Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


John Roughan: Free Primary Educatio & Re-Election!

Free Primary Education And Re-Election!


John Roughan
18 January 2005
Honiara
jroughan@solomon.com.sb

At last a major step towards investing in village life is close up to becoming reality. Investing in Basic Education (at least at the primary schooling level, if not yet adult learning) strands to get a much needed funding boost. We are officially informed that this year and the following years the government will invest more than $160 for each primary student's schooling. What great news! However, this wonderful news has been muddled up by politicians mixing their re-election bids with our kids education.

For the first time that I can remember, the Ministry of Education has begun to reverse an education policy as old as the nation itself. Since its earliest days Solomon Islands invested its education dollar on university students and less, much less, on primary school students. In 2004, for instance, Solomons' 75,000 primary school children received much less than half of what the country's 2,500 post secondary students absorbed.

In fact even today Solomons' Kindy children pay higher education fees than do primary, secondary and tertiary students. As a child climbs the education ladder fees become less and less--in terms of hours spent in class, trained teaching staff and classroom accommodation--until a student entering USP, UPNG or other universities, pays nothing. Government's current policy of earmarking direct funding for primary schooling is a most welcome, if decades delayed, step.

But as with so much that will happen in Solomons in 2005, parliamentarian re-election bids are set to confuse people. First of all, as the PS of the Ministry of Education states correctly there's no such thing as FREE education no matter what a politician declares. Someone, somewhere, somehow must foot the bill for this most expensive exercise called education. Yes, let's be thankful that the government is finally coming to its senses and plans to assist with about $160 for each primary school child this year. But know well this new policy is as much about politicians seeking re-election as it is about bringing quality education to our kids.

For some schools, particularly on the village level, the $160 grant will be pure manna from heaven. For other schools, however, those in town, for instance, this grant doesn't begin to cover half the school's yearly costs for electricity, water, repair and maintenance, communications, staff salaries of security guards, secretarial help, cleaners, teacher aids, insurance, teacher accommodation, new classroom buildings, etc. etc. That is why all urban schools will still need parents to contribute funds to make the school hum well.

Not a single headmaster or primary school principal, however, has received a penny of the money politicians promised although schools across the nation have already opened their doors. Many principals recall only too vividly what happened in 2002 when the same government also promised to make secondary schools fee free. To this day government sent not a penny to a single secondary school.

Will this happen again this year? I don't think so but public statements of "free primary school education" and the reality of no money in the hands of school authorities makes for confusion. Many a headmaster will rightly demand parents pay school fees when their doors open for business this week. School authorities need funds up front and once the promised government money does appear, then there will be a refund. But that's a poor way to start off the school year!

The country's education sector, by far our biggest, most important and most expensive industry, needs preparation, planning and heaps of hard work to make it a success. It employs thousands of workers--teachers, administrators, school personnel--, its clients, almost 90,000 young people, are the nation's future hope and this industry needs millions and millions of dollars yearly investment if it is to function well. Hence, preparation, planning and hard slogging work on how to best invest millions of dollars, not mere political statements, are the order of the day.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news