Morobe teachers dispute holiday travel arrangement

Lae News, Normal

TEACHERS in Morobe province have petitioned the provincial education board to reconsider their end-of-year travel arrangement.
The petition, signed by 153 teachers, challenges circular 05/09 by the PEB that stated that teachers going to the Highlands and Madang provinces would be travellng by bus and those going to the NGI and Sepik provinces will be traveling by boat.
Teachers going to Central, Western, Gulf and some remote parts of Morobe province would be travelling by air.
The circular cites the Teachers Services Act section 130 as giving authority to the circular. It says:  “The cost of fares under this section shall not exceed the net amount that would be necessarily incurred by a member in travelling by the most direct route and by the most economic means of public transport.”
The directive had not been received well.
“We totally condemn the arrangement to have teachers travel by the cheapest means to their homes.”
The teachers described this as “degrading and demeaning” to their status as the “lowest paid public servants”.
The petition also argued that the travel arrangement did not take into consideration teachers whose villages were not serviced by the shipping routes of Lutheran Shipping and Rabaul Shipping and the security risk of travelling on the highway during Christmas.
Papua New Guinea Teachers Association’s (PNGTA) Momase secretary, Mathew Pobaya, said that PNGTA fully supported the petition by the teachers because he had been informed by the Morobe division of education that there was K2 million set aside for this year’s teachers leave fare.
He said the money should be used to send teachers home in the safest route possible.
“Teachers are not plantation labourers, they are professionals and we should respect them,” he said.