PNG PM O'Neill highlights free education | Pacific Beat

PNG PM O'Neill highlights free education

PNG PM O'Neill highlights free education

Updated 15 February 2012, 12:18 AEDT

The Papua New Guinea government says it will subsidise the cost of education for children from elementary to tertiary institutions in the country by next year.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill announced this at the University of PNG, whilst receiving a petition calling on the government to prioritise tertiary education.

Presenter: Firmin Nanol

Speaker: Prime Minister Peter O'Neill of PNG; Bill Minjikul, University of PNG students Association representative; Professor Ross Hynes, Vice Chancellor of the University of PNG

NANOL: Mr O'Neill says government officials have estimated the cost of educating children from elementary to grades 12 through to tertiary institutions to be over 296 million Australian dollars.

He says half of that money will be allocated in a supplementary budget to be announced early next month, when parliament resumes.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says the government will allocate the other half in the 2012 national budget.

O'NEILL: Starting in January next year education will be free from elementary class to grade 10, as for grades 11 and 12 the government will provide 75 per cent school subsidy. Our education authorities have given us the costs of providing that free education between 610-million to 700-million kina for next year. To show our commitment and determination our government will provide 350-million kina in education trust account that will be set up just after passing of the supplementary budget next week. Unlike in the past we will also allow the government accounting system to remain open so that it facilitates for the opening of the academic year in a proper manner.

NANOL: Mr O'Neill has also announced the government will abolish the Outcome Based Education System called OBE.

He says it has failed the standard of student learning and is not appropriate for PNG schools.

O'NEILL: We will do away with the Outcome Based Education System by January. It is a system that has failed, must be scrapped without further delay.

NANOL: Prime Minister O'Neill has promised the reintroduction of an abandoned National Scholarship Scheme, where government will meet the costs for all students attending colleges and tertiary institutions.

However, he has cautioned students not to misuse their scholarships.

O'NEILL: To accept National Scholarship Scheme it must be done with a sense of responsibility. That means you use the scholarship and you allow students to gain good education. The government will not tolerate students who use their scholarships to become nuisance to society. Tertiary institutions will monitor student behaviour to enforce that scholarship and allowances are not misused, and that those are going to be the conditions of the National Scholarship program. We must build a council of serious learning and the scholarships at the universities must facilitate for that learning environment. My government will demand zero tolerance on alcohol consumption on all education campuses throughout the country.

NANOL: Under the current system called Higher Education Scholarship Scheme - or HECAS, the government pays the fees according to grades students score in their area of studies and those who score below average pay their own fees.

The University of PNG students have welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement.

Spokesperson Bill Minjikul says the government has taken the right move in investing in education.

MINJIKUL: I beg the O'Neill government to pay more attention to universities which are almost falling apart. Therefore I would like to encourage my leaders to invest more in education if this nation is to be a happy, wealthy, healthy and wise nation one day soon. On this note I would like to thank the Prime Minister because we've already seen and heard in the media that he has free education from grade one to 10 nationwide, subsidised education by 75 per cent at tertiary institutions.

NAOL: The Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Ross Hynes thanked the government's foresight and commitment to higher education in the country.

HYNES: If we are clever we can get good answers, if we are wise we ask the right questions. A knowledge society can push the frontiers of scholarship and research. Economic development in a knowledge society can develop ongoing skills, employment opportunities and social cohesion.

NANOL: Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has also promised a funding of more than 1 million dollars for the University's student Computer project.

Firmin Nanol-Port Moresby.

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