The National – Wednesday, February 9, 2011
By ELLEN TIAMU
The 2011 academic year was launched at Pindiu Technical School in Morobe by Education Minister James Marape on Monday in one of the biggest occasions the sleepy township has ever witnessed.
Marape declared the school year open for 1.5 million students and pupils attending learning institutions throughout the country.
He however, bemoaned the fact that for the 1.5 million attending elementary, primary, secondary, colleges, technical and vocational schools and universities, one million children could not get an education because there were not enough spaces in schools, training institutions and universities.
The government allocated a substantial portion of the national budget this year to education indicating its drive and dedication to an educated population.
Marape also announced that the government’s proposed school of excellence where the country’s top 1% of academically-inclined students would receive government scholarships to study overseas would begin next year.
The Education Department envisages that by 2015, each district in the country should have a community college.
Marape also pledged K3 million in funding for the Pindiu Technical School.
Monday was the first day of classes but schools in most parts of the country, mainly rural areas, had yet to resume for varying reasons.
Marape also declared that elementary education this year would again be subsidised by the government as was last year with Pindiu Primary the first school to receive its cheque for free elementary education.
The minister also called for elementary school teachers to upgrade their educational qualifications so they could be better remunerated.
Three to four elementary schools, he said, should be feeding one primary school.
The Australian government this year has boosted the school fee subsidy and free elementary education with an injection of K170 million.
Marape urged education planners not to think about building new primary schools but look at the possibility of upgrading and beefing up existing ones.
He appealed to all teachers to return to their schools and urged them to be good role models for students, further adding that students should not dabble in drugs, alcohol or cigarette.
Marape said two reasons the department brought the launch of the national academic year to Morobe after Mendi (2009) and NCD (2010), were for officers from the department at Waigani office who plan policies and advise to have a feel of how teachers lived in remote and inaccessible areas of the country so that they could make policies that were applicable and sympathetic towards the hundreds of rural teachers.
The other reason was in recognition of Morobean politicians and bureaucrats’ staunch push for education to be a priority in the province.
Local leaders from the area, former and current, were also on hand to welcome the minister and his delegation welcome during their four-day stay at the sub-district station.