Non-Payment of Tuition Fees | "Anyone who gets in the way of the delivery of free education will be moved aside..."PNG PM.


THE GOVERNMENT IS PAYING K300 SCHOOL FEE PER CHILD AND EXPECTS SCHOOLS TO CONTINUE TILL ACADEMIC YEAR ENDS?

It is good to see PNG government is responding quickly to the news about schools closure. However, there are certain facts and figures we, as stakeholders, need to bear in mind.

1) The government allocated K605 million to fund Tuition Fee Free education policy. With this funding, schools were directed by both education minister and secretary for National Department of Education not to charge any other fees like the project fees.

2) K605 million has been paid in two instalments: first component (K302.5) for terms one and two, and second K302.5 million for terms three and four. This is supposed to be paid with no strings attached.

3) Reports have indicated that only 70% (K211.75 million) of the first component was paid to receiving schools. The remaining 30% (K90.75 million) was now released to schools according to the Post Courier report below. Why is it released now, when some schools have closed early for term one holiday due to lack of funds? Who is the government blaming? Would schools have closed prematurely if the government released the first component in full?

4) Perhaps this is an important question: 'Are we likely to see schools closing before the end of term two?' I think yes because 70% the first component was not enough to take many schools through to the end of term one. Remaining 30% paid recently was just a drop in the ocean to complete term 2, not sufficient for a term. 

5) All in the good name of the government, this K605 million was not enough. With a national school population of 1.9 million students, the government has planned to pay about K300 school fee per child (that was for the whole year) and expected the schools to continue without closure. 

The PM, Education Minister and NDoE secretary can go dancing to the tune of K605 million for free education, but it trickles down to nothing when you have a students' population near 2 million.  

It was clear that the investigation into any allegation of abuse of TFF funds, commissioned  and talked about by the Chief Secretary of Government, would have to be withdrawn as it  was unlikely to fix the problem. It would only uncover the weak areas and threw mud at the government. 

If the government wants to see smooth flow of academic year, it must either double the TFF subsidy or allow for parents to pay half the school fees and project fees.

It is, also, time to stop the Education Minister and his department secretary from meddling with the affairs of provincial education authorities or school board of management. Let the school BoGs, principals and PEAs do their jobs as they have done before the introduction of TFF (free) education policy.


BY ISAAC NICHOLAS

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has directed that all outstanding school fee subsidies be made direct to individual schools by this week.

He said to facilitate these payments, K90 million was drawn down last Friday to pay the remainder of tuition fee free funding for the first two terms of the current school year.

Mr O’Neill outlined this plan of action that was being delivered alongside the investigation commissioned by Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc that was seeking answers to the possibility of misappropriation of school fees.

He said the investigation included where the unaccounted funds had gone, but of greater urgency the commission would provide details of schools that had been cut short of funds so that they could be paid direct by the Government this week.

"The delivery of tuition free education is a cornerstone policy of our Government and we will not let this be interrupted by incompetence or mismanagement," he said.

"We promised the people of this nation that we would get their children into school and this is what we are doing.

"Anyone who gets in the way of the delivery of free education will be moved aside and we will deliver these school fees for our families.

"I have directed that all schools still awaiting their school fee subsidy will receive this money direct from the Government this week. There is no reason for any school not to open for the new school term.

"Education is a right for all children of Papua New Guinea and our Government will continue to implement reform to ensure our children can attend school regardless of their economic situation."

He said the list of schools that had not received their full funding was being finalised and outstanding money would be released direct to schools in the coming days.

He was responding to reports last week that 13,000 public schools will close in term two due to non-payment of free tuition fee subsidy.

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