Schools need to follow procedures

Editorial, Normal

The National, Friday January 8th, 2016

 THE 2016 school year begins on February 1 and it is more than likely that hundreds of government schools throughout Papua New Guinea will not receive their tuition fee free (TFF) funds in time for the first term. 

Despite the release of K150 million by the Government this week as the first batch of schools, we can safely assume that the bulk of schools in the rural areas will continue to struggle with the lack of funds and other resources.

Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan, who announced the release of the first quarter TTF funding assured all schools that the funds should be in their bank accounts before students resumed classes.

Nonetheless, thousands of school children will be affected because officers at Education headquarters in Waigani and at provincial education offices have a tendency to neglect their duties and are incompetent in following clear instructions from higher authorities. 

The result is that rural schools will not be getting what is a guaranteed government funding. In the absence of such needed funds, the school year may start off rather badly with a lack of materials for the unfortunate children.

That will again force school administrations to charge fees from parents when they should not be, with the promise of reimbursements when subsidy funds eventually land in their school accounts.  

That sounds fair but we thought the O’Neill Government’s agenda was to provide some relief to struggling parents and allow all school age children access to basic education on time.

Unfortunately, charging and collecting fees to start the school year may be the obvious choice for schools which will not be receiving their first quarter payments because they have not followed laid down procedures unless they have sufficient leftover money from last year. 

We understand that most of 14,000 registered schools in PNG, which are entitled to benefit from the Government’s free education policy, will receive their first quarter funds.  The rest will have to wait until their papers for the past school year is in order to the satisfaction of the Education Department.

The ruling coalition has made good its promise to subsidise elementary, primary and secondary education and if we are to go by the Finance Secretary’s words, money should be deposited at the three main commercial banks which keep the school accounts by start of first 


For those schools which have complied with directions and followed procedures, that money should be deposited into their respective accounts for them to access and purchase whatever curriculum materials and other supplies necessary to start the school year.  

However, many rural schools will continue to face funding problems because of bureaucratic red tape at Education headquarters and provincial offices.

Many schools in the Morobe Province reported that they missed out on school fee subsidies in 2014 and expected to go without the TFF subsidies for most of Last year.

As Morobe education office said at the time, some of these schools were in isolated rural areas and had failed to comply with the criteria set by the Education Department. “Some of them had failed to submit their school census forms while others filled them incorrectly or misplaced theirs. Some had spelling mistakes on their school names and provided wrong account details, prompting Waigani to hold back the funds.”

Parents and students of the affected schools should not accept such incompetence and negligence as an excuse.  

Things simply need to be done better and with greater care which does not require much genius and time.  It only requires someone following procedures and double checking facts and figures.

The Government’s free education policy did not happen overnight to catch provincial education authorities, district school inspectors and school boards of management by surprise.  

It was a well-documented policy and we are certain its procedures have been or should have been communicated well to the lowest possible level, which is the school headmasters and boards of management so they are clear in their minds about what is expected of them. 

It is therefore not acceptable that many of these schools have still not met the basic criteria in order to draw on the government funds provided to improve students’ learning.