Continuous threats force Notre Dame Secondary School to close its doors

National, Normal

AT least 700 female students at the Notre Dame Secondary School in Western Highlands province will not be attending classes for an indefinite period.
The school was closed by archbishop Douglas Young of Mt Hagen archdiocese and head of the church’s education agency.
The school recently was upgraded by AusAID.
Archbishop Young said: “It was truly heart breaking to have to tell those 700 young women that their education would be interrupted indefinitely due to unreasonable demands from a small group.”
A statement from archbishop Young stated that both the staff and students were saddened by the news and other community leaders were also discouraged.   
The diocese received a letter from Peter Sent and Joe Tep allegedly threatening to shut down the pump supplying water from a water well located on school land unless the agency paid K500,000 in compensation for the use of water.
He said despite many attempts to explain the laws on water use, especially that the school had paid its licence fees for operating a private water supply and sewerage system, the demands and threats continued.
At a meeting of local leaders, the archbishop and provincial education adviser Hans Gima last Friday, Mr Sent and Mr Tep repeated their threat.
“The threat had been backed up in recent days by the presence of young men with bush knives walking through the campus intimidating students.
“If the pump was damaged it was very unlikely that the perpetrators would pay for repair, as similar attacks on school property in the past had never been compensated. In this atmosphere it was impossible for the school to continues.” 
The school will remain closed until such time the threats end.