Social Concerns Notes – December 2014

Hospital lost K380,000 after applying health policy

The National, Thursday November 27th, 2014

THE Nonga General Hospital in East New Britain has lost about K380,000 in revenue since the free and subsidised health care policy came into effect, hospital board chairman Nakikus Konga says. He figured the loss over a year during the launch of renovated building facilities at the hospital on Tuesday. Konga said Nonga, which served the province and New Guinea Islands region, was not being fairly allocated funds from the K20 million free health services subsidy this year. He said Nonga started to implement the new policy last year but this subsequently reduced the internal revenue for the hospital. He said the hospital management was forced to look into other financial sources to maintain and provide public health care to the people when medical fees were abolished as a result of the policy. “These funds have been released very late and I therefore urge the government to release these funds in a timely manner and re-look at the formula or criteria used to allocate these subsidies so that there is equal and fair allocation to each health facility,” Konga said.

Saved from jaws of death

THREE elderly women in Enga Province were rescued from the grips of certain death on Friday, accused of sorcery. Police intervened in a kangaroo court proceeding which would have condemned the trio to torture and likely burning at the stakes. The killings would have sparked another public outcry and global outrage, similar to that of 20-year-old Kepari Leniata who was stripped, tied up, doused in petrol and burned alive in Mt Hagen in February last year. The killing prompted Parliament to enact tougher penalties on sorcery-related killings. The three women, from Teremanda village, were being tortured at a creek following the death of a man whom the relatives claimed was killed through sorcery by the trio. They were tied, beaten and taken to a creek where they were forced into the water, where the villagers demanded the three admit their “guilt” and return the dead man’s heart which they claimed had been removed. A relative of the women alerted the provincial police commander, acting Superintendent George Kakas, who ordered a mobile squad to enter the village and rescue the three women. Wabag police station commander Inspector Epenes Nili led a force of three police vehicles to the village and managed to rescue the women who were about to be killed. However, the villagers blocked the road and threatened to harm the policemen unless the three were released. In a standoff lasting several hours, the police refused to release the women, saying it would be over their (policemen) dead bodies. The villagers finally relented, handing over the dead man for a post mortem.

Bishop Thanks PPC Of Wabag For Saving Women Accused Of Sorcery

On behalf of the Catholic Church in Enga Province and Papua New Guinea I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your policemen. You confronted the people of Teremanda in the Enga Province and saved 3 defenseless women who were accused of sorcery or sanguma. You have rightly mentioned on December 1st Post Courier that the people of Enga knew no Sanguma or nor did they practice sorcery before. Where does this come from? It is either pure jealousy, or it is used as a means to accuse people for revenge. People are still ignorant and would not want to accept that people can die any time through sickness or damage done to their body. Even healthy people can die of sicknesses. The best place to seek an answer is from a postmortem at the hospital.

There are evidential reports from many parts of Papua New Guinea of sorcery or sanguma related accusations, tortures and killings. The accused are often women who are vulnerable and defenseless. People live and run around aimlessly and take pleasure in accusing, torturing and even killing them. No one is there to defend these defenseless women. It is saddening to hear and experience such brutal killings. In this age and time we cannot continue to act and behave like barbaric people who have no respect for life and kill to protect their territories.

We have laws of the country that govern us. We have the Christian faith that also determines our way of life in following Jesus: proclaiming his truth and living his life. Respect for life should be in the conscience of all people regardless of who that person is. Torturing and killing innocent and defenseless people is exactly like crucifying Jesus on Calvary for nothing. God has given us this life as a gift and we should respect it and only God can take it back. He does not give us the permission to take away the lives of others, even the unborn, the disabled, the criminals, the unwanted, the sick, and even those who have no cure, etc.

I encourage all our citizens not to get into this bad habit of accusing innocent and defenseless people of sorcery, resulting in torturing and killing. This is a moral evil that should not be practiced. It also gives a bad image of this country and its people. We are seen and regarded by many as a good and warm hearted people living in this part of the world. So let’s promote the good side of our lives and Country and do away with the bad practices.

Bishop Arnold Orowae

President, Catholic Bishops Conference

Girls, 10, selling sex

The National, Wednesday December 3rd, 2014

A REPORT on child labour in the country says children entered the sex trade from as young as 10 years. The report is on the rapid assessment in Port Moresby on commercial sexual exploitation of children and children working on the streets based on a survey conducted between Dec 2010 and Jan 2011 by the University of South Pacific, National Research Institute and the Young Women’s Christian Association. A total 175 children participated and 161 of them were interviewed using questionnaires. Most of the children interviewed were 17 years old, the youngest was 12 and 90% of the children interviewed were young girls. “The most common age at which children entered sex work was 15 years (34%) but some of the children entered into commercial sexual exploitation from as young as 10years of age,” the report said. “Forty-one per cent of the children were sex workers before the age of 15, which indicates that children enter the sex trade from a very young age.” In terms of their residences; 61% lived with their families, 20% on their own and 7% with their friends. The most common reason for leaving their original residential areas was because of family problems. The survey found that some children were living in guest houses and operating as sex workers.

Judge upset over lack of help

Post Courier, December 05, 2014

JUSTICE Stephen Kassman has expressed disappointment over the lack of co-operation by the general public in Western Highlands and Jiwaka and leaders of two Highlands provinces in coming forward with information into the death of Leniata Kepari. Kepari, 20, was tortured, stripped, doused with petrol and burnt alive in Mt Hagen early last year after being accused of sorcery.

Justice Kassman, who initiated this case as human rights inquiry in the National Court in Mt Hagen, said yesterday the case of February 7, 2013, was a matter of public concern, which sparked outrage within and at international fronts yet people, including lawyers, were not coming forward with information to assist in the inquiry he had set up.

He said he had not set up this enquiry to prosecute or assert liability on anyone. “This proceeding I set up is to enforce the rights of people provided for in the Constitution, including the late Leniata Kepari,” the judge said. Justice Kassman convened the inquiry at the Waigani National Court at 1:30 pm yesterday, expecting individuals and organisations, especially leaders and lawyers from Western Highlands and Enga provinces, to come with any information that may assist the inquiry but to no avail. Only two organisations turned up at the inquiry yesterday and provided statements and reports.

They are United Nations Human Rights Office in Port Moresby and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

UN Report: Poverty in PNG Unchanged

PNGLOOP, Dec 2nd, 2014

Despite the economic growth, PNG is unlikely to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals, a UNDP report has revealed. The report revealed that poverty levels in the country have stayed virtually the same as in 1996. Health, education, literacy and other human development indicators remain poor (and worse for women and girls in virtually every sphere) and while Papua New Guinea still has significant forestry, marine and other environmental resources – these are under threat. This report addresses a question of importance for the country – how to use the significant wealth from the extractives industries (oil, gas and mining) and translate this into meaningful human development for citizens across the country? The report also notes that Papua New Guinea has experienced 14 years of consecutive economic growth – something very few countries have experienced. “But now we are seeing what is known as a ‘paradox of plenty’– a situation where the country’s resource wealth is not effectively translated into increased opportunities and capabilities for citizens. “This is especially apparent for the large majority in rural areas, and particularly for vulnerable and marginalised segments of society, including women, children, elderly, youth, people suffering from long-term illnesses, and those living with disabilities. In 2013 the country was 156th out of 187 countries on the Global Human Development Index (HDI).The report said that although the Government’s Vision 2050 document stated that PNG aims to be in the top 50 of the HDI by the year 2050 – it is hard to have confidence that the country will achieve this given the past track record. The Report “2014 National Human Development Report for Papua New Guinea’’ was launched last week in Port Moresby.

Partnership Key to People’s Wellbeing

The National, Dec 1st, 2014

The partnership between the Government and development agencies is the key to improving the wellbeing of the people, United Nations Development Programme resident representative Roy Trivedy said during the launching of the 2014 National Human Development Report in Port Moresby last week. The report said wealth from extractive industries had the potential to boost the wellbeing of people. But the country’s development could be undermined if resources were not used in economically, socially and environmentally sustainable ways. It stated that almost 40% of the country’s population continued to live on less than one dollar per day despite strong economic growth as a result of extractive industries such as oil, gas and mining.

It stated that 25% of children were not attending schools.

Two out three women and girls experienced gender-based violence.

The report focused around four pillars:

Good governance and accountability;

People centred exploration and extraction;

Prudent revenue collection and management; and,

Investment in human, physical, financial and social capital.

Trivedy said progress was made by the actions that were taken. He said these actions would come not only from Government but from partners and citizens in a holistic approach. “The country is starting to grow on the back of policies but at the moment PNG is ranked 156 out 187 (countries) and it has a long way to go,” he said.

Corruption in Public Office Biggest Challenge: TI

PNGLOOP, Dec 4th, 2014

Corruption in the public sector remains one of the biggest challenges in the country despite PNG having some of the best rules and laws in the world. Chairman of Transparency International PNG Lawrence Stephens says the biggest problem we continue to face is the lack of the enforcement of these laws. As TIPNG released its 2014 Corruption Perception Index, he says there is little to no accountability by those who fail to follow the rule of law in dealing with State assets and decisions.

“The public sector corruption threatens to undermine national development incentives and each year when the Corruption Perception Index is released, we hear objectives to the PNG score and ranking.”

Stephens went on to say that even statistics from TI PNG’s corruption complaints desk confirms that corruption within the public sector remains one of PNG’s biggest challenges. This sees complaints to TIPNG particularly in the areas of public procurement and administration, land and property, political parties, police and justice systems. “Change will occur when public institutions are more open about their work and officials more transparent in their decision making,” he says.

PNG among most corrupt countries

Post Courier, December 04, 2014

PAPUA New Guinea continues to be perceived as one of the worlds most corrupt countries, according to Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perception Index (CPI). The CPI report revealed that abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to destroy sustainable development. PNG scored 25 out of 100 for the third consecutive year with 100 perceived as “very clean” and zero perceived to be “highly corrupt”. This means PNG was well below the world average of 43 and was ranked 145 out of the 175 countries surveyed.

The CPI is a combination of data collected by 12 reputable organisations and reflects the views of observers from around the world, including experts living and working in the countries evaluated.

TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens said at the report launching in Port Moresby yesterday that the 2014 CPI report presented another challenge to the country. Mr Stephens stated that PNG has some of the best rules and laws in the world but the biggest problem continues to be the lack of proper enforcement of the law.

Corruption hinders growth: Archbishop

The National, Wednesday December 10th, 2014

CORRUPTION is still the killer disease which is hindering well-intended developments in PNG, the Catholic Diocese of Port Moresby Archbishop John Ribat says. Referring to Transparency International PNG’s report on the level of corruption in the country, Ribat said many things were happening for the benefit of the nation, but the country needed a good mechanism to make sure that corrupt practices and behaviour did not stop or destroy good planning and budgeting by the government. Ribat said the only way to put a stop to the corrupt practices and behaviour was for every individual to be honest with oneself in whatever they did. Ribat said people must start to promote good values like respect, honesty, unity and common good for the nation and its citizen to see a drop in the level of corruption taking place.

The challenges of fighting corruption in Papua New Guinea

Sam Koim | Devpolicy Blog

MY story is not unique. Stories like mine are unfortunately replicated across far too many countries.

I have dedicated the last few years to combatting corruption in PNG. My journey, though dangerous at times, and uncomfortable and unpleasant for my family, has been personally rewarding in ways that I could never have imagined. The challenges of combating corruption in a resource rich, communal, yet diverse cultural setting such as PNG, are multifaceted. Here I outline some key factors that make the fight against corruption in PNG challenging. The first challenge is cultural. In PNG the big man syndrome – the perception that leaders in responsible government positions are beyond reproach because of their elevated status in society – shapes relationships.

There is also a lack of national consciousness. Many people think in groups, such as tribes, instead of as a country. Because of our communal living, an attack on an individual is seen as an attack on the group. Sometimes corruption rewards the group, hence the group is ready to defend the corrupter.

Others believe that corruption is a behavioural pattern that always appears as a consequence of institutional failure. Yes, that is true. But I see corruption as a behavioural pattern built over time because of a lack of foundational, values-based education. Corruption is a human condition, and we have to study how to train up a child in an appropriate way to respect himself and respect others and their property. People must be taught to do the right thing. PNG suffers from poor demand for accountability. Owing to the fact that the majority of Papua New Guineans are illiterate, there is little awareness of the public’s right to demand better goods and services.

…The structural changes required to address this situation requires a total re-think of the way that public funds are disbursed and services are delivered in PNG. Without a proper diagnosis of the causes of institutional failures, a new set of structural reforms that will subject the bureaucracy to more political control – including proposed reforms to allow MPs to appoint their own departmental heads – could be disastrous. Institutions of government need to be appropriately empowered with the necessary resources and skilled manpower to fight corruption.

…The fight against corruption cannot be successful without support from non-state actors. We need an independent and vibrant civil society, media and union organisations who provide unbiased criticism to corrupt activities. We need a group of civic-minded citizens who must rise-up and care enough to do something about the prevalence of corruption.

…We need to be clean: the corrupt cannot fight corruption. They will dig your grave and hunt you to your tomb. If you have no skeletons in your own closet, you will not fear anybody.

From my experience, when you raise the anti-corruption temperature in a country like PNG it starts to make people uncomfortable. If the temperature is too hot and you get a bit too close to the sun, you get burnt. PNG needs more men and women of courage to stand up for their country, even at a personal cost. Honesty can be costly, but you have to stay the course.

Sam Koim is chairman of the multi-agency, anti-corruption body Taskforce Sweep and Principal Legal Officer at the Department of Justice and Attorney General in Papua New Guinea


Taskforce Sweep faces closure

Post Courier, December 11, 2014

ANTI-corruption watchdog Task Force Sweep is on the verge of closing because it does not have money to continue operations. The K7 million appropriated this year for its operations had still not been released despite numerous requests. Task Force Sweep team, which had been successful in fighting corruption at the highest level, had been operating without funding for the whole of this year.

According to documents filed in court and obtained by the Post-Courier, Task Force Sweep had operated from funds left over from last year and it had exhausted these funds. In June this year, Task Force Sweep was disbanded by the National Executive Council after an arrest warrant was served on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill relating to the payments made to Paul Paraka Lawyers. Task Force Sweep had however, obtained a permanent stay order against the NEC decision which had allowed it to continue to operate to date. The court documents revealed that numerous attempts were made by the Acting Secretary for Finance Ken Ngangan and Secretary for Justice Lawrence Kalinoe to remove the financial powers of Task Force Sweep chairman Sam Koim. According to Mr Koim’s affidavit file, Mr Kalinoe had taken him off payroll in August this year. A contempt proceeding had been filed against Mr Kalinoe, Mr Ngangan, Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki and National Gaming Control Board chairman Leslie Hoffman for interfering with the court to issue an order for the release of the funding. A hearing date is yet to be allocated for the hearing.

Illegal Logging Wreaking Havoc on Impoverished Rural Communities

Customary landowners in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, both rainforest nations in the Southwest Pacific Islands, are suffering the environmental and social impacts of illegal logging. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Rampant unsustainable logging in the southwest Pacific Island states of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, where the majority of land is covered in tropical rainforest, is worsening hardship, human insecurity and conflict in rural communities. Paul Pavol, a customary landowner in Pomio District, East New Britain, an island province off the northeast coast of the Papua New Guinean mainland, told IPS that logging in the area had led to “permanent environmental damage of the soil and forests, which our communities depend on for their water, building materials, natural medicines and food.” Four years ago, a Malaysian logging multinational obtained two Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABLs) in the district, but local landowners claim their consent was never given and, following legal action, the National Court issued an order in November for the developer to cease logging operations. According to Global Witness, the company had cleared 7,000 hectares of forest and exported more than 50 million dollars worth of logs. “We never gave our free, prior and informed consent to the Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABLs) that now cover our customary land … and we certainly did not give agreement to our land being given away for 99 years to a logging company,” Pavol stated. One-third of log exports from PNG originated from land subject to SABLs in 2012, according to the PNG Institute of National Affairs, despite the stated purpose of these leases being to facilitate agricultural projects of benefit to local communities. Pavol also cited human rights abuses with “the use of police riot squads to protect the logging company and intimidate and terrorize our communities.” Last year an independent fact-finding mission to Pomio led by the non-governmental organisation, Eco-Forestry Forum, in association with police and government stakeholders, verified that police personnel, who had been hired by logging companies to suppress local opposition to their activities, had conducted violent raids and serious assaults on villagers.

In the neighbouring Solomon Islands, where 2.2 million hectares of forest cover more than 80 percent of the country, the timber-harvesting rate has been nearly four times the sustainable rate of 250,000 cubic metres per year. While timber has accounted for 60 percent of the country’s export earnings, this is unlikely to continue, given the forecast by the Solomon Islands Forest Management Project that accessible forests will be exhausted by next year.


Court orders extension to ban on Rimbunan Hijau logging in Pomio December 9, 2014

The National Court sitting in Kimbe has ordered an extension to the ban on any forest related activities by logging giant Rimbunan Hijau in its contested SABL lease areas in the Pomio District of East New Britain. The extension was ordered at a hearing on Monday. The original orders were granted on November 16 – as reported below. The matter will return to court later this month.

The Pomio SABLs are part of a wider land grab in PNG which has seen more than 5 million hectares of land taken from customary owners under 99 year leases. A Commission of Inquiry has condemned the leases as being fraudulent and unlawful but the government has not acted to stop logging companies operating in lease areas. In October, the National Forest Board renewed the logging permit for the Pomio SABLs despite widespread opposition from local landowners. In September, the elected ward councillors and other community representatives from the villages of Bairaman, Mauna and Lau, wrote to the National Forest Board requesting the forest clearance permit issued in 2010 not be renewed. When the Forest Board refused to listen to the landowners plea and elected instead to renew the logging permit the landowners turned to the courts for assistance. The court orders stop the National Forest Authority doing anything to give effect to the new logging permit and stops RH from conducting any logging or associated activities in Portions 196C or 197C or doing anything else in reliance on the new permit.


TB cases double in Kundiawa

The National, Monday December 8th, 2014

KUNDIAWA’S Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Hospital has warned of an alarming surge in the number of tuberculosis cases in the area. The hospital has described it as a “time bomb” waiting to explode. Cases have  more than doubled. The hospital’s chief surgeon, Fr Jan Jaworski, said the increase had reached epidemic level and showed reporters more than 40 patients in medical and TB wards. “Over the last two years, we have seen a sudden surge in TB cases. It has more than doubled. It’s a very dangerous trend. “We need government intervention very quickly. If we don’t establish good facilities with modern equipment and qualified personnel, we are heading for disaster.” Jorwaski appealed to the government for immediate action, “In fact, this epidemic is worse than HIV/AIDS,” Jaworski said. The hospital’s medical director Dr Harry Poka and chief executive officer Mathew Kaluvia said over two years ago, TB cases were rare with fewer than 10 annually but last week there were more than 40 such patients in the hospital. He said TB was the main cause of deaths in the hospital. “Most of these patients are young people and it’s a dangerous trend. The TB parasite spreads very fast and it can become ‘bushfire’, unlike HIV/AIDS. “We need to open our eyes and start acting. We need modern facilities and equipment with skilled staff. Poka called on Papua New Guineans to treasure their lives by opting for healthy lifestyles to eliminate diseases. He said there were many cases in the remote areas and appealed to those in authority to screen all family members before cases became severe.

City under siege as cops protest

Post Courier, December 09,2014, 02:12 am

BUSINESSES in the country’s third largest city Mt Hagen remained closed yesterday as policemen and women staged a protest through the main streets following the brutal death of a police senior constable on Saturday night.The protest, escorted by armed policemen, sent fear throughout the city with ignoring the show of force. Senior Constable Allan Ani was killed by passengers of a PMV bus after a light collision between the bus and police vehicle at Warakum. Police vehicles cladded in mud roamed the streets of Mt Hagen as an indication of mourning as well as frustration against the local Jika Milakimb tribe, who had been blamed for the death. Senior Const Ani, from West Sepik Province, has served the people of Western Highlands for many years and was attached to the police dog unit when he was attacked by the passengers, who were believed to be under the influence of alcohol.

Leaders from the Jika tribe promised to bring in the remaining suspects in the killing which included two women. Six people, including two women and the bus used in the murder are in police custody in Mt Hagen. On Sunday, police showed their frustration by felling shade trees and plants that lined the median strip in the city centre, spilled rubbish on the streets and discharged firearms.

Looters take over Pom City

Post Courier, December 08,2014, 01:00 pm

Port Moresby is becoming a ghost town as business houses close down in fear of looters.

Fear has gripped the nation’s capital after rumors that the police and the PNG Defense Force soldiers might clash again today. A confrontation between the two disciplinary forces  last Friday night, resulted in the looting of several shops around 4 Mile and 3 Mile and the wounding of soldiers and police men. Several cars were also burnt by opportunists as Boroko came under siege on Saturday morning. Public fear of  the possible confrontation has resulted in opportunists taking advantage of the situation looting at various business and shopping complexes all over the city. Erima is a ghost town as J Mart and other supermarkets closed their doors in the early hours of today upon seeing large groups of youths gathering outside their gates. In Boroko shops and supermarkets opened but later shut down as news of looters spread around the city. All this is happening due to a fight between drunken soldiers and police officers on duty on Friday. The military men had just come out of a club at Boroko and resorted to drinking in a public area, when asked by the police patrol to leave, they acted with hostility and thus were detained in prison. However, the soldiers called for backup that came and attempted to rescue the jailed army officers. It was during this rescue attempt that shots were fired and three soldiers were shot.

Report reveals drop in malaria cases in PNG

Post Courier, December 11, 2014

PAPUA New Guinea has had dramatic success in battling malaria, the World Health Organisation reports. Five years ago, one in every five people had malaria parasites in their blood – that number is now down to two people in every 100, WHO said in its 2014 report released this week.

It said globally, the number of people dying from malaria had halved since the year 2000.

The WHO said the positive figures must be attributed to global and regional efforts and a three-fold increase in funding.

WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan said: “These tremendous achievements are the result of improved tools, increased political commitment, the burgeoning of regional initiatives, and a major increase in international and domestic financing.”

Great progress in malaria control but no room for complacency

26 December 2014

The distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets and the introduction of the new and highly effective artemisinin-based combination treatment have changed the malaria landscape in PNG once again.

In malaria surveillance sites established by the PNG Institute of Medical Research (IMR), the incidence of malaria dropped from 205 cases per 1000 people in 2009 to 48 cases per 1000 in 2014.

Extrapolated to the entire country, this translates to 35,000 malaria cases less – every year! Over the same period, the Health Department reported a 50% reduction in malaria deaths. The current success was possible because $US120 million were provided between 2009 and 2014 to the Health Department, Rotarians Against Malaria, Population Services International, Oil Search Health Foundation and their partners to implement a comprehensive and well-designed malaria control program. Nevertheless, it is not the time to sit back and relax. In the 1980s, the cessation of the malaria eradication program and the increase in antimalarial drug resistance (to chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine or fansidar) led to a massive resurgence of malaria cases in PNG. The same was seen in malarious countries around the world. One of the reasons for these rebounds are so-called sub-patent malaria infections – infections with a very low number of parasites that remain undetected by normal diagnostic methods such as microscopy or rapid diagnostic tests. If PNG wants to avoid repeating the experiences following the 1980s, the funding commitment from the government needs to increase substantially or other donors need to be found. The biggest mistake at this point would be to argue that less funding is required as the burden has decreased. The opposite is the case. The challenge is therefore to sustain adequate funding for the malaria program to continue with the successful interventions. Political support and support from the people affected is critical. Far too often are people indifferent to the dangers of malaria.

Catholic schools eye fees in 2015

The National, Thursday December 11th, 2014

CHILDREN attending Catholic Church agency schools in Chimbu will pay fees next year, Bishop of Catholic Diocese in the province, Anton Bal said. “The government’s tuition fee-free (TFF) education failed to be implemented effectively in Catholic schools that forced delivery of primary and secondary education in Chimbu to face difficulties,” Bal said. He cautioned parents of children who will be attending the schools to be prepared to pay school fees. Bal said the intention of the policy was noble but the implementation of the policy had resulted in schools faced with many problems. Some of the problem he highlighted included overcrowding, improper teacher-student ratio and inaccurate handling of the commodity component of TFF. Bal said when the government announced the tuition fee-free education policy, it opened up floodgates. “Youths, whose parents had problems with school fees and kept their children at home, suddenly found them in school,” he said. “Because they have been on the street for long and have been involved in drinking, smoking and doing other things, they became a problem in that they brought bad influence to the young kids who were accepted in those schools.”  Bal said overcrowding resulted in teachers not having time to talk with problematic students. “The normal accepted number of students in a class is 35-40 but now we have 50-60 students in a class that this is affecting the teacher who wants to spend time with students with problems.

Papua New Guinea’s Tuition Fee-Free policy: is it working?

By Grant Walton, Anthony Swan and Stephen Howes on December 10, 2014

In our previous blog post we looked at Papua New Guinea’s attempts to instigate fee-free education policies since independence. We suggested that the 2012 Tuition Fee-Free (TFF) policy – the fourth attempt to introduce ‘free education’ – has been more clearly communicated, better organised and funded, and has lasted longer than previous policies. In this post we draw on the findings of our recent research, to examine the TFF policy’s implementation and performance more closely.

How well is the TFF policy being implemented?

Our findings suggest that schools received most of their subsidy, and that this has helped to compensate schools for a loss of revenue over the decade. Between 2001 and 2012, national government subsidies increased from 48 to 249 kina per student, 21 kina short of the 270 kina per enrolled student that these schools are meant to get. (The shortfall is likely due to the fact that about 16 per cent of the schools we surveyed had not received their second payment, and about 10 per cent had not received a payment at all.) This increase more than made up for the loss of revenue from parents: support from parents dropped from 70 to 12 kina between 2001 and 2012. As a result, the total revenue per student was 336 kina per student in 2012, more than double the 2001 figure…..

Remote schools face excessive costs associated with accessing their subsidy. For the 216 primary level schools in our 2012 PEPE survey, on average it cost over 1,100 kina to access the subsidy, or about 4 per cent of the overall subsidy amount. In Gulf province, which is particularly remote, the reported average cost was 2,865 kina per school or 32 per cent of the average subsidy payment. Not only are travel and associated costs expensive, but there are substantial risks to transporting large sums of cash from banks to schools (for the rest of this interesting article, see the url above.).

First batch of Manus asylum seekers begin resettlement process

Post Courier, December 16,2014, 01:48 am

FIFTY asylum seekers at the Australian-funded Manus Regional Processing Centre have been categorised as “genuine refugees” and will be moved out of the facility as part of their integration into the wider community. Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato made the announcement yesterday in the company of his Australian colleague Julie Bishop as they wrapped up the 23rd Papua New Guinea-Australia Ministerial Forum in Port Moresby. The one-day summit between the two neighbouring countries covered a broad range of issues from the Manus Regional Processing Centre, training bureaucrats through a new school of government, the 2018 APEC Summit and the efforts of both governments to restore services in Bougainville. “The resettlement of refugees’ arrangement is working very well; it is going full speed on every front. It is reviewable each year and the understanding is that our technical people will work through the issues to make sure that it is better, more refined to achieve the outcomes that we want to achieve,” said Mr Pato. “And I just announced today that I have approved up to 50 persons who have been determined as genuine refugees for settlement purposes and that means that effectively these 50 people will be moved away from the centre and they will be transited to the East Lorengau centre, which is a special purpose-built facility for asylum seekers on their way to integration.”

Porgera landowners may close mine

Post Courier, December 18,2014, 11:00 am

The landowners of the world class Porgera gold mine in the Enga province plan to force shut the mine after the National Government has failed to honour commitments under the mine’s Memorandum of Agreement. They are calling on department of treasury to explain to the landowners the reason for the hold back and when the funds should be released before the landowners take the law into their hands.

Chairman of the Porgera landowners Association Tony Mark Ekepa said from Porgera yesterday that under the mine MOA, the government agreed to provide K10 million for the construction of the Porgera-Tari road but the funds have not been released. He said they checked up with the mineral resource authority for the funds but they were told that the funds have not been released by the department of treasury. However he said it was unfair for the landowners of the Porgera gold mine to miss out on the funds when the Ok Tedi landowners were given funding under similar mine agreements. He said the Porgera gold is like any other mine in the country contributing to the coffers of the nation but the government’s intention to withhold the funding is unacceptable. He said the failure of the government would now force them to mobilize and shut the mine.“We have waited for a year and the financial year has ended. We need services like any other landowners and the failure to release the fund would have detrimental effects on the operation of the mine. …

Police: Binge drinking a killer

Post Courier, December 18,2014

POLICE statistics show that violent crimes such as murder and rape are associated with binge drinking. And measures must be taken to stop these violent crimes, acting Deputy Police Commissioner chief of operations Jim Andrews said yesterday. He said this while echoing his desire to see National Capital District Commission (NCDC) impose tougher liquor restrictions in the city where violent crimes remained prevalent. Mr Andrews wanted liquor sales in suburbs and settlements stemmed to reduce deaths and injuries that may result from ethnic violence, sexual assaults on females and other common crimes. He said numerous murders reported to police in various locations of the city, including that of a man who was bludgeoned to death at Morata last month, were associated with binge drinking. Mr Andrews said his recommendation for liquor restrictions in Port Moresby city was necessary to prevent crime and the loss of more innocent lives.

How boozing has changed PNG for the worst


WHEN I moved to Erima three years ago I began to dread the weekends. In Erima and other settlements in Port Moresby, weekends usher in a period of uncontrollable boozing. It is one of the major problems in Port Moresby. Ask any person on the street and they’ll tell you it is now a way of life in Port Moresby. Children as young as eight can be seen in places like the Gordon Market indulging in drugs and booze. School kids nowadays see the boozing culture as the ultimate initiation into manhood although most of them have yet to develop the mental capacity to be responsible drinkers let alone adults. I wonder if we as a nation will one day stop and ponder about where we are heading. I fear for a future living in an environment surrounded by drunkards and being at their mercy even in the workplace. I mean nowadays everyone takes alcohol but I am concerned about those who have yet to develop the level of maturity that is required to be considered a responsible drinker.

…For me and my family who spent most of our time in an environment where peace and order was the norm, coming to Erima was the most shocking experience of our lives. Looking back I realise how much sacrifice we made and the nuisance we had to face up to. God protected us and bestowed us His favour. Through this experience, I have developed a broader understanding of the struggle facing my community and the neglected and down trodden of PNG society. To me it was as if God wanted me to experience something that he often anguished over. Something which I could not have come to known if we had not moved in the first place. While the boozing and recklessness continue, my family and I have developed a thicker skin. By going through the similar struggle endured by the community, especially the struggle for water, we blend with the community. Yet every time I step out of my gate I realise how the booze culture has eroded so much of us as a nation. It has fuelled breakdown in law and order and led to ethnic tension and fights which has resulted in loss of lives and property. So much of what is culturally acceptable in our traditional societies has been weathered away. The younger generation is less benevolent and respectful towards their fellow citizens. Most of them don’t have a sense of purpose and goal in life. In place of hopes, dreams and inspiration, alcohol has created a world based on hallucination that only brings them closer to their own demise.

Facebook SOS saves dying mother

Post Courier, December 19,2014, 12:50 am

THE often demonised act of using social media has in turn saved the life of a young pregnant mother in a remote village in Aitape. The young mother, barely out of her teens, had reportedly been in labour for four days and was in critical condition while attempting to give birth at a remote Aitape village aid post on Tuesday. According to the aid post nurse, the young woman’s womb was damaged and resulted in the death of her baby two hours into the birth procedure. The situation got worse when complications rendered her unable to deliver the stillborn child, which, as medical staff explained, would have resulted in certain death if left unattended. The aid post was about eight hours walk from the Aitape district health services and at the time of the occurrence, it was almost certain that the young mother would die as she was too weak to walk or move. It was at this instance that Father Martin We-en, a priest working in the diocese of Aitape, posted a message on Facebook asking for assistance. Fr We-en’s “Hail Mary” post read: “A young mother is in labour now for four days, since Friday. The baby has already died in the womb and the mother is very weak now. I need to get this mother out before she dies.” This post was read by many of his friends and their friends as is the way of Facebook. This vast relaying of his message resulted in it being sent to the office of Health Minister Michael Malabag in Port Moresby within minutes. Mr Malabag wasted no time after receiving the distress call, contacting the Vanimo provincial health authorities and organised for a helicopter rescue, which successfully got to the village where the young mother was stabilised and evacuated to the Vanimo General Hospital. “I was surprised and at the same time very appreciative of those people who actually sent comments on Facebook and used their networks to distribute the post that I sent for help,” Fr We-en said. The woman is now recovering in Vanimo hospital, where her condition is stable.

Father John Glynn’s diary: Thoughts on doing it tough 19 December 2014

There is nothing so resilient as the human spirit. If you were to see the conditions in which people live in the slums and settlements of the developing world you would ask why there is no despair. It never ceases to amaze me that people who have virtually nothing of any material value, and who experience real hunger, and have to put up with the experience of rejection by authority figures, can still be patient, calm, and even happy. I recently took a student to the General Hospital to book her in for a tonsils operation due the next day. We sat on a bench in a crowded corridor outside the ENT clinic from eight in the  morning until two in the afternoon – yes, six hours – before we got to see the surgeon. He told us, in a five minute conversation, that for various reasons the operation could not be done and I should take the student to a private hospital. He was very friendly and polite but not in the least apologetic.He had the same message for others who had waited just as long. So we are going private. The same surgeon will carry out the procedure, but at considerable expense. It will be some time in the New Year we hope.

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