I WRITE in solidarity with my colleague and friend Bishop Piso of the Gutnius Lutheran church in Enga, in his concern over the manner in which education officials in the Highlands routinely ride roughshod over the recommendations of church agencies.
Bishop Piso cites a ruling of Justice Ambeng Kandakasi confirming our understanding of the relevant Education and Teaching Service Act, that education officials do not have the power to appoint anyone not recommended by the agency to any position in an agency school.
They, especially in the context of a full PEB (provincial education board) meeting, can determine that a recommended person is not eligible and they can negotiate with the agency to find a suitable person.
They cannot appoint someone, as Bishop Piso indicates, with “a criminal record and who come from non-Christian background to teach in our schools”.
For the Catholic agency, this definitely excludes any person unknown to us, or who defies the agency and who is in a polygamous marriage or who has an unresolved allegation of sexual misconduct involving a student.
The church agencies and the Teachers Association are in court over the same issue here in Western Highlands.
We are still disputing the appointments for 2018 in order to obtain this direction, but this case languishes.
In the meantime, the same officials have proceeded to override agency recommendations last year and again this year.
Dialogue has not succeeded.
Appeals to the higher authorities has fallen on deaf ears.
The law has not helped.
It seems that a clear direction from the highest administrative and political offices, accompanied by penalties, will resolve this issue, to allow the agencies to protect their identities and provide the quality education for which we were once well-known.
Douglas W Young, Archbishop of Mt Hagen