PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (August 17) - The problems affecting New Ireland Province were brought to the fore at a development forum in Port Moresby over the weekend.

Three issues stood out as the most serious challenges facing the province today; health, education and transport infrastructure.

These problems are no different from those facing many other provinces in Papua New Guinea.

For New Ireland, they have accumulated over many years under various premierships and governorships up until now.

The Government of Governor Ian Ling-Stuckey is under pressure to provide answers for these problems immediately: raise the standard of education, health service delivery and fix the appalling road conditions, mainly in the Namatanai and west coast New Ireland areas.

Ling-Stuckey has called for a summit on education in the hope of finding the right answers for an education system that has fallen almost to the bottom of the PNG education scale and placed the future of thousands of children in jeopardy.

Educationist Kapa Kelep-Malpo has called for a revolution in the education system and the weeding out of the deadwood. She is a New Irelander and one of the best qualified to pass judgment on the situation in the province.

Her views may sound radical but if the province is to lift its education standards, the political leadership and its administrative machinery must be prepared to take no-nonsense decisions in the best interest of the children. Education positions belong to the people, not to individuals and those who do not perform do not deserve to keep their positions.

Health statistics for the province paint an equally gloomy picture and that message came directly from the nation’s number one doctor -- Health Secretary Dr. Nicholas Mann.

He warned the population of New Ireland could be destroyed over the next 20 years unless strong measures are taken now to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the province.

None of the three members of Parliament from the province, Ling-Stuckey, Kavieng MP Martin Aini and Namatanai MP Byron Chan attended the forum. This is the missing link. Politicians, the administration and educated New Irelanders need to speak with one voice.

August 17, 2004

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