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Free Education Policy: A Policy in Despair and Corruption

By CASPER DAMIEN
When the current government introduces the Free Education Policy when it came to power after General Election in 2012, it was kind of relieve and add smiles to the parents of all children in PNG. The parents were happy that their children’s fees will be paid by the government.
The introduction of free education policy means all school fees for children who are attending government schools from Elementary to Grade 12 will be paid by the government. In other words parents will not pay any more school fees. All will be taken care by the government.    
Whether the free education policy is good or bad in the country is something for everyone to debate about. On the same note, whether this policy is a controversy or not, is something the government has to revisit and reconsider its decision. If the government thinks this policy is the best policy available to promote free education for all children and to ease the parents’ burden of difficulty in paying children’s fee than it is fair enough.
However, on the other hand this policy was implemented without wider consultation from the public of the policy’s advantages and disadvantages, it demonstrated a weakness of discontinuity. In fact, it was government sudden policy which came into effect without much debate of the pros and cons of the policy itself. There was no wider consultant on the issue.
One thing that really comes out clear and obvious now with this policy is the government political agenda of promoting such policy to make the wider population including the parents are happy so the government will be still in power. If this policy is politically driven with hidden motive, the big losers are the thousand children of this country because this policy alone is not meant for long term solution for human resource problem in the country.
One must remember that policies are made for particular time and venue and they exist for certain period and once they serve their purpose they are than gone and out. In that very same fashion, no government, in political history of PNG, has lasted for two or more terms. Every government that comes into power has its own policy, and mind you, whether this policy will continue after this government in 2017 General Election is something all to think seriously about such policy whether it is good or bad.  
The policy has many disadvantages that have to be made known to public and parents. With the growing number of children in schools, many schools have complained that there aren’t many spaces for children in the class rooms. The schools infrastructures are in total mess without any upgrading to cater for the intake of the children. And many parents have complained that students were sent home because of the non-availability of spaces. It was difficult to transfer children to other schools because these schools have the same problem.
There is no logic at all behind this policy. How can the policy of free education influx students in each school in the country, when the government cannot upgrade schools existing infrastructures and build new infrastructures to cater for this policy. It is like putting the “cart before the horse”. Simply, with this policy, the government has messed up everything and the surging surfaces of the negative impact are already felt by both parents and students and also for schools.
It is like a quick fix or a quick solution to a problem that is imminent without deep planning for its negative consequences.  Obviously, it is a policy that has a short term benefit without success. It is a tactic or trick employed by the current government to achieve its own political agenda. The political agenda of the government is to stay in power or serve its full term until next general election in 2017. It is to just please the parents and other general public that the government with this policy is the best possible answer to easing parents’ burden in paying school fees. But it has backfired with millions of Kina into the wrong hands; ghost schools, ghost teachers, ghost board of management. Hence, the current government’s free education policy is not the best policy to produce human development in PNG. It only serves the current government political agenda.
Many have voiced that this policy is bad for PNG and it is rightly true with the current state that parents, children, and schools have faced with. Many like-minded people have expressed concern that this policy is really a concept of mass production of cheap and unqualified bulk of human resources in the country without proper education.
Interestingly, this policy of free education promotes day light corruption with millions of Kina deposited for school have disappeared into the hands of wrong people. What a pity, when the government, Education Minister and Chief Secretary to the government are currently crying for investigation and wanted to know where about the missing millions of Kina. One can already see that this is the result of the poor planning and executing a policy that is not workable in PNG. Who is to blame for current adverse situations where schools are closing up early because they do not have enough promised government funds. The government can defend its free education policy but it will still head towards failure because the current government has lack proper planning and its long term benefits for the children of PNG.
In all, for the best interest of the new generation of children in the country, it is better to scrape this policy for good because it makes parents lazy. Further the policy itself becomes like a cargo cult idea where all parents are waiting for government to solve all their school fees problems. In any democratic country, a democratic government always represents its citizen’s aspiration and needs and always develops policies and laws that work towards the good of the citizens. Ironically, if this free education policy is bad for PNG’s citizens why keep this bad policy when the country’s generation are suffering.