PNG HIGHLANDS SCHOOLS GET $394,000

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By Peku Pilimbo

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, June 2) - The Southern Highlands provincial government in Papua New Guinea has released K1.27 million (US$394,000) for all schools in the province.

These include four secondary and 12 high schools, which will share K800,000 (US$248,000) for school supplies and K476, 000(US$147,800) in cash grants for the second term.

This comes amidst warning by Education Minister Michael Laimo that students in grades 8, 10 and 12 would not be able to qualify to sit for end of year examinations if they fail to be in school for the full year.

There have been reports that schools in the resource-rich province were on the verge of closing down due to lack of funds for school supplies and other necessities.

Parents were not paying any school or project fees this year because the provincial government had promised to fund it under a K19 million free education scheme.

Mr Laimo urged SHP governor Hami Yawari to release the funds to avoid any closure of schools.

This would enable students to attend classes and be eligible to sit for the school examinations at the end of the year.

Mr Yawari told a press conference yesterday that K1.27 million has been released and school administrators and parents should not panic.

He said they should not believe rumour-mongers who are claiming that his free education policy was failing.

He added the provincial education officials would travel to Ialibu, Mendi and Tari next week to start distributing these funds and appealed to students, teachers and parents not to disrupt any classes.

"I made a commitment to the people and I plan to keep it," said Mr Yawari.

The provincial government has distributed K4 million already under the free education subsidy scheme.

Mr Yawari also called on the national government to release royalty payments for the provincial government for the Dec 2003 to May 2004 period, which he said were outstanding.

"They must release what’s due to my province so I can go ahead and fund my programmes," he said.

Earlier this week, Inter-Government Relations Minister Sir Peter Barter expressed concern that the schools were closing because payments and materials received under the free education scheme were not sufficient to meet the real operating costs for this term.

June 3, 2004

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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