The National- Thursday, February 3, 2011
By GABRIEL FITO
PASSAM National High School in East Sepik had reopened for the 2011 academic year after the landowners backed down on their decision to keep it closed this year until the national government met their land compensation demand of K5 million.
Provincial education adviser Joseph Auli announced this week that classes will resume according to the national education calendar while the landowners have given the education authorities until June to come up with benefits as discussed in a recent meeting with senior education officials from Port Moresby.
The aggrieved landowners closed down the school before Christmas last year and voted to keep it closed this year while rejecting a compensation package of K31,000 for 61ha of land.
The compensation awarded by the government for over a Land Title Commission decision which stated that the land was owned by the state.
Governing council chairman Leo Kabilo, while accepting the landowners’ decision to reopen the school, said the school’s infrastructure, especially the dormitories, were in appalling state.
He said while the landowners had given the go ahead, the school’s infrastructure may not warrant the reopening of Passam for students until thorough maintenance was carried out on the dormitories and classrooms.
Kabilo said the education department had indicated that it would fund the renovation of the existing infrastructure but time may run out as classes would resume next Monday.
Kabilo said to add to the list of existing problems, the school’s water pump had also broken down due to continuous power outages and there would be no water for cooking, washing and drinking.
He said the landowners who had been accommodating over the years in allowing the students to use their creeks and rivers had decided to stop this this year because of the compensation demand.
Kabilo said this had now put the students’ safety at risk and the education department should immediately make funds available if it was serious about the children’s education.