The National, Wednesday 08th Febuary 2012
By JAMES APA GUMUNO
THE tuition-free education policy has put pressure on schools in Western Highlands to absorb a flood of enrolments, officials say.
Assistant education secretary Joe Yaga, standard officer Stanley Wandaksen and Tarangau Primary School board chairman Douglas Ivawarato revealed this to Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma during the presentation of school uniforms, books and cheques to schools in Hagen Central.
They said limited space plus old and deteriorating school infrastructure prevented schools from accommodating extra students this year.
On Monday some parents could not enrol their children because of the limited spaces available.
Wandaksen said he had received reports from Fatima and Hagen secondary that parents were fighting to re-enrol their children.
The lack of space in all schools in the province was the biggest problem in catering for the influx of students under the tuition-free policy.
With the rapid rise in population in the province, “schools built a long time ago are unable to accommodate many students”.
Wandaksen said Grades 8, 10 and 12 performed very well last year but because of the space problem, some students did not have the chance to continue their education.
He said 224 Grade 10 students who qualified to be in Gr 11 this year missed out because of the lack of space.
There is a need for additional high schools to be built in the province if all students wanting to enrol were to be accommodated.
The provincial education board would try its best to accommodate all students.
He said many parents complained at his office on Monday that their children from Hagen Central were being sent to other schools in the province.
Ivawarato said free education “is putting too much pressure on schools and parents competing to secure space for their children”.
He said it would have been better to have the necessary infrastructure in place in all schools before introducing free education.