The National, Wednesday October 9th, 2013
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill and his cabinet have been asked to extend the benefits of tuition subsidy fee and higher education scholarships to all Papua New Guineans at all levels of the education system.
Deputy opposition leader Sam Basil said the education subsidy scheme, introduced in 2011 and rolled out throughout the country, had removed some burdens from rural parents and those who could not afford to pay the fees.
“Particularly from the rural area, certain parents are still affected, especially those who have children in permitted schools such as the Christian Academy schools, Kopkop College, international schools and IEA-affiliated schools,” Basil said.
“The parents have sought spaces in these schools as well as quality of education or ensure children get Christian education.”
“The subsidy, as those parents and school administrators will confirm, is negligible as annual fees at these schools range from K5,000 to K20,000 per annum.
“While burdens are being mitigated on the majority of our people, certain parents are struggling.
“I am not asking for full or 75% subsidy but at least 30%-50% so all our people, including these children, who will contribute to PNG. This should be for citizens only and registered in schools registered under the Education Act.”
Basil said in the technical, business studies and higher education sector, higher education contribution assistance scheme (HECAS) should be extended to church-run colleges that trained carpenters, mechanics, teachers and religious workers like pastors and counsellors.
He said after graduation they would still work in PNG either in churches, NGOs or private and public sectors.
He said persons who study theology or philosophy served the state as chaplains or counsellors in the disciplinary forces, universities, hospitals and schools.
“In rural areas, the pastors and church lay workers or church teachers become agent of state as in providing contact with government officers, counselling and mediate in local disputes and maintain peace in communities,” Basil said.
“The government must ensure all citizens are covered as they are the human resources of this country.”