WE ARE going into the third week of this eight-week election campaign before polling in Papua New Guinea’s general election commences.
Unlike previous elections, this election appears more sedate. Social media is playing an important role with almost all political parties advertising their messages on Facebook and using social media more effectively.
The ruling People’s National Congress has reportedly spent much money disseminating information about its polices in social and mainstream media.
One of the PNC’s major pitches is the free education policy. It implemented this policy in office and it proved to haves weaknesses.
In what looks like a counter attack, opposition leader Don Polye on behalf of his THE party seemed to write a political suicide note by saying he will scrap the free education policy and introduce “compulsory and subsidised education”.
THE party’s policy will make it compulsory to attend school and for parents to pay fees up to Grade 12. But technical and university education will be free.
Prime minister O’Neill condemned the opposition saying this was a reckless policy that would set the country back, reverse development and undermine economic growth.
“This is the most reckless opposition campaign to be seen in elections for a long time,” he said.
“These opposition policies would hurt families, will see people miss out on education and have funding decisions taken away from the local level and returned to Waigani bureaucrats.
“How could anyone think that ending free education could be a good thing?”
Under PNC’s policy there are more children going to school but this has seen an increase in class sizes – many of which have doubled - Grade 8, 10 and 12 dropouts. These young people add to the already large number of unemployed youths and unskilled labourers.
So PNC’s free education policy looked good in a short-term but is creating difficult issues in its implementation.
THE Party’s education policy puts pressure on poor parents to pay fees to send their children to school. This is a tough policy but in the long-term will benefit the country largely by adequately financing schools and easing the burden of paying fees for higher education and colleges.
Compulsory education will produce a literate population. Today, even though education is free, many young people do not go to school and roam the streets.
Every country needs good policy on education and it seems Polye’s policy will benefit PNG in the years to come and O’Neill’s policy will just lead PNG into social, economic and employment problems.
It’s my personal view that Polye’s policy is what PNG needs and it speaks with more maturity than O’Neill’s program, which lacks sustainability.