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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 20) – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative in Papua New Guinea says the poverty trap for future generations could be prevented by offering free, universal primary school education.

Dr Isiye Ndombi says half the primary-school aged children in the country do not attend classes.

He says they’re generally from the poorer families and this means their children end up with no education and low-paid work.

Dr Ndombi says if they go to school they would have more opportunities in the future.

"The biggest constraint, the biggest obstacle to participating in education is school fees," Ndombi said. "The current ten year plan - it’s planned for tuition-free to be introduced in 2012. Basically, they are committed to introducing it at some stage. What we’re arguing is that it’s pushing the goal posts too far."

Dr Ndombi says UNICEF would like to see free, universal education introduced by 2007 and they’re talking to officials about this.

December 21, 2004

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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