THE issue of teachers’ leave fares, salary discrepancies, and other such issues pertaining to teacher welfare has got the attention of the Speaker of Parliament who has ordered an investigation into the Department of Education to be carried out by the Parliamentary Referral Committee on Education (PRCE).
PRCE is chaired by Wabag MP Robert Ganim, an educationist by profession and former senior adviser for education in Enga Province.
Other PRCE members include Goilala MP and Deputy chairman Daniel Mona, Eastern Highlands Governor Julie Soso, Sandaun Governor Amkat Mai and Jimi MP Mai Dop.
In a letter dated January 21 to Mr Ganim, Speaker and Finschafen MP Theo Zurenuoc said: "The committees of Parliament play an important role in keeping the executive government along with government departments and line agencies accountable for whatever policy decisions or legislations formulated.
"Parliamentary committees have the powers to conduct inquiries into issues of public importance, through their own initiative as provided under the Permanent Parliamentary Committee Act 1994.
"As such this is the way forward for the Parliamentary Referral Committee on Education to conduct an inquiry into the Department of Education (pertaining to the plight of the teachers in PNG).
"I believe this inquiry will influence other committee chairs. The Parliamentary Committee Secretariat will provide necessary assistance and support in coordinating this inquiry.
"I commend you and assure you that the parliament will stand ready to support your Committee (in this inquiry)."
Mr Ganim confirmed on Friday that the Parliament Speaker has given him "a go" for a nationwide inquiry into the issues of teachers which have dominated the media headlines in the recent weeks.
Early last week, as the new school year began, Madang teachers were irked by non-payment of their leave entitlements and even their postings were not finalised.
The same concerns were raised by five PNG Teachers’ Association (unions) branches in the Highlands and similar stories were reported elsewhere in the country.
"It’s chronic and has been on-going for far too long and needs to be investigated; something needs to be done about this," Mr Ganim said.
Of the K15 billion 2014 national budget, the govern-ment allocated K1.5 billion in the education sector this year, an increase of K160 million from 2013 allocation.
Mr Ganim said K1,082 million will come under the direct aegis and management of the the Department of Education and "if teachers’ are unhappy, it signals bad taste in the management of the DoE which rightly so calls for investigations".
Mr Ganim has written to acting Director of Parliamentary Committee Secretariat, Joe Warau, to put in place a technical team and draft the terms of reference (TOR) for this investigation to kick off sooner rather than later. Post Courier
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