PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 3) - One of the most serious problems in Papua New Guinea presently is the way people burn down classrooms whenever they have a dispute over some matter.

There is little or no consideration at all for the education of children. 

The latest burning down of two classrooms and the destruction of school property worth thousands of kina in the Watut area of the Morobe Province is yet another example of this outrageous behaviour which keeps repeating itself all around Papua New Guinea. 

There is only one way to deal with this problem. Close down the affected school indefinitely. Whenever people burn down a school or classroom, education services should be withdrawn from their area until they give a written guarantee that they will look after their schools, teachers and students.

They should be made to understand and realise that each time they attack a school they are destroying the education of their own children. They are not hurting other people’s children — no — their own. 

All over PNG schools need new classrooms, teachers houses and educational materials. They need equipment of all types for teaching. These are assets that cost thousands of kina to buy — money that is not always readily available to the schools. The Government should look at this matter seriously and perhaps look at amending the Criminal Code to increase punishment for offences such as burning down of classrooms or even whole schools and teachers houses. 

Any attack on an educational institution should attract the most severe form of punishment available under the law. 

An attack on a school is an attack on the future of PNG and should be rated as equal to wilful murder and other serious crimes. 

We have seen far too many instances of attacks on schools, teachers and even children or students. It is time to take tough action against those who think they can easily burn down a classroom and get away with it.

September 3, 2003

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/


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