PARENTS will have to dig deep to pay for their children’s school fees next year despite hardship being faced in communities throughout the country.
The PNG LNG project and other factors had caused a steep rise in inflation, and a report commissioned by the government indicated many parents would struggle to pay their children’s school fees next year.
The government had been warned that an El Nino-induced drought, expected next year, could wreak economic havoc in the country, driving most families into poverty.
But, despite these reports, the government has decided not to lower school fees for next year but maintain it at the same level as this year. National education board (NEB) chairman and acting Education secretary Dr Joseph Pagelio announced yesterday that the board had recommended the maximum school fee limits for next year be the same as this year for all institutions.
He said NEB had made the decision based on the outcomes of the “parental school fees affordability study” last year, which ascertained various hardships parents were experiencing and were living beyond their means.
Pagelio said the study’s findings had revealed that the income earned by parents was far less than their expenditures.
He said families in the rural areas were struggling because there were no basic government services provided, coupled with additional community problems and commitments throughout the year.
The report contrasted sharply with a national government’s claim that the K14 million provided to each open MP in the last three years had brought changes and improvement to villages and communities throughout the country.
School fees for next year were elementary K100; primary Grades 3-6 K230; primary Grades 7-8 K230; secondary/vocational Grades 7-10 K750 (day) and K1,100 (boarding); secondary/national high schools Grades 11-12 K800 (day) and K1,300 (boarding).
Fees for teachers, technical and business colleges will remain the same.
Pagelio said school administrations, parents and the school communities needed to realise that times were difficult and schools also needed finance to operate at the required standard.
“The NEB maximum fee is an estimate of the average amount per student that each institution needs to budget in order to stay open for the full school year.”
He reiterated that the cost of education was a shared responsibility between parents and guardians, school governing bodies, education agencies and provincial and national governments.
“To ensure schools operate effectively, parents are encouraged to start making arrangements to pay fees by the time schools start next year.”
Elementary schools had been charging fees this year despite clear direction from the ministry of education for free elementary education.
“The school administrations are now required to reimburse parents before this academic year ends,” the acting secretary said.