Principal told to step down over extra fees imposed

National, Normal

The National, Monday 25th March 2013


THE principal of St Xavier’s Secondary School on Kairiru Island in East Sepik has been advised by the Education Department to step down.

A notice was served on principal David Aram by education authorities last Thursday because of the extra fees imposed by the school on students as tuition fees for the year.

The department gave a 14-day notice from last Thursday to Aram to refund the K450 to the students and dissolve the school’s board of governors.

But Aram told reporters that the school’s board in its last meeting on Nov 12 had agreed to charge students the project fees.

He said many parents would argue that the upper secondary tuition fees were covered 100% by the government’s tuition-free education policy.

But he said that in St Xavier’s case, there were no free tuition fees for Grade 11 and Grade 12 students. 

“This is because the department still regards St Xavier as a high school and not secondary school.

“Therefore, our Grade 11 and Grade 12 students missed out on that free tuition fee by the national government,” Aram said. 

He said they respected the government policy on free education but to keep the school going they had to impose on parents other fees for projects.

“Government can impose or pass policy but they do not know the situation we face at our schools,” he said.

Aram said if the project fees were not imposed on parents, they would likely close the school by end of the second term holidays because of lack of funds.

“We really respect the government’s free tuition fee but on the other hand we have to consider others things like the school’s infrastructure and rations,” he said.

The school was given K495,000 in the first half payment and K327,000 in the second half – a total of K822,000.

He said last year’s tuition fees for Grade 11 students were not covered by the above figures.

The 2013 tuition free fee policy does not cover Grades 11 and 12.

A parents and citizens meeting was also held to discuss the 14-day notice. They agreed to pay the project fees because of the school financial situation.

Provincial education board chairman and education advisor Joseph Aulia said he was not aware of the 14-day notice.

“I do not know and how the principal of St Xavier got that information,” he said.

Aulia advised principals, head teachers and board chairmen to disregard such information from any officers of the provincial education office.

“I am the only one who will give such instruction because authorities from the department will always come to me first,” he said.