By BRADLEY MARIORI
SCHOOL fees at national institutions is systematically putting a barrier between the rich and the poor, a church head says.
Evangelical Lutheran church of PNG (ELCPNG) head bishop Dr Rev Jack Urame said he was compelled to voice his concern that the country was inadvertently creating a structure that systematically made education a privilege for those who could afford it on the one hand, while denying the poor on the other.
“The rich can meet up with the system but the poor cannot,” he said.
“Those who are wealthy can afford to pay easily but those who have little or nothing cannot.
“Often it is the children of the poor who are forced out of the system even when they have the academic potential to make it through.”
Rev Urame said many brilliant and deserving students who could contribute meaningfully to the country ended up on the streets, in towns and settlements or return to their village in frustration.
“Because they are forced out of the system, they feel that they are useless,” he said.
“This contributes to a lot of the social problems we are facing in the country today.”
Rev Urame said this was systematic injustice to the people but at the end of the day, both the children of the rich and the poor would contribute to the development of the country.
He said education was unaffordable for many who were unemployed or living in rural areas with little economic activities to generate income.
He said parents and relatives were struggling to pay for their children’s education because of high school fees.
“Some cannot afford the thousands of kina when they are accepted into universities or colleges
so they miss out on enrolment,” he said.
“I have seen bright students with very good grades staying back in the village or roaming the streets because they don’t have the money to pay their school fees.”
“From what I witness, I am convinced that we are killing the brains of our young country.
“They must not be a waste.”