SOME schools in the country are defying the Government’s directive not to charge students project fees, arguing that they need money to start classes while awaiting their subsidy allocations.
In support of them, a Cabinet Minister says the circular issued by the Education Department came too close to the start of the school year, disrupting schools’ plans.
East New Britain provincial education adviser Pius Gawi said they were yet to receive the circular from Education Secretary Dr Michael Tapo on the matter.
The provincial education division had already advised schools to collect project fees from parents. Education officers used the local radio station on Monday night to advise the people that project fees for this year remained at K200 as per the Government policy last year.
President of the Morobe Teachers Association Mark Nanu said schools would face financial difficulties if they did not collect project fees now.
Nanu said the project fee was important for schools to meet administration costs and implement school projects.
Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Malakai Tabar said parents must still pay project fees.
“Eleven days from the beginning of the academic year, and you (education department) come up with such announcement,” he said.
“It is obviously something that was not planned well at Waigani.”
Tabar said the department should have made the announcement last November when most schools were preparing their programmes and plans for the 2015 academic year.
“It is the beginning of the academic year and schools need money to operate. Parents please pay whatever project fee you are asked to pay when you enrol,” he said.
“We should not be defying directions from the department but at the same time, schools need money to start.”
He said the ENB provincial education board had set project fees which was made known to parents during the 2014 graduations.
“If school do not start properly because there is no money, children and the education system in ENB will be worse off and not those at Waigani.”
He called on Education minister Nick Kuman and Secretary Michael Tapo to be realistic about the welfare of schools.
He said the schools would have to wait for some time before the Government subsidy was paid into their bank accounts.
Schools need to pay staff such as security guards, maintenance workers and clerks.
Bumayong Secondary School principal Saya Daniel said the Morobe provincial education board had allowed all schools to charge students K250 as project fees in secondary schools and K150 for primary schools.
Daniel said they might be charging parents for uniform fees next year.
Lae Secondary School principal Christopher Raymond said they received the education department circular yesterday afternoon. The National
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