Since the last year, EMTV journalist, Julie Badui Owa has been tracking the delivery of the much talked about Tuition Fee Free (TFF) money supposedly paid to schools in the Morobe province.
Getting the information is a long tedious task that includes talking to school principals, checking school enrolment records, bank statements and calculating the amount that is supposed to be paid into the schools’ accounts.
It is not a glamorous story. There is no real ‘fame and fortune’ to be gained.
She has found that the information is always sketchy. There is almost always a mismatch between what government authorities in Port Moresby say and what the schools expect to get.
Julie has also found that there is a general lack of information on how the TFF components are calculated. She has also found that there are widespread complaints about the lack of consultation between the suppliers of school materials and the schools.
At the beginning of the 2018 academic year, she found that a relatively large number of schools in Lae District were still owed TFF money from 2017. The overall picture doesn’t look good for education authorities.
In Lae District Julie spoke to eight primary school head teachers, one secondary school principal, and one elementary school head teacher. In total, the schools are owed K3.7 million.
In the Nawaeb District, the Nawaeb High School is owed K1.2 million. Menyamya District’s Hakwange Primary is still waiting for an outstanding payment of K40,000.
The story is the same with other provinces. In Pomio, Palmalmal Secondary is in debt. It owes K120,000 to a local trade store for the supply of food rations.
In Eastern Highlands, West Goroka Primary is owed more than K400,000. This information was sourced this week by EMTV cameraman, Maisen Hungito who traveled to Goroka for another job. It is not made up. It is not secondhand information cooked up to discredit the TFF policy. Authorities have to see the realities on the ground and admit that we have a problem.
Lae Secondary School decided to charge K600 per student. The school administration knows TFF won’t come on time. They, like many other schools, defied the government directives not to charge fees because they know TFF money won’t come on time.
Initially, school principles were hesitant to speak out about the problem. But they have come to see that managing the schools has become increasingly difficult without funding. So much so that they have begun speaking out.