Students become victims

Editorial, Normal

The National, Wednesday June 4th, 2015

 A CHEQUE written to Mt Hagen Technical College for the benefit 40 students from Dei district in Western Highlands has gone missing and this has resulted in the indefinite suspension of those students from attending classes. 

Crazy but true.  

It is quite depressing to hear that someone who might have a grudge over something has decided to act rather childishly so a group of students should be penalised in this manner. 

The story which we ran in yesterday’s paper sounds like personal vendetta taken to extraordinary heights. 

This is simply unacceptable and those responsible ought to be ashamed of themselves. 

The college suspended the students after their school fees had already been paid by Dei district development authority but that cheque is still missing somewhere. 

In what must have been a typical Highlands public ceremony the Dei district development authority paid K176,480 with a cheque that, for some reason, did not reach the college or got deposited directly into the college account. 

According to our story, the cheque was received by the former principal of the college on Feb 26 at Kitip Secondary School. 

The college decided to suspend the Dei students because according to board chairman Steven Ronomu:  “We can’t accommodate and feed these students from Dei at the expense of other students and therefore we sent them home.”

The college is now waiting on the former principal or whoever else received the cheque subsequently to hand it so that the 40 students to be reinstated to continue their studies.

A complaint has already been lodged with the criminal investigation division to investigate the matter.

Mt Hagen Technical College has been affected by leadership changes in a rather short space of time and this must has undoubted left a few unhappy people.  

There have been issues of college funds going missing.  

We understand the matter has the attention of the law enforcement agencies as well.

It appears that the current situation at the college where a group of students are sent home is a result of these on-going differences and issues over the top management position of the college.

Despite decisive actions taken by the responsible authorities, the college continues to suffer due to management and funding issues.

We appreciate that decisions by appointing agencies do adversely affect career prospects and individuals have that right to seek redress in whatever way they can.  

It is a known fact that many promising public service leaders are sidelined and favoured over less deserving and qualified candidates. 

In the case in question, there is a clear pathway to pursue by aggrieved parties to take to challenge appointment decisions and that is through the Teaching Services Commission.  

In this an appointment has been and a new principal is in charge of the college.  The college governing council chairman is calling on the National Education Board and the Technical and Vocational Education Training division of the National Department of Education to intervene in the current situation.

The cheque for the payment of the now suspended students should be surrendered and banked. 

Or can the district development authority simply write another cheque to pay the students fees? 

Sort out your differences and claims to the position with the right authorities or the courts and not allow students’ education to be jeopardised in this manner.

Education authorities should step in urgently to sort out the situation and if necessary police should be called in to investigate and press appropriate charges against those persons responsible for what has become of the Dei students whose education is now interrupted. 

What have the students done to deserve such treatment?  

We note that the situation at Mt Hagen Technical College is not an isolated case but one that arises occasionally in other public institutions around the country as well.  

Out of spite and because of disagreements over appointments to leadership and management positions, aggrieved parties sometimes take the easy route to staking their claim or reinforcing their positions by resorting to measures engineered at causing the greatest inconvenience possible. 

This seems to be the case at Mt Hagen Technical College and the 40 suspended students are entitled to a very good explanation.