The Opposition lashes out at the Department of Education over its mismanagement of the teachers’ travel entitlements as reported in the National newspaper of 13th
December 2013 .
The Deputy Opposition Leader, Mr Sam Basil said that teachers must be given fair and just treatment as a token of appreciation for their dedicated and committed services to the people of Papua New Guinea
Teachers are the backbone of Papua New Guinea and they play a vital and pivotal role in the process of our country’s progress and prosperity in terms of the development of our human resources. Without teachers, we cannot progress and prosper as a nation because we would lack the human resources – the driving force behind all aspects of development, Mr. Basil said.
While other public servants work from 7.45 am to 4.06 pm five (5 )days a week and enjoy the benefits of good remuneration packages, decent accommodation, easy access to transport and other facilities such as banking and postal services, teachers work very long hours. They live and work in unbearable living conditions, particularly those serving in very remote rural areas, Mr. Basil said.
According to Mr. Basil, teachers are the most hard working public servants in the country in terms of their work load and their long hours of services, however they are not appropriately rewarded in terms of their remuneration packages. They only enjoy a base salary for their very long hours of dedicated and committed services to the State without claiming over time allowances for working beyond normal public servants working hours from 7.45 am to 4.06 pm.
The foul play over the teachers’ travel entitlements as reported in the local media clearly reflects mal-administration on the part of the Department of Education. It is indeed a slap on the faces of the teachers who serve the people of this country with commitment and dedication, Mr. Basil said.
The Opposition strongly condemns the Department of Education’s current system of administration as it relates to the teachers’ travel entitlements. In reality, the current system allows for corrupt practices by educational officers dealing with such entitlements. The administrative system is corrupt and is robbing the teachers of their rightful leave entitlements and as such the Ministry and Department of Education need to overhaul the same as soon as possible for the better, Mr. Basil said.
As a token of appreciation for the teachers’ dedicated and committed services to the State, it is only proper that their leave entitlements are promptly paid in full to enable them to return to their home provinces and enjoy their Christmas vacation and return to their place of work in time to résumé duties when academic year for 2014 commences. Teachers must therefore access their leave entitlements in full and without any form of deductions, Mr. Basil said.
The Opposition further condemns the decision of the Department of Education to engage Travel Agents to administer the teachers’ leave entitlements which is a very costly exercise. This is a very simple administrative task which the Department of Education can administer in collaboration with airline companies. The engagement of Travel Agents for that matter leaves a lot to be desired and it obviously amounts to corrupt practices on the part of the decision makers in the Department of Education who may be soliciting favours from the concerned travel Agents, Mr. Basil said.
As a remedial measure and for the benefit of the teachers, Mr. Basil strongly recommends that the Ministry and Department of Education overhaul their current administrative system and consider taking the following optional course of actions:.
1. That the Department of Education terminates all existing contracts with Travel Agents and administer the teachers’ travel entitlements itself through Education Divisions in each Province
2. That the Department of Education deals directly with airline companies in administering such entitlements.
3. Should the Department of Education decide to continue administering the teachers’ travel entitlements with Travel Agents, it (the Department of Education) must be prepared to cater for the Travel Agents’ administration fees so that the teachers can access their travel entitlements in full and without any form of deductions.
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