By ANDREW ALPHONSE in MENDI
IMBONGGU MP Francis Awesa wants the Southern Highlands provincial education board (PEB) to take disciplinary action against teachers who play truant while on full pay.
“My priority projects are education and human resources development but teachers, who are not giving their full attention to teaching, are thwarting my efforts,” he said in a special provincial assembly meeting in Mendi on Wednesday to table the province’s K275 million budget.
He said the performance of Southern Highlands students had been poor and standards were on the decline in the past 10 years compared with other provinces.
“Unlike the previous decade, fewer and fewer Southern Highlands students are entering tertiary institutions.
“The fault lies with teachers, who abandon classes, to wander off to Port Moresby and Mt Hagen.
“The PEB must crack down on such teachers and take action, like striking them out of the payroll.”
He said some teachers were even working for the PNG LNG project while at the same time on the Education payroll.
“To track down the problematic teachers, I have made available a vehicle for school inspectors or standards officers to conduct regular visits to the 30 schools in my electorate,” he added.
Governor Anderson Agiru supported Mr Awesa’s concerns, adding that the standard of education in the province was falling due to teachers getting paid for not teaching.
Mr Agiru said if Southern Highlands were to change, it had to start with education and urged teachers to be committed to their profession while the provincial government did its part by building classrooms, dormitories, teachers’ houses, installation of computers and other infrastructural development.
He said the education and upbringing of a child must be a shared responsibility by teachers, parents and the provincial government.
“Teachers must be committed to teaching the children while the government builds the infrastructure for a conducive teaching and learning environment.
“Parents must also do their bit in paying school fees,” Mr Agiru said.
Education Minister James Marape and provincial education adviser Robert Rami were at the meeting and took note of Mr Awesa’s comments.