants (people). In contrast, many organizations focus their resources and attention on the projects – they want to see something tangible in return for the investments made. This approach is less likely to succeed because sustainable development is not possible if the individuals with responsibility for the various development projects have not undergone development themselves beforehand.

The answer to sustainable development for third world countries

For sustainable development (people and projects) it is essential that those who are implementing the projects understand and can cope with the pressures of a demand-driven system (DDS). There are four key elements to a demand-driven system. First, it is important to recognize that the customer is the boss. Second, we must do the important things first, not the urgent things. Securing ‘money’ is always the urgent thing – but more important is the character and competence of the individuals who are implementing any given project. Third, the system must reward correct behaviour. Unfortunately, in a supply-driven system, incorrect behaviour is often rewarded and unless this mentality changes, it is not possible to develop character and competence. Finally, every Kina (or US dollar etc.) that is invested, must come back in the form of a return on the investment made.

Find out more abut the personal viability process by watching the case video (6 minutes)

PDF: EDTC Grassroots University of Life



3. PV-GULL, inaugural graduation, Apr, 10

Port Moresby, PNG 17 April 2010
More than 500 people attended the Personal Viability (PV) and Global University for Lifelong Learning (GULL) inaugural graduation events on 17 & 19 April in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In the capital Port Moresby, the keynote address was delivered by Grand Chief Sir Paulias Matane, Head of State. Sir Paulias is also the Founding Chancellor of GULL and the Patron of PV.

Video: Address by Sir Paulias Matane


Lihir Islands, PNG, 19 April 2010
The Lihir Islanders have embraced the PV process so as to enable the community to develop and implement a sustainable economic plan. Some 14,000 Lihir islanders will participate in the PV process, led by Dr Samuel Tam, the PV facilitation team and the Chiefs and Elders of the Lihir Island Clans.

Video: Sam and Richard Teare are welcomed as honorary Chiefs, Masi sub-Clan, Lihir Islands, Papua New Guinea.




4. Grassroots University of Life (GUL)

Inaugural GUL Education Board meeting, 17 April 2011, Honiara, Solomon Islands
A partnership between Entrepreneurial Development Training Centre (EDTC) Ltd and Lihir Sustainable Development Ltd lies behind the creation of an innovative new institution, the Grassroots University of Life (GUL), founded on the principles of Personal Viability and with development pathways certified by the Global University for Lifelong Learning. These institutions also provide the enabling framework for the Papua New Guinea Government’s Vision 2050 national development plan.

(Right) Members of the GUL Education Board: (Left to right) Richard Teare; Alison Hitu; Samuel Tam, Founder, EDTC, Chairman, GUL Education Board and GULL Regional President, Pacific Islands; Samuel Iain Tam; Paul Wiau.

Video: PV-GULL and a rationale for the Grassroots University of Life (GUL)



How can my organization get involved?
Thank you for reading this case study. Do please think about what you can offer and how you might inspire others in your organization to get involved. Together, we can bring hope and opportunity to the many people around the world who do not have access to lifelong learning. GULL works with organizations that share our vision for universal access to learning in the workplace and in the community. If you would like to affiliate with GULL's network movement, please review the 'Affiliation' section at the GULL website - There are no membership fees or other barriers to participation - we'd like to work with you to harness all the skills and abilities that your organization can offer in order to help others to learn, grow and develop. Please note though that GULL does not have the resources to support individual learners and it is for this reason we can only correspond with organizations via their nominated representative(s).


GULL is a not-for-profit foundation registered in California, USA. GULL is recognized by the Government of Papua New Guinea & endorsed by other Governments, Leaders & Institutions.

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