Dregerhafen works on despite dispute

National, Normal

The National – Friday, February 11, 2011

DESPITE the bickering going on in Morobe regarding whether or not there should be a new principal at the Dregerhafen Secondary School, work on two new classrooms and teachers’ houses are already underway.
The matter was so intense that Education Minister James Marape and acting department secretary Dr Joseph Pagelio had to divert their flight back to Lae from Pindiu station on Tuesday and travel via Gagidu station, where the school is located, to see first hand what was happening there.  
A total of K2.3 million in RESI funds was approved for the school last year for maintenance and building of new classrooms, teachers’ houses and dormitories. 
Work is currently underway on the elevation of two classrooms to convert them into two-storey classrooms, nine teachers’ houses and a girls’ dormitory.
The provincial education board (PEB) was concerned that the iconic school, which taught many of the country’s first political and state leaders, had not performed well academically in the last five years and consequently deemed that the principal should be replaced.
The PEB, which is chaired by provincial administrator Kemasang Tomala, had appointed the school’s deputy principal Bruce Nalau as principal.
The board also said there had been no proper recording of disbursement of school funds and auditors, who went to the school on several occasions to check, said the principal left the school on those occasions to travel to Lae.
The school board, however, under the chairmanship of Sir Jerry Nalau, insisted that the current principal be allowed to remain and complete the projects and once those are completed, he would be replaced if PEB insisted.
Sir Jerry also said they were also able to stretch the K2.3 million allocated to the school for new buildings because they have contracted local villagers and contractors and were able to build more.
Villagers and those who have been contracted to construct the new school buildings have threatened to disrupt classes this year if changes were made to the school’s current head.