School in dire need

National, Normal


MAGARIDA High School in the Central province is in dire need of assistance for its 134 students after it missed out on the school subsidy this year.
Headmaster Joseph Aufa told The National yesterday that he had to travel six hours by dingy from Magarida to Kupiano and then four hours by road from Kupiano to Port Moresby to draw attention to the plight of the students.
“We are using the Magarida Primary School facilities because the high school itself is handicapped,” he said.
“There is no power, poor drinking water and only one tank for the students and the teachers and to share, and it often runs out of water in the dry season.”
Ninety-two students are in Grade Nine and 42 in Grade 10.
Mr Aufa said the Grade 10 students had repeated their grades due to shortage of funds and teachers.
“Currently there are only five teachers with me and we are doing our best to keep our students focused on school, especially, those in Grade 10 who are just three weeks away from the national examinations,” he said.
Mr Aufa added that the school did not have a dictionary and there was onlyone Grade 9 science textbook, 14 Grade 10 science books and three Grade 10 home economics textbooks.
He also disclosed that they were accommodating 50 “illegal students” on campus because their village was too far from school and it would take them six hours to arrive at the school.
“They look after themselves and we assist them, but they often go hungry when their parents do not visit them,” he said. 
Mr Aufa became the headmaster in May and he claimed that his predecessor had not submitted the 2008 school census thus, resulting in the school missing out on this year’s subsidy.
He had written to the Department of Education and visited the Waigani office to “ask for leniency giving the reasons” but he was told that there were no funds in the subsidy accounts.
He also wrote to Abau MP Sir Puka Temu, in May for assistance but had not received any response as yet.
“Magarida seems to be invisible to the Education department and the Central provincial members but I will not give up because I do not want my Grade 10 students to repeat,” he said.
“No classes will be suspended because it would not be fair for the students and the teachers.
“I’m calling on the Central MPs to rescue the school,” he said.