The National – Monday, December 20, 2010
By GABRIEL FITO
PASSAM National High School in East Sepik will not reopen next year until landowners’ demand of K5 million for the school land is met, landowners said last Friday.
It did not augur well for the national education board which announced earlier last week that classes at another national high school, Kerevat in East New Britain, would be suspended next year on health grounds.
A spokesman for Passam’s 14 clans, John Fakiwi, said his people were angry at being given the runaround by authorities, warning parents not to send their children there next year because tension was high.
The school’s governing council chairman Leo Kabilo had thrown his support behind the landowners for the school’s closure and both the land issue and on health grounds.
Last month, the government offered the clans K31,650 for the school land after they closed the school but this was rejected outright, saying it was too low for the 61ha institution.
Fakiwi said the school was closed as of last Friday and would remain closed when the academic year begins in February, unless their K5 million demand was met.
The governing council wanted the school infrastructure upgraded or new buildings put up to make it more conducive to learning and met health criteria.
Kabilo, a one-time provincial police commander in the province, said the Education Department should be blamed for ignoring pleas for improvement to learning facilities while the Lands Department should shoulder equal blame for ignoring the people’s demand for fair compensation for their land.
He was adamant that even if the compensation demand was met, the council would keep the school closed until it was fit for human habitation.
In the case of Kerevat, classes would be suspended for maintenance work on the sewerage system, the main cause for concern and other facilities which have deteriorated.
There are no Grade 11 students there this year, only Grade 12 and they would be the last lot of students.
Acting Education Secretary Dr Joseph Pagelio said that two classes of students from East New Britain, who would have attended Kerevat next year to do Grade 11, would be taken in by Maltech Secondary School.
Pagelio said Keravat would resume classes in 2012 as a school of excellence.