The ruling PNC has disseminated a lot of information about its policies, one of which is for free education implemented since 2012.
Like any other government policy, this free education policy has it weaknesses too.
Recently, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said he planned to make it into a government only and not just a PNC policy so that it could be continued.
Opposition leader Don Polye has countered with a “compulsory and subsidised” education policy which he said would be implemented if his team is elected in the coming general election.
One of the key points of his policy is that it would be illegal for parents not to send their children to school.
Second, parents must pay fees from elementary to Grade 12.
Thereafter, for technical colleges and universities, the government will be responsible.
O’Neill charged the opposition with developing reckless policies that could only set the country back, reverse development and undermine economic growth.
“This is the most reckless opposition campaign to be seen in elections for a long time,” he said.
“Under our government, it does not matter if a family is rich or poor, urban or rural, we will make sure all of their children are able to attend school.”
Let us look at the two sides’ education policy alone.
Under PNC’s policy, there would be more children going to school because it is free although with some colleges, there are still some fees imposed.
This is likely to see an increase in dropouts who will join the already large number of unemployed.
THE Party’s policy will put pressure on poor parents to firstly send their children to school and pay the fees, or be jailed.
This is a tough policy but in the long term it will benefit the country as it will produce a literate population.
In conclusion, both policies have their own negative and positive implications.
And in truth, nothing is free.
The government is using taxes paid by people to subsidise the cost of education.
This confused phrase of “free education” was introduced by the PDM party which led two governments (Paias Wingti and Sir Mekere Mourata).
The policy was fully implemented during Sir Mekere’s term as prime minister in 2000.
Peter Kinjap, Via email