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TFF – The Other Side of the Coin

Since the Government’s announcement of a 50% reduction in the Tuition Fee Free education program last week, much of those on social media have welcomed the news positively.  Those applauding the move have backed their

Since the Government’s announcement of a 50% reduction in the Tuition Fee Free education program last week, much of those on social media have welcomed the news positively.  Those applauding the move have backed their support by arguing that the previous program made parents lazy.  That a lot of reliance was placed on the Government thus parents took little to no responsibility.  But not all are in support it seems and those against the new policy have a genuine reason to back their argument.

 

Lydia Cuma PNG is one of those that’s gobsmacked by the announcement of abolishing the free education. Pointing to the UN Declaration of Human Rights of Children for which PNG is a signatory, every child has a right to education.

 

She says the recent announcement has basically taken away a fundamental right of a child.

 

“They gave thousands of children who could not benefit from an education the chance to do so with the introduction of a basic human right and then without any consultation with the nation, just tore it back off them”.

 

Not everyone is capable of paying education and Lydia who has spent much time in the settlements knows exactly the hardships those living in settlements will face.

 

But it’s not just those living in settlements will be affected.  With wage rates unable to keep up with the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services even those who are lucky to not reside in settlements will be significantly affected by what she sees as a sudden and “no consultation” announcement.

 

Targeting what she terms as the elites:

…the vast majority of PNG’s are not in such a privileged position as you are.  In fact, they are living in poverty…in more ways than one.

 

Many of those in support of the abolishment of free education have further argued on the issue of poverty that those struggling in the city should return back to their village and work their land.   Lydia believes this is a fallacy and she is correct in her counter-argument on this point.

if they went back to the village and worked in the garden, they would be well off, is exactly that, a fallacy.  It is not true…why are thousands flooding into the urban areas looking for education, services, jobs healthcare.

 

There is a far bigger issues at hand.  No jobs and lack of opportunities are the main reasons Lydia argues as to why people are moving to cities in search for greener pastures.  Even those already in the city are being starved off with opportunities so there is no such a thing as being “lazy” for those unable to meet school fees.

 

Could the recent  direction be seen as an excuse to cover up your elected member’s failure to provide the services they have been tasked with.  If the districts had well looked after clinics, hospitals and schools upgraded and equipped with necessary tools, reasonable paid job opportunities then perhaps there would be less of an influx into urban areas.

 

Even those within the city, if there were better job opportunities and wage rates were at reasonable levels where citizens were reasonably comfortable with their living standards then perhaps parents would complain little about the recent announcement.  But under present circumstances, those affected, and quite a good number of them do seem quite “helpless”.

 

Does it seem like Education has been used as a scapegoat for the failure to undertake the core responsibilities of the elected members?

 

To be fair to the current Government, these are challenging times with Government debt at unprecedented levels.  So the Government has been brave like any business would do to cut costs.  But could the cutting have been done somewhere else and not at a right which has been declared by the UN Declaration of Human Rights?

 

What are your thoughts.

[PIC: Hagara Elementary School]

 

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