Govt must clear air on free education

Letters, Normal

The National, Wednesday 15th Febuary 2012

THE government must clear the confusion on its free education po­licy.
Schools are still charging fees but under different names such as project fees, bond fees, etc.
The fees most schools are charging  amount to about the same that pa­rents paid previously.
How can the government say education is free for all Papua New Guineans when schools and their respective boards continue to charge other fees when parents are not expected to pay anything?
If the government is not careful, this policy could backfire in the coming election as many people feel they have been cheated.
The government must ensure that all schools comply with its free education policy and admit students starting from elementary to high school for free.
If parents have to pay, the government must specify a standard amount for different categories of schools and set necessary guidelines.
This is necessary to stop principals, headmasters, teachers in charge and the boards of respective schools from imposing their own fees.
Many parents are frustrated to find out that schools are still charging fees for other purposes when students should have been admitted free.
One parent was heard saying how stupid the government was by not factoring in other fees in the budget for free education.
The complaint has some merits because the government needs to specify what it is paying for. 
For example, how much money is budgeted for recurrent cost, maintenance and other operational costs?
The board and school management should not under any circumstance be allowed to impose any fees when the government has yet to clear the air.
If the schools management and board continue to charge fees, then the free education policy is as good as dead.
With the election around the corner, it would be wise for the Education Department to work closely with the chief secretary to address this issue as soon as possible.

Samson Wena
Kerowagi, Chimbu