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By Augustine Kinna

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 17, 2008) - The Autonomous Bougainville Government has allocated PGK2.4 million [US$893,000] for its school fee assistance scheme under its 2008 Budget.

This is about 70 percent more than last year’s allocation of PGK1.4 million [US$520,000].

The chief executive officer of the region’s education division Bruno Babato, said that on top of the PGK2.4 million, about PGK950,000 [US$354,000] was not used last year.

He said this meant that there would be more than PGK3 million available for students this year [the total is US$1.2 million].

He said 2,219 applications for assistance were approved last year and about PGK958,000 was disbursed.

Mr. Babato said the scheme was open to Bougainvillean students in secondary and high schools, vocational institutes and universities throughout the country.

"This year we have reformatted the application system to make it user-friendly to students and parents," he said.

He said Grades 9 to 12 students and others studying in institutions in Bougainville did not have to apply as they would automatically receive some financial assistance.

However, the institutions must provide a full list of their enrolment to his office in order to receive the money.

"For Bougainvillean students studying outside the region, they must submit an application and attach a letter of acceptance or a letter of continuity and transcript from the institution," he said.

Grades 9 to 12 and self-sponsored tertiary student will receive a 30 percent subsidy while other tertiary students on Government scholarship will receive 10 percent.

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