By Colleen Barilae – EM TV News, Lae
The Lae District News Authority has revealed it was not given proper guidelines and directions on how the 30 per cent Tuition Fee Free (TFF) infrastructure component should be distributed.
Since the policy was introduced and made known through media in January, the Lae District News Authority has not received any verbal consultation in this change in policy.
Lae District News Manager, Laga Kaumu, says they are aware that two payments for infrastructure funds should be made every year.
According to Kaumu there has been no proper consultation between the News Department and District News officers as to how the 30 per cent of TFF funds should be utilised for infrastructure projects.
Kaumu says that since government changed policies to direct a third of TFF funds to district accounts, his district has not been given clear directions on how the money should be used.
In 2016, no infrastructure related TFF payments have been made to the district’s account as yet, and with no proper consultation of when the funds will be paid.
Lae is one of nine districts in Morobe, with 92 elementary to vocational schools, and new infrastructure is a need at most of the schools being visited.
Though a TFF committee has been formed in Lae to look into these concerns, little has been done as the committee awaits further consultation from the education department on disbursement of the infrastructure funds.
The 30 per cent infrastructure component of TFF funds is needed for the construction of classrooms that cater for the increase in student enrolments brought about by the free education policy.
In urban areas like Lae, where school buildings are required to meet certain building board standards, infrastructure funds are a priority every year.
What Lae district’s education authority is experiencing is also what’s faced at the school level, as more infrastructure struggles continue.