All is not well as new school year starts


THE 2019 academic year started with a whole lot of disruptions and controversy but what is new, people may ask.
February is usually when schools get down to business again and open the chequebooks and make the first entries in the receipt books.
However, not all schools have the kind of money to begin the year well.
Apart from schools the public service offices are opening, the legal year is opening, the military and other agents of justice and the rule of law begin the year after shaking of the holiday mood of December-January.
This year, like past years when the National Government’s Tuition Fee-Free (TFF) education policy have been in place, the Department and Ministry of Education have yet again warned schools against charging tuition or project fees of any kind.
The message is very clear, yet some schools have gone ahead to charge and collect fees.
As we have reported earlier this week, already a number of school heads have been suspended by the department for reportedly charging students some kind of fees.
Education Minister Nick Kuman is reportedly disappointed with school principals and boards who are defying the directive not to charge students any fees.
He issued the statement as eight school principals are suspended for charging fees.
The schools include eight in the National Capital District, among them a couple who were ranked among the 10 in last year’s year 10 and 12 examinations.
Obviously many more schools throughout the country that are defying government instructions to not charge any fees and turn away those students who do not pay on registration day.
Minister Kuman says K97 million has already paid to school accounts last Monday and soon another K50 million will be paid.
Boarding schools, especially, need money to start operating to cater for not only curriculum materials but also food and utilities for students.
In such cases, allowances could be made but with school administrations to have whatever fees collected from parents reimbursed when the TFF hits their accounts.
The arrangement sounds reasonable but the minister said in some cases that had never happened.
We only have to ask school heads why that is the case. Sometimes there are quite genuine reasons, like the late arrival of government funding which means the schools need to hold on to use all they have collected.
The suspension of eight school principals is intended to be a warning to others not to charge fees when there is already money allocated for school operations.
While that is an issue faced by nearly all provinces, the beginning of the school year was even worse for Madang and Western Highlands.
In Madang, roughly 700 teachers employed by the Teaching Service Commission have refused to start work unless the provincial government gives an assurance to pay them outstanding leave fares.
The strike is already into its third week.
It is understood the provincial government will be able to pay the outstanding fares under its budget it passed this week.
In Western Highlands, the Catholic Church, which happens to control a large number of the province’s schools, is up in arms against the provincial education board over teacher postings.
This is not the first time this is happening.
The church, through Archbishop Douglas Young, has made it clear to the provincial appointment office that it will make its own appointments for endorsement only by the provincial education office.
However, this seems to have fallen on deaf years.
Again this year, the church has not accepted the appointment of teachers for its schools throughout Western Highlands and Jiwaka, since the Catholic Archdiocese of Mt Hagen covers both provinces.
Problems arising from teacher appointments, leave fares and TFF funding and therefore schools charging “project fees” have been going on for years.
Yet those in positions of authority have, for some reason, been unable to get things right.

One thought on “All is not well as new school year starts

  • All school in and around the country has been talking about bring children up to the education level and standard today the modern world and the ,responsibility is shareable either by parents and the school administration for that matter weather in community school or High school, collage university.
    This will embarrass there survival and well being of our children.

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