Education head sacked

PAPUA New Guinea’s Education Secretary Michael Tapo has been sacked by the National Executive Council over mismanagement in his department.
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The Education Department's mishandling of the government's Tuition Free Fee (TFF) policy, which has increased primary and secondary school enrolments, has been cited by PNG media as the reason for the removal.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said a leadership change was necessary, and that complaints made by parents, failure to produce clear enrolment figures and measures to counter misuse have raised questions about the department's ability to implement the policy.

According to PNG Mirror, a report made public by former MP Paru Aihi has cast a further shadow on the Education Department's handling of the TFF policy, in particular the allegation that student and teacher numbers had been bumped up to increase TFF allocation in the budget.

Issues relating to a large number of claims lodged by service providers and contractors have also contributed to the department's woes with The National reporting payments amounted to K2.3 million ($A 1.08 million).

While announcing his government's intent to fund a Tertiary Education Fund to graduates at the University of PNG in April, O'Neill said there was no excuse for incompetence and mismanagement or "reason to divert or misuse money meant for educating our children".

"Sadly today we hear and read about schools not receiving sufficient funds to keep schools open. This is despite the fact that we have successfully funded the schools in the last three years," he said.

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