‘Don’t turn away any student’, Marape tells PNG schools

Crowd at Jiwaka
Hundreds of people, including children, turned up at Kurumul, Jiwaka, on Friday for Prime Minister James Marape's ground-breaking ceremony for the K200 million new provincial headquarters. Childen are back to school today in Papua New Guinea. Image: The National/PNG Govt

By Gynnie Kero in Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape has instructed schools to enrol all children who turn up for the start of term one today – irrespective of whether they have paid any fees.

“All children must be enrolled,” he said.

“Do not leave any child outside the classroom. Don’t worry about project fees which are charged at a rate of about 20 percent of the total fee.”

He gave a cheque for K123 million (NZ$49 million) to the Education Department last Friday to be paid into school bank accounts as part of the K486 million (NZ$193 million) under the government tuition fee subsidy policy.

“This [payment of K123m] will ensure that parents do not pay any school fees upfront,” he said.

“Parents are required to pay 37 percent and I ask schools to ensure that parents are given time to pay the fees.

“We will try our very best to ensure that the funds for the second quarter are secured before the end of term one.”

Settling the year’s expenses
Marape hoped that the government could pay the entire K486 million by July to ensure schools had funds and to settle their expenses from last year.

Marape clarified that the payment was to cover the Flexible, Open and Distance Education (Fode) programme nationwide.

He called on principals of high and secondary schools, and provincial education advisers to assist students who have dropped out of the school system but want to continue their education.

“No child from elementary to vocational is to be turned away next (this) week because equally we are giving enough money to districts and provinces,” he said.

“District education advisers and provincial education advisers are asked to take stock of class sizes to ensure that classrooms are not over-crowded.

“Provincial governments must assist with infrastructure for elementary, primary and high schools/secondary schools.”

He reiterated his call for schools not to punish parents who are genuinely struggling.

Help for struggling parents
“For every parent out there who are really struggling, especially those who are low-income earners, your districts and provinces will be given funds to assist you,” Marape said.

“Do not worry. All you have to do is go to your local district officers, inform them that you can’t meet the 37 percent component and they should assist you.”

Education Minister Jimmy Uguro assured Marape that the department would ensure the effective and efficient delivery of education.

Uguro also urged parents to be responsible for their children’s education.

“Education is a shared responsibility and I call on parents to contribute by paying school fees,” he said.

Asia Pacific Report republishes The National articles with permission.

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