Elementary fees still stand

National, Normal


THE National Education Board has sent out a circular that elementary schools will still charge fees despite the launch of the Universal Basic Education Plan (UBE) by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare last November.
The UBE envisaged free elementary education nationwide.
A member of the Western Highlands provincial education board confirmed receiving the circular yesterday.
Asked about the free elementary education feature in the UBE, he said: “That’s politics.”
“Contact acting provincial education board chairman Malcolm Culligan, who is also the provincial administrator, for further comments,” he said.
But when The National called Mr Culligan yesterday afternoon, he said he was chairing a provincial management team meeting and hung up.
Veronica Paul, a mother of a Grade Two student in Tarangau Zion Elementary School in Mt Hagen city, expressed concern over why the school was charging K150 school fees this year.
“The school is charging K50 for school uniforms and K100 for school fees despite an announcement by the Education Minister James Marape over a radio talk-back show on Monday.
“The announcement was also in the two daily newspapers that there would be no school fees for elementary students nationwide from this year for the next 10 years.
“Parents are confused. Their children are being sent home for not paying fees,” she said, demanding an explanation from the provincial education authority.
Mrs Paul said public servants must be seen carrying out the directive and policy of the Government and not working against it.
“The school subsidy for this year is already released. Why are elementary schools still charging fees? Whose interests are these schools serving?”
She said schools must not be run like a business entity of a few individuals people but adhere to the Government’s policy.