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Deteriorating facilities, lack of books

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 1, 2008) – The Papua New Guinea government has unveiled a two-pronged plan worth over PGK700 million [US$280 million] to improve infrastructure in schools and address textbook shortage in schools.

The massive funding comes at a time when public attention has been directed at deteriorating infrastructure and facilities in schools, and poor results associated with the outcome – based learning system, introduced six years ago.

Cabinet last Wednesday approved K500 million to be spent over five years for the supply of textbooks and curriculum materials to all elementary, prep and primary schools.

This new funding is additional to K230 million the Education Department already had sitting in a trust account in a commercial bank, ready to be drawn down for infrastructure development projects.

Acting Education Minister Sani Rambi announced the textbook and infrastructure plans at a press conference in Port Moresby last Friday.

Mr Rambi said K100 million would be provided by the Government every year for five years to ensure each school received textbooks and curriculum materials, which currently were lacking.

He said the current ratio of students to textbook was 10 to one, and in many remote schools, it was 20 students to one textbook.

"None of our children can learn properly under these conditions. We have the money now to change that and improve conditions."

He said the first K100 million was expected to come from the Supplementary Budget expected to be announced this month.

Next year onwards, this money would be included in the Education Department’s recurrent budget.

He said this year, 40% of the K100 million would be spent on transport and freight to ensure the textbooks got to the schools before the start of the 2009 school year.

Mr Rambi said a supplier would be selected through open tender.

The huge funding for textbooks and infrastructure was expected to address three problems associated with outcome – based learning. They were the unavailability of resources, poor quality of teachers, and poor classrooms.


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