When the PNG Fire Service and the Morobe Building Board, condemned six buildings at Huonville Primary School, it came as no surprise for the school administration.
For the last five years, the School struggled with funding.
The Tuition Fee Free Education (TFF) Policy compounded the problem when parents were told that the National Government would pay, in full, tuition and maintenance costs for schools in the country.
Under the TFF policy, the infrastructure funds are paid to Districts which then distribute the funds to schools. District officials told parents at a school meeting, those funds have not been received since 2013.
Huonville’s Principal, Mr. Willie Vilakiva, said the school’s records show that there was no money for maintenance paid to the school accounts since 2013.
So why weren’t the funds paid? No satisfactory answers have been forthcoming.
Mr. Vilakiva is a veteran teacher who taught numerous generations students in Morobe over the years (me and my siblings included). He has seen the good days of education and now, with TFF, he has virtually no funds to rebuild a school that is literally crumbling.
Five weeks ago, parents and teachers raised K20,000 and began building 14 temporary classrooms. On Sunday (20/05/18), gravel was put onto the floors and on Monday, the kids carried their desks into the classrooms to begin school.
These are the realities that we have to contend with.
The TFF isn’t working as it should, there is a shortage of funds and the contractors tasked with the delivery of school materials aren’t getting the job done efficiently.
You can ask Huonville and other schools, and they will tell you the same story.
On the positive side, the parents and teachers showed that they could do the seemingly difficult with very limited funding. In five weeks, all the classrooms were completed.
Parents who worked for Barlow Industries sought and got a company donation of iron sheeting and other materials for the construction.
Later after much publicity, the Morobe Provincial Government, provided emergency funding of K100,000.
Huonville still needs to replace the condemned classrooms and they need more than K4 million to do that.