By PISAI GUMAR
IT is 26 years since the Aronai Primary School in Umboi Island, Tewae-Siassi, Morobe, was established but pupils keep using a bamboo pole to raise the national flag, to sing the anthem and pledge to pay homage to the country each morning.
There is still that desperation for classrooms, teachers, teachers’ accommodation, teaching materials, library books and clean water and sanitation.
The school environment remains gloomy although the sea is 500m to 800m from the school ground.
The school has four-in-one thatched-roof classroom built from bush materials and caters for 25 students per classroom.
Pupils use locally built desks that sit on the earthen floor. A few desks were bought from somewhere else.
Robin Boas is the headteacher and his wife Naomi is a senior teacher. They and their two children were accommodated in an incomplete permanent house.
The other two semi-permanent teachers’ houses remain incomplete.
The teachers walk 500-600m to a creek to fetch water for cooking and drinking.
“The school and students need a library and reading books that can bring a flicker of hope,” Boas said.
The head teacher’s office is in an old, incomplete brown building, the school’s administration hub has no door, table or chairs.
Communication services are non-existent and it takes the Boas between six and eight hours of walking to get to Lablab Station to access the signal from the Digicel tower.
The school caters for students from Aronai Islet and Manging and the nearby villages.
The boat fare is K150 per person per trip and K3000 to hire a motorised dinghy to and from Lae via Finschhafen.
This year the first quarter subsidy was K6000 which Boas used for basic school needs. In the second quarter only K1000 was given.
“What do you expect me to spend this K1000 for instead this amount is only fit to spare for a two ways fare to and from Lae,” Boas said.
The mismanagement of school subsidies and parental project components by past boards and school administrations have forced many students to stay home.
Provincial education adviser Keith Jiram said schools in Siassi Island were in disadvantaged areas because district school administrators live in Lae.
“It is the reality and fact you have witnessed because all district education officers live in Lae and that makes the situation worse in terms of reporting and logistics.”
By PISAI GUMAR