2014 Leave Fare Woes | Former Education Minister Blames Department, Current Minister Blames Teachers - The Solution

Commentary

James Marape (former Education Minister) sympathized with teachers and  blamed the Education Department for failing to workout leave entitlements for teachers on time. He is the Treasury minister and admitted to availability of money - so money is not why teachers have not received their leave fares.  

Nick Kuman, the Education Minister, said teachers and Provincial Education Authority were at fault. Teachers are confused and or ignorant for not submitting their leave application before April. He also lashed out at provincial education officials for not facilitating submission of leave entitlements.

Obviously, the two ministers are playing cheap politics by passing the buck from National Department of Education to PEA and teachers. Are teachers confused and ignorant? Is NDoE  not doing its part? Is  the problem with Provincial Education Authority?

It is ominous politicians are politicians not educationists - they get 5 times as much as teachers. They do not live a teacher's lifestyle and they do not experience a teacher's pain at the end of the year.

They should talk about giving to the hard working teachers what they deserve. They shouldn't play politics with them. James Marape knows well. This is a problem that occurs year on year.

If I was the Education Minister, I would have summoned the Education Secretary, PNGTA president, all (22) Provincial Education Advisers and provincial education officials responsible for dealing with teachers leave entitlements to a round table discussion, and sort this MESS out - once and for all. Sadly, a simple teacher is not a 'talking'  Education Minister.

Over to your, Mr Minister. Stop the blame game. Do the right thing. Until then, the teachers will have to hope that this year ends well. 

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POST COURIER Reports (05 & 06/01/2015)


By NELLIE SETEPANO

EDUCATION Minister Nick Kuman says the issue of leave fares for teachers was caused by mismanagement from the provinces concerned, which is affecting teachers.

He said the Education Department cannot be blamed for not paying teachers leave fares.

"The department does not keep monies for leave fares and leave entitlements," Mr Kuman said.

He said there are some provinces that have not got it right while others have.

The minister explained to the Post-Courier yesterday that since certain government functions were decentralised, provinces now take the responsibility to take care of their own teachers.

The Education Department is responsible for the national functions of schools of excellence, vocational schools and teachers colleges.

The minister emphasised clearly that every teacher eligible for a six week leave (after two years) should apply for leave a year earlier and before the month of April.

This is so that their leave fares and entitlements are catered in a budget for each year.

"I have directed the Education Department to remind teachers of that directive," the minister said.

Mr Kuman said teachers are the last people who should be confused about this directive.

"Educated people such as teachers know about this directive and should not be ignorant," the minister said.

Mr Kuman said some provinces such as Morobe, which have a very large number of teachers, must be managed well by the provincial education authorities and treasury office. Teacher leave fares have been a chronic issues for years but is slowly been addressed by provinces.

Still some provinces fail teachers but the minister said authorities are in current dialogue to address this issue.

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Former Education Minister James Marape's Statement

THE Education Department should process teachers leave entitlements before the end of an academic year and allow for them to go for holidays on time.

This should be done before December, but when Government books are closed Education department cheques are not recognised by the banks.

Finance Minister James Marape raised this concern in a media conference at his Vulupindi office in Port Moresby yesterday.

"We are a Government and we have money all the time to run this country. The delay in teachers leave entitlements is not the Government’s fault nor is it a cash-flow problem in the system as claimed by the Opposition.

"It is caused by the Education Department, which failed to workout teachers entitlements prior to the close of accounts."

He says what happens is when Government accounts are closed in mid December all funds of Government held by state agencies and departments are pulled back into the Department of Finance for the accounts to be tied up therefore obviously there was no money in the education department when the cheques were drawn.

He says, instructions were issued to all agencies and departments to go to finance if they needed to make some emergency payments based on the main 2014 budget and the 2014 supplementary budget as it was the only department in operation during the close of business but the education department failed to follow the instructions.

"It has been a problem for a long time so the education department and other concerned departments and agencies should put their heads together and come up with a system which will work better," he stressed.

"As the former education minister I sympathise with all the teachers out there for the delay and I’m sure the current Education Minister Nick Kuman will get his staff to liaise with concerned agencies and come up with a solution," he said

"We have a whole year to work on the teachers entitlements, you don’t come on December 25 crying for leave pay, teachers should be already in their villages celebrating holidays by then," he said


Meanwhile, Mr Marape says he will issue the first warrant for 2015 next week Monday to officially open government business for the year.