GTFS : PARENTS WILL PAY AS MUCH AS THE GOVERNMENT

by Roland Katak

In this post I argue, from evidence, that the proportion of school fees the parents will pay is about the same as that the government will pay given the parents will also pay the project and church fees.

The Marape-Steven Government (MSG) has change the previous O'Neill Govt's (OG) Tuition Free Education (TFF) policy to Tuition Fee Subsidy ((TFS). The words themselves signify both the meaning and implementation.

OG's TFF required no financial input from parents. The word "free" was adamantly enforced including no allowance for schools to charge project fees and school boards and executives threatend with suspension on legal action. (I've not heard of any actual incidences though).

The word "subsidy" (as against "free") is key to understanding better the MSG's edict on who pays for education. And this is why parents are required to pay, what seems to be, a lesser portion of the fees and schools are allowed to charge project fees and churches are allowed to collect agency fees.

I will only discuss the TFS for elementary, primary, day and boarding fees for lower and upper secondary and vocational and FODE and SERC or special education. For the last two there are no project and church fees.

When generally rounding off the numbers the Govt would pay 63% of the fees and the parents would pay the 37%. But if project and church fees were included, except for CERC and FODE, parents would be paying on average 58% of the fees, about the same amount as what the Goverment.

Let's have a look at each sector starting with elementary. Note that church fees are payable only by students who attend solely church run schools.

For ELEMENTARY the set GSF is K110 of which the Govt. would pay K70 and parents would pay K40. But if project (K20) and church (K5) fees are included then the parents pay K65, making their contribution 59% and not 37%.

For PRIMARY the MSG set fee (GSF) is K297 of which the Govt. would pay K188 and parents would pay K108. But if project fee of K60)m and church fee of K7 are included then the parents pay K176, making their contribution 59% and not 37%.

For LOWER SECONDARY DAY STUDENTS the MSG set fee (GSF) is K990 of which the Govt. would pay K627 and parents would pay K363. But if project fee of K220 and church fee of K10 are included then the parents would pay K593, making their contribution 60% and not 37%.

For LOWER SECONDARY BOARDING STUDENTS (grades 9 and 10) the MSG set fee (GSF) is K1650 of which the Govt. would pay K1,045 and parents would pay K605. But if project fee of K220 and church fee of K10 are included then the parents would pay K835, making their contribution 51% and not 37%.

For UPPER SECONDARY DAY STUDENTS (grades 11 and 12) the MSG set fee (GSF) is K1,089 of which the Govt. would pay K690 and parents would pay K399. But if project fee of K220 and church fee of K10 are included then the parents would pay K629, making their contribution 58% and not 37%.

For UPPER SECONDARY BOARDING STUDENTS (grades 11 and 12) the MSG set fee (GSF) is K1,749 of which the Govt. would pay K1,108 and parents would pay K691. But if project fee of K220 and church fee of K10 are included then the parents would pay K871, making their contribution 50% and not 37%.

For VOCATIONAL DAY STUDENTS the MSG set fee (GSF) is K990 of which the Govt. would pay K627 and parents would pay K363. But if project fee of K200 and church fee of K10 are included then the parents would pay K573, making their contribution 58% and not 37%.

For VOCATIONAL BOARDING STUDENTS the MSG set fee (GSF) is K1,430 of which the Govt. would pay K906 and parents would pay K524. But if project fee of K200 and church fee of K10 are included then the parents would pay K734, making their contribution 70% and not 37%.

For FODE STUDENTS the MSG set fee (GSF) is K110 of which the Govt. would pay K70 and parents would pay K40. There is no project fee and church fee so the govt is paying its 63% and the parents their 37%.

For SERC (Special Education) STUDENTS the MSG set fee (GSF) is K200 of which the Govt. would pay K127 and parents would pay K73. There is no project fee and church fee so the govt is paying its 63% and the parents their 37%.

The above is analyzed from the MSG and the Educ. Dept's full page advertisement on the GTFS policy in the print media (e.g. The National 29/01/2920, p.16). There are a few (though not the only) questions that I have with this policy and deserves our discussion and input by Govt/DoE to clarify, including:

a) There has been talk of Early Childhood Education (ECE) for 4-6 year olds to start this year (2020). But the policy position advertised retains Elementary which is funded. I'm concerned this ECE is not mentioned at all in the policy advertised because surely the number of age 4-6 cohort is way more than 7-year old eligible to start elemrntary.

b) I read somewhere about ALSO including grades 8-10 in the HELP, the student loan scheme. While this is a good idea the challenges of profit oriented financial institutions versus parents without proper legal assets, including ILG-ed land, to approve such loan would currently be a huge challenge for lending institutions and I suspect will lead to more rejected loan application than accepted ones. Rejects mean denying a child education. There are countless other issues relating to this, issues not about HELP succeeding via institutionalized financial help, but about the preparedness and awareness of all the issues prior to starting it. I advise taking a year to consider all issues prior to starting HELP in 2021.

c) Further re HELP some national leaders are already coming up with good ideas on terms and conditions to utilise HELP. For instance, Hon. John Simon, MP for Maprik is using his existing initiatives in economic zones etc as a condition for accessing such loans by students. And conditional on having 625 cocoa trees. Challenges with this include acceptability of such arrangement by NDB especially on how to recover the loan funds on land not formally recognised. All I can say is the ideas are good, the feasibility so so and its operations really require selected pilots before implementing on a mass scale. That's why a year or two to prepare and iron out the potential pitfalls will help.

d) My contention is that the number of participants should influence the financial resource allocations.

e) Too many good ideas without working out their workability, especially with two years to 2020 may be dire.

But then this confusion and rush is auspicious for those of us who'd use such dissatisfaction from the public to clear our path to the haus tamberan in 30 months time.

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