PNG secondary school to close due to lack of funds

4:06 pm on 14 May 2018

A Papua New Guinea secondary school is preparing to close at the end of this week due to funding shortfalls.

School books and a chalkboard

Photo: 123 RF

Kwikila High School, which is a government-funded boarding school, is the largest secondary school in Central Province with around 1400 students.

It's the latest of a number of schools that are closing across PNG as the government's Tuition Fee Free, or TFF, policy appears to be floundering.

A representative of the High School on the Kwikila District Administration, Koru Abe, said their school has to close because it hasn't received the funds required in order to operate .

"They have no food. Virtually, they have about four hundred kina in their school account. The situation is that, for one reason or another, I do not know, but the fact is the TFF, the free education money, is not forthcoming. Therefore, we'll have no alternative but to end the kids home."

Mr Abe said that beyond this week, the boarding school could not keep the students on.

"We cannot keep them here. we are going to be in trouble if they go hungry. There's no food. The only food we have rationed is for this week only. And after that there's no more food, and we will have no alternative but to send the kids home."

As well as food, the school's various learning materials and associated operating costs were also dependent on funding. Teachers were however still getting paid though the national payroll system.

He said the problem stemmed from last year when the school didn't get the full amount of the funding promised to it.

"And therefore the school incurred debts that we hoped would be paid as soon as the government gave us our TFF funds," he explained.

"Unfortunately that wasn't the case, and the little money we received earlier this year went to paying of last year's debts, and we have nothing to take us through the year."

The Education Minister Nick Kuman recently admitted there had been delays in government payments to some schools.

He attributed it to pressures on the Education Department's limited funding due to an increase in the number of enrolments caused by the TFF policy.