PNG Government Spent $1.2 Billion For Education In Past 4 Years

Opposition complains that some schools haven't received funds under the 'free education policy'

By Jeffrey Elapa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 27, 2016) – The National Government has spent over K4 billion [US$1.2 billion] in the education sector during the past four years, including more than K3 billion [US$924 million] funding of the signature free education policy of the O’Neill Government.

Finance Minister James Marape said this in response to a question from Telefomin MP Solan Mirisim to explain how much has been spent so far on the Government’s tuition fee free education as it ignited serious debate by Members from the Opposition led by Don Polye.

"Every year since 2012, we have transferred K605 million [US$186 million] for tuition fee free and this year we have remitted up to 70 per cent of the budgeted funds. On top of this we continue to transfer K2 million [US$615,000] from Waigani yearly for all 89 districts education sector, hence this equates to K712 million [US$219 million] in four years.

"This is quite a substantial investment, and even if we do not fix all the problems in the sector, we have equally invested this huge sum and the National Government expects some changes in the education sector," Mr Marape said.

This year Government still has about 30 per cent of TFF to retire, and we commit to do so before this academic year is completed.

Earlier Opposition Leader Don Polye said as a result of the TFFE, more than two million children have enrolled in schools nationwide and this has caused overcrowding in classrooms. He said many schools have yet to receive their funds while many others have closed early.

He said that many parents had been forced to dig into their pockets to pay fees.

Mr Polye gave examples of schools in Madang, Milne Bay, West Sepik and Morobe and the Gordon Secondary School in Port Moresby, who are yet to receive their funds.

He said these are few examples of schools suffering as a result of the Government’s failure, while the Government claims to pay on time.

Mr Polye claimed that according to the Department of Education, more than 3380 of the 13,703 schools in the country have yet to receive their funds.

According to recent reports, Unitech in Lae has not received the promised K40 million [US$12 million] for infrastructure, UPNG owes K32 million [US$9.9 million] to contractors, while the law school complex is incomplete due to funding shortage.

Mr Marape said the Government has remitted all its commitments for 2012 - 2015.

However, he said in 2016 academic year, Government has remitted about 70 per cent of the total of K603 million  [US$186 million] while the other 30 per cent will be remitted to schools.

Mr Marape said the issue is not the money but management of funds, and schools need to better manage these funds.

He said that not all accumulated problems can be addressed in four years, however, he said for the first time the Government had given a relief to the parents for five years and will continue as they would make it a policy.

PNG Post-Courier
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