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Community college system targets education dropouts

By Jeffrey Elapa PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March. 21, 2011) – The government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has secured a soft loan of 130 million- kina [US$51 million] from the Import-Export Bank of China to fund the department’s community college program aimed at giving an opportunity to dropouts in the country.

Education Minister, James Marape, revealed during a press conference upon arrival at the Jackson’s international airport yesterday, that the government had secured the 130 million- kina [US$51 million] loan to be repaid at a rate of 2 percent interest for the next 15 years to fund 16 trial community college programs.

He said the Minister of Finance and Treasury Peter O’Neill signed the loan package on behalf of the government last Thursday in Beijing to fund the second phase of the community college program.

He said as a responsible department and a government, it was their responsibility to secure funds to assist the dropouts from our formal schools to be equipped with the necessary life skills while those who wanted to continue could do so through the avenues provided.

Marape said the system continued to produce a lot of dropouts but through government interventions dropouts could prosper and contribute meaningfully to development through the vocational and technical colleges, the flexible open distance education and these colleges.

He said by 2019, more than two million school age children were expected in PNG and about 1.5 million would be at en­roll­ed but with just 50,000 spaces available at tertiary institutions, 90 percent of them would be pushed out.

Marape said many structural reforms were necessary at his department to give a second chance in life as a way forward in addressing major social issues.

He added that those enrolled at the colleges could also further their education and end up at polytechnic institutions.

Meanwhile, he said that the building materials for the 16 colleges have arrived before the loans were secured but the onus was on the respective Local Level Governments and provincial governments to sort out their land issues before the colleges are built.

The colleges are Viviran, East New Britain; Kar­kar, Madang; Finsch­hafen, Morobe; Cape Rod­ney, Central; Aitape, West Se­pik; Pomio, East New Bri­tain; Pangia, Southern High­lands; Mabiri, Bou­gain­ville; Port Moresby; Rigo, Central; Kamaliki, Eastern Highlands; Hi­wan­da, Hela; Kikori, Gulf; Ok Tedi, Western; Ma­rieng­berg, East Sepik; and Wabag, Enga.

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