HOPEFUL THAT PNG CAN MAKE SCHOOL FEE REDUCTION WORK

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 17, 2009) – Getting every eligible child to school from elementary to Grade 8 is the massive task for the Papua New Guinea and Australian governments.

It will cost K10 billion [US$3.8 billion] when it is fully implemented in 2012.

The Australians reportedly promised their backing at the ministerial forum talks in Brisbane last week.

It is a hugely ambitious project and will doubtless win a great deal of happiness from the grassroots families who struggle to rake up the fees year by year.

It will also lead to a complete eight-year education for 400,000 youngsters who are not in school at this time.

By 2018, every eligible child should be at school for the grades from elementary to year 8.

The plan will only work if the money flows in, from our own revenue and from Australia and other aid donors.

The scheme starts with a 50 per cent subsidy next year and 75% the next year followed by the full deal in 2012.

Education Secretary Dr Joseph Pagelio says this is not a sop to foreign observers, "this is our national plan, PNG driven to ensure our population is educated’’.

His aspirations are in line with the "smart countries’’ of the world, places like Singapore where they place great stress on educating their people to the maximum and rely on those well educated people driving their economy to greater heights.

It’s a program that will test our national economy and the planning capacity of our officials to handle the demands.

It can be done if all in the system are working in concert and pull their weight.

It will mean plenty of new bricks and mortar and should also mean a lot more training of the teachers who will be needed to make the plan a success.

There are many parents who grumble about the quality of tuition their children receive and about the dearth of resources in the schools.

It will be a devalued education if we do not pour in the teachers, the materials and the quality help that a vastly bigger system will require.

It is our earnest hope that the plans are astutely prepared and backed up with carefully distributed money.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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