The Chairman of the Morobe Head Teachers and Principals conference says long term planning has become difficult for schools in the Morobe Province due to the uncertainty of government funding.
Christopher Raymond, who is also the Principal of Lae Secondary, told EMTV News they are not able to plan large infrastructure projects and be sure that government funding will come in time.
“TFF money comes in dribs and drabs,” he said. “There is no guarantee that funds will come on time and it affects long term infrastructure planning.”
Despite the Tuition Fee Free Policy, many principals are having difficulty keeping their schools open. This is because TFF Funds have seen a decrease since the first year of implementation in 2013.
2016 was perhaps the most difficult year for education institutions in Morobe. Many schools didn’t get the full amounts promised for the TFF.
“This year, we got K170,000. Our projected expenditure is in the order of K3 million. Previously, we could manage because parents paid fees.”
Lae Secondary is one of the bigger schools in Lae City with over 1,000 students. Until, 2013, parents paid K1,200 per students for lower grades and K1,600 for grades 11 and 12.
The school was relatively self-sufficient raising close to a million kina every year internally before seeking funding from government sources.
When the Tuition Fee Free policy came into effect in 2013, the fees required from parents were slashed by half as per the policy.
Chris Raymond is only one of a handful of principals who have spoken out about the funding shortage.
Many other principals and head teachers have raised similar concerns but are too afraid to speak out publicly for fear of disciplinary action by provincial and national education authorities.
But those who have spoken out have made no secret of the fact that they are indeed, having difficulty.
“We cannot commit a contractor unless we have the money,” said Sam Nalong, the Head teacher of Markham Road Primary.