Revised policy should solve issues

Editorial

FREE education for children in the lower education sector was a great relief to parents through the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) policy but it came with its share of issues that was at the expense of bringing the education system down.
Let’s be realistic, while the TFF policy introduced in 2012 has increased enrollment in gender, retention and literacy, the policy did not address teachers, materials, quality and employment for the bulk graduating classes.
The desired result of quality education was not there.
The education sector over time continued to experience problems at all levels from elementary to tertiary.
These problems were unavoidable for a developing economy such as PNG with the biggest challenge that faces the government at the moment is how to build the capacity of the system to cater for everyone.
While student enrolment every year increased in the public schools, the TFF released did not correspond.
We can continue educating the people but if it is poorly delivered, it could be a disaster too.
Everyone welcomes the Tuition Fee Free policy which now provides access to students who would otherwise struggle or be denied an education because of economic reasons.
However, there are very obvious draw backs of education policy one of which is the limited number of school infrastructure.
The TFF policy has also placed a burden on school administrations, who are now struggling to maintain an increased number of students in run down classrooms.
The Marape–Steven led Government on Thursday announced the wind of change in the revised TFF policy – parents will have to take on some responsibility at the lower education sector.
Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey announced: “Consistent with our government’s promotion of the principles of citizenry acceptance of greater responsibility a policy shift in the financing of education will see 50 per cent of the cost of fees from elementary up to grade 12 to be borne by parents.”
Since then, Papua New Guineans have taken to the various social media platforms some in support of the decision while others claim, it is a slap in the face.
We see many do not understand, the Government is slashing its TFF support by half and not 100 per cent.
If your child’s school fee is K300, parents pay K150 and the other half is subsidised (paid) by the Government.
The other half removed will be used to create another scheme called the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) to directly assist the costs of students attending higher education institutions in PNG.
This will involve the Government paying the fees of those students to attend the higher education institutions by providing them an interest free loan.
Students currently in lower tertiary will one day move into the higher category and can also benefit from the HELP system.
One does not have to look far to see that many students cannot continuing their tertiary education because of school fee problems.
For now, TFF is one problem the state should deal with.
Policy makers now need to focus on the less politically popular aspects of the education policy and get to work to ensure the revised arrangement is delivered to achieve results.
Parents should see investment in the education of their children as a mandatory parental responsibility.

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