Sir Julius: K17bil for education too costly

National, Normal

The National, Friday, June 3rd 2011

NEW Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan has said the government’s K17 billion education bill is frightfully expensive and eight times what it would cost the government.
Sir Julius called on the government to revise its plans to implement free education. 
“We can and should do it now,” Sir Julius said. 
“Free education keeps money in the pockets of the grassroots, money they desperately need. And we have the experience and know-how in New Ireland to show the way.”
Sir Julius was responding to the government’s statement that basic education would cost the government more than K17 billion over 10 years. 
“That is not a realistic figure,” he said.
“We have been providing free basic as well as subsidised education in New Ireland for four years, and we know what it costs.  It is very simple to figure out what it would cost nationally by figuring the proportion of all students in the country going to school in New Ireland and multiplying that by what it costs us.”
Sir Julius said that in New Ireland total elementary and primary school enrolment through Grade 8 last year was 42,000 students, and that total national enrolment in last year was about 1,200,000 students.
“This means there are about thrity-four times as many students in the entire country as in New Ireland,” he added.
“So you just need to multiply what it costs us to provide free and subsidised education in New Ireland by 34 to get a rough idea of what it would cost to provide this for the entire country.”  
Sir Julius said that since New Ireland spent about K5.6 million annually for free education for elementary and primary students, it would cost the government about 34 times that, or K190 million per year. 
“If we say K200 million per year, that means it would cost the national government around
K2 billion to provide free education up to Grade 8 over the next 10 years. And this money goes directly into the pockets of our people,” he said.
Sir Julius said that New Ireland had been providing free education for four years since 2008 and had a lot of experience in running the programme.