The National, Wednesday 5th September, 2012
THE government will be about growing the future, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told parliament in his state of the nation address.
“Growing the future means re-investing in health, education and infrastructure and diversifying the economy to maximise opportunities for citizens,” O’Neill said.
The prime minister intended to drive his policies through public-private partnership, institutional strengthening of the public sector and through the government’s five-pillar policies of education, health care, infrastructure, law and order and the economy.
O’Neill said the economy had been growing at over 8% for 10 straight years and predicted that internal drivers of the economy were strong and stable enough to withstand current global economic uncertainty.
On education, he said tuition fee-free education would be extended to include Grades 11 and 12 in the 2013 budget and the national scholarship programme would also be extended.
“We understand that as a result of free education, there are substantial increases in student population causing stress on infrastructure and personnel.
“We will – over the next five years beginning in 2013 – invest in the construction of more classrooms, teacher houses and better working conditions including training.
“We will also review the curriculum that is being used now by the Education Department, given that many parents are complaining about the quality of education under the outcome-based education system.
“Beginning in 2013, we will start the comprehensive implementation of the recommendations of the Garnaut-Namaliu Review so that we bring our institutions to internationally-acceptable standards while we continue to increase student population.
“From many examples around the world, an uneducated country is a poorer country.
“Our people are our biggest renewable resource.”
In terms of health, O’Neill said major provincial hospitals and health centres would be directly funded under annual budgets to continue provisions of free basic healthcare services to citizens and also to rebuild many run-down infrastructures.
“Over time, our government envisages provision of free healthcare at clean modern hospitals with more doctors and nurses with greater access to medication and modern equipment.
“Many health works programmes have started as a result of direct funding in the 2012 budget but more concerted effort needs to be made.”