By EVAH BANIGE
THE education of students attending the Dregerhafen Technical Secondary School in Finschhafen, Morobe Province is at stake.
With only the weekend to go before teachers resume normal duties on Monday and the students the following week, there is just no money available to kick-start the school year.
School principal Tobias Abel said it was important that students as well as teachers begin the school year without delays, regardless of the indefinite suspension of the school by the district health authorities.
The outstanding issue to date, has been the diversion of the Rehabilitation Education Sector Infrastructure (RESI) funds for the school.
This is where the problem is and it needs to be resolved with an understanding reached between all concerned bodies – the school administration, the governing council, provincial education division and the district administration as well as the local MP.
A parents and citizens (P&C) meeting is scheduled to be held this Saturday to inform and rectify the problem.
Mr Abel said despite the problems, he was hopeful and positive that the school year would resume as normal without any further disruptions.
School board chairman and former MP Sir Jerry Nalau, yesterday said that he was adamant on his stand that unless and until he is informed regarding the withdrawal of the RESI funds allocated for the school, it would remain suspended.
He said the latest blow was the “complete suspension of the school for an indefinite period by the National Department of Health following three health inspections.
The suspension notice was served to the school on Nov 12 last year after the two previous inspections found that the problems of deteriorating conditions of the school especially its condemned boarding facilities had not been rectified.
According to a frustrated Sir Jerry, “the school applied for RESI funds in 2008 to do maintenance, renovations and improvements to the school’s infrastructure and facilities.”
“RESI funding of K1.89 million was approved, however, to date we have not received any money, now where is the money,” he asked.
“We are giving them until the start of the school year to come clean and tell us where the K1.89 million approved for RESI funds is.”
He said, the school currently needs money to renovate and maintain the infrastructures and facilities before the suspension notice can be uplifted.
He reiterated that the academic year is approaching and if nothing is done, “then I will remove Dregerhafen School and I will take my land back, 50 years of service to the government is enough.”
The former MP said that they had received a notification that the funding had been approved and were waiting for a cheque to be written to the school, but nothing had come of it.
He said that come Saturday, he would affirm his stand on the board of governors’ (BOG) decision regarding the school’s problems.