Social Concerns Notes — March 2015

PNG tops porn searches on Google, experts divided over link on pornography and violence

PNG Blogs, Thursday, February 26, 2015

PNG has some of the highest rates of sexual and domestic violence in the world. A study published in the scientific journal The Lancet, found 59 per cent of men in PNG’s Autonomous Region of Bougainville had raped their partner and 41 per cent had raped a woman who was not their partner.

Australia’s deeply Christian northern neighbour, Papua New Guinea, is the most pornography-obsessed country in the world, according to Google Trends. PNG has a population of less than 8 million people and low rates of internet use, but has the greatest percentage of searches for the words “porn” and “pornography” compared to the nation’s total searches. Eight of the top 10 nations listed were developing countries in Africa, with Fiji ranking ninth. “Working with young men, we find that porn is very accessible,” said Thelma Kavanamur, communications officer with the youth organisation The Voice Inc.

“It’s on their laptops at the universities, it’s in their phone, they watch it in their rooms, they can be standing by on the streets and watching it — I have seen that personally.” Other studies used by the government suggest a third of PNG women are raped, with two-thirds of women experiencing physical or sexual violence. But the link between pornography and sexual violence remains hotly debated by researchers.

… Dr Flood thinks there is a link between porn and rape. “There’s good evidence that using pornography — and particular violent pornography — is associated with a tolerance for sexual violence, a tolerance for rape,” he said. “Not only that but [pornography is] associated with an increased participation in sexual violence, an increased rate of perpetration.” But Dr Flood said pornography was by no means the only cause of sexual violence, especially in a country like PNG. He said wider gender inequalities, cultural attitudes towards sex and overall levels of violence were contributing factors. “PNG is a country with high levels of all forms of violence, inter-personal violence… so you’d expect also to see high levels of violence against women,” Dr Flood said.

State will block porn

The National, Friday February 27th, 2015

THE Government is planning to put in place a K2 million internet filter to block access to pornographic websites in the country, officials say. Government officials yesterday responded to a revelation by Google Trend that Papua New Guinea was the “most pornography-obsessed country in the world”. It says even though the country has a population of less than eight million and a low rate of internet use, it has the greatest percentage of searches for the words “porn” and “pornography” compared with the nation’s total “searches” online. Chief censor Steven Mala told The National yesterday, the censorship office wanted to filter “the rubbish supplied free online which spoiled the mind-set of the young children of Papua New Guinea”.

What are the answers to obsessive & pornographic internet use?

11 March 2015, Fr Giorgio Licini Catholic Reporter PNG

PAPUA New Guinea made international headlines recently when it was claimed it is the most porn obsessed country in the world according to results from Google internet search engines. At the same time there is no doubt that prostitution is on the rise, with both local and foreign sex workers being hired or enslaved. In November last year a mother and teacher of one of our well known secondary schools told me their boys dormitory is illuminated until late at night by the light of cell phones apparently being used for questionable web surfing.

It is a waste of time calling for legislation, censorship or blocking of websites. The offer is so huge in the streets and on the internet, and ways to get around restrictions so easy, that hunting for the forbidden makes the challenge more interesting and the transgression spicier. Only personal change and free choice can make a difference. Only parental guidance, good education, healthy friendships, community service, religious practice and church involvement can take young minds to greener pastures. This is certainly not a problem of youth alone. At a young age there is the mitigating excuse of natural curiosity and guilty pleasure.

But what about parents, school, community, political and church leaders? In many cases the banalisation of sexuality, which should be considered part of God’s continuous work of creation, and attacks on family life become systematic. There is a need to strongly and publicly reprimand adults who promote, practice or take financial advantage from prostitution. There is also a need to vigorously educate young people to handle their natural emotions and gradually channel them towards constructive friendships and family life. This needs to be done with love and care, patience and good example. It is consoling and encouraging to see people happy and taking care of their spouse and children rather than watching them tear their life apart with occasional partners, roaming the streets or becoming internet addicts.

Under-age marriage ban

Post Courier, March 13, 2015,

THE revised Lukautim Pikinini Act will enforce the legal marrying age of 18 years. Marriage by girls – and boys – under 18 years of age would be deemed illegal under the new law, which would be re-introduced in Parliament for amendment in the May session.

Constitutional Law Reform Commission Secretary Eric Kwa outlined the marriage age and other measures to protect children’s rights in the new Lukautim Pikinini Act during the 2015 PNG Women’s Forum in Port Moresby. He said that for the first time, the Government had developed a child protection policy, which would guide the implementation of the Lukautim Pikinini Act.

Three laws; Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009, Deserted Wife and Children’s Act, and the Infant’s Act had been merged and amalgamated as a single legislation.

“We have now merged them in this one single legislation because it is important that the child is dealt within a single legislation so a child needs the protection of the parent,” he said.

Mr Kwa said the law would prevent minors from marrying until they reached the age of 18, even if a girl became pregnant at 15.

“She will not be allowed to be married off, the law says no, you have to wait until after 18, then you can get married,” he added.

Mr Kwa said the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009 was being reviewed within government agencies.

Tackling Corruption at its Root in Papua New Guinea

Post Courier, Thursday, March 5, 2015

Corruption, the single largest obstacle to socioeconomic development worldwide, has had a grave impact on the southwest Pacific Island nation of Papua New Guinea. While mineral resource wealth drove high gross domestic product (GDP) growth of eight percent in 2012, the country is today ranked 157th out of 187 countries in terms of human development. Key anti-corruption fighters in the country say that money laundering must be tackled to increase deterrence and ensure that stolen public funds earmarked for vital hospitals and schools do not pay for luxury assets abroad. A patronage system of governance and a culture of secrecy have led to the misappropriation of an estimated half of Papua New Guinea’s development budget of 7.6 billion kina (about 2.8 billion dollars) between 2009 and 2011 — Investigation Task-Force Sweep (ITFS)

“Our police officers, school teachers and health workers live and work in very squalid circumstances,” Lawrence Stephens, chairman of Transparency International (PNG), in the capital, Port Moresby, told IPS. “So when we see the government awarding a contract for pharmaceutical and medical supplies to a company not qualified to tender, a company quoting a price 40 percent higher than the closest qualified tender and costing the equivalent of 160 new homes for nurses each year of the three-year contract, we blame corrupt individuals for destroying development.” Papua New Guinea has been given a corruption score of 25/100, where 100 indicates clean governance, in comparison to the world average of 43/100, by Transparency International. The country’s dedicated anti-corruption team, Investigation Task-Force Sweep (ITFS), launched by the government in 2011, has described the country as a ‘mobocracy’, where a patronage system of governance and a culture of secrecy have led to the misappropriation of an estimated half of the development budget of 7.6 billion kina (about 2.8 billion dollars) from 2009 to 2011. Large-scale theft of public funds, including foreign aid, is alleged to have occurred across government departments responsible for national planning, health, petroleum and energy, finance and justice.

A 2006 Public Accounts Committee Inquiry into the Lands Department alone concluded that it had conducted itself illegally over many years and given priority to the interests of private enterprise and speculators over the interests and lawful rights of the State. The department’s shortfall in revenue was 5.9 million kina (2.2 million dollars) in 2001 and 4.9 million kina (1.8 million dollars) in 2003.

State capture, where powerful private sector interests exert undue influence over state leaders, officials and procurement processes, has had devastating repercussions for national development. Approval of ‘white elephant projects’ has channelled windfalls to criminal syndicates, Sam Koim, the ITFS Chairman, reported in the Griffith Law Journal. Koim told IPS that, of 302 cases of corruption entailing revenue of up to 5.3 billion kina (1.9 billion dollars) under investigation, 91 had been prosecuted. Twenty-eight senior public servants have been suspended or removed from office, while two Members of Parliament and two senior public servants have been convicted and jailed….(see the rest of the article from the url given above)

The belief in sorcery as a reality: Beyond ignorance death awaits

Post Courier, 05 March 2015

SORCERY related killings are common in Papua New Guinea, so much so that the government has been forced to repeal the Sorcery Act. One of the major reasons for this was that it was found that the Act encouraged the killing of innocent people because of their perceived involvement in deaths related to the practice of sorcery. The Act, as it stood, seemed to legitimise such vigilante action.

With the removal of the Act, harm done to a person alleged to have practiced sorcery will be dealt with harshly under the criminal law. Sorcery related killings will now be treated as murder.

In many societies in PNG, people believe sorcery is real. I was told that when the police arrest someone suspected of practicing sorcery in one particular place they call upon the expertise of a particular ‘grand master sorcerer’ to help detect whether the suspect is actually a sorcerer or not.

Maybe that was something that was missing in the previous Sorcery Act. I wonder where we would be with the sorcery issue if ‘master sorcerers’ had been engaged to work with the district, national and supreme courts to detect and prosecute the culprits under the then Sorcery Act. Yet even this might convey a sense that justice is not done as people would tend to question the integrity or credibility of a sorcerer assisting the courts….

All of us know, whether consciously or not, that there are two forces at play in our lives. The act of sorcery may be a form of the dark forces at work and overcoming the forces of light.

This implies that addressing sorcery related issues should go beyond the superficial and cause every Papua New Guinean to seek higher spiritual enlightenment to deal with matters of mysticism. This will not only involve a massive nationwide civic awareness campaign but, most importantly, it will require the government to deliver basic health and education services to the people.

Churches for their part need to be revitalised with a deeper understanding of the truth in the Bible so a light can shine upon those who are ignorant and groping in the darkness.

Sex abuse concerns judge

The National, Wednesday March 11th, 2015

A JUDGE has expressed concern over the number of cases on sexual abuse of children in the country. Justice Salatiel Lenalia raised his concern while presiding over child abuse cases in Kokopo, East New Britain this week. He said the prevalence of sexual abuse of children was a matter of concern to the people and authorities because most victims were very young. Lenalia said the Sexual Offences and Crimes Against Children Act aimed to protect children under the age of 16 from sexual abuse and exploitation. “Children are our future leaders and they should not be exposed to sex at an early age,” he said. “The law places fathers and mothers on the position of trust and authority to care and nourish children and bring them up to the stage where they will become adults and be independent persons,” Lenalia said. He said the law regarding incest established a fundamental principle of the “sacred trust” which children had towards their father, mother, brother, sister, or close relative. Lenalia said sexual offences against young girls and women in the country were serious in nature

People unclear on climate change

The National, 25th Feb, 2015

Many people are yet to understand the international concept of reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation undertaken by the Government in 2013, an official says. PNG Forest Authority forest policy and planning director Dr Ruth Turia said REDD projects needed to be understood by the people. “It is not something that some of us are used to – like the timber projects,” Turia said. “Some people say it is just wind and you cannot measure the carbon stock in the forests. That is the challenge we are getting through to get them understand how we can measure that in the forest. REDD+ project means that we will protect a selected forest area from logging and human activities thus reducing greenhouse gas emission and climate change effects. “The landowners will receive compensation and other social benefits for not touching their forests.” Turia said it was what they tried to do in the REDD+ pilot projects in Milne Bay (Suau), East Sepik (April Salumei), West Sepik, Eastern Highlands and West New Britain. She said when the pilot projects were completed, they would be put on tender to international organisations to partner with locals on the projects.  Turia said the landowners willing to offer their forests must consult the forest authority, Office of Climate Change and Development and other non-government organisations.

Housing, health costs up in Consumer Price Index

Post Courier, February 25,2015, 03:07 am

THE most recent consumer price figures released by the National Statistics office have revealed high price index for health and housing, two of the most needed services. The rise for health group in its Consumer Price Index (CPI) is blamed on the continuous increase in consultation fees for most private hospitals in all major centres while the rise for housing were a result of rapid growth of the real estate sector’s increasing building repairs and maintenance activities.

Comparing statistics for December 2013 to December 2014, health group had the highest inflation in CPI shown in the charts, having increased a massive 24.1 percent, followed by housing with an increase of 14.9 percent. Health group had a sharp climb, with a 7.9 percent increase from September 2014 to the December quarter. The rise in index was an effect of increased prices of items in the medical services and medical supplies during the four month period.

Catholic Health Service Continues to Provide Basic Services to People of Kiunga Daru Diocese

PNGLOOP, 3rd Mar, 2015

This time in Kiunga Catholic Mission Urban Clinic the community health workers with Bishop Giles Cote of Kiunga Daru Diocese, North Fly Health Director John Larry, Catholic Health Service Secretary Sr Anna Sangimawa and Acting Health Secretary of Evangelical Churches of PNG Max Ako with other partners launched the TB Program to fight TB in the catchment area in Kiunga. The theme “A way forward in reducing TB in Western Province through advocacy on Behaviorally change back to the basics,” brings to light many important preventive educational measures that can be taken to fight the deadly disease. People from all settlements in the St Gerard Parish came to listen to what the health professionals using power point got for them about TB. According to the Catholic Health Secretary Sr Anna Sangimawa the aim of the awareness was to educate, advocate and show the people little basic preventive measures that can be taken to fight TB, and if those that have it, a way forward on getting treatment in hospital and clinic. Sr Anna said Multiple Drug Resistant TB (MDR) was their target within this two weeks to preach about and make it known to the people that Kiunga has no place for MDR TB. “Let’s take the basic steps to fight TB simply by taking preventive measures and quit the style of being ignorant,” Sr Anna said. She said the government has paid for the medicine and it’s free in clinics and hospitals it’s up to us now to take that responsibility to make health our business and work towards maintaining healthy lifestyle in our homes and families.

It cost K8, 400 to treat a TB Drug Resistant TB Patient and this goes up to K38, 000 a patient for extensive drug- resistance TB and yearly 15, 000 cases of TB is recorded. Western Province is the third highest province with the highest number of TB and rising rapidly, as of December 2014, 153 drug resistant TB cases are on second line treatment in Western Province.

Kidu supports program to stop maternal mortality rate

Post-Courier, 06th March 2015

A STRONG advocate on maternal mortality says the issue of maternal mortality, maternal health and child health is not a health issue, it’s a social issue and a development issue. As the new patron of the new $10 million, five-year research program, Dame Carol Kidu is believed to be a new and influential supporter for Burnet Institute’s healthy mothers, healthy babies (HMHB) program, designed to address the appalling rate of death and disease among women and children in Papua New Guinea. “I’ve been a strong advocate on maternal mortality, not just in PNG but regionally, and I recognise that we are nowhere near reaching any of the targets that we are supposed to meet. The need for evidence-based approaches is critical, and I’m confident that Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies will inspire and assist enormously,” Dame Carol said. Dame Carol becomes the Patron of the new, $10 million, five-year research program, which aims to arrest a maternal mortality rate in PNG that’s one of the highest in the world and 80 times worse than Australia’s. She said but we need to remember that Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies is only the beginning of a long road. Communities need to take responsibility for the safety of mothers, and that includes men.”

Lawyers slack

Post Courier, March 09,2015.

THE National and the Supreme Courts have a backlog of more than 21,000 cases dating back 32 years because of “bad lawyering”, according to Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia. The backlog continues to increase every year because of the inability of the courts and lawyers in assisting the court in conducting cases with due despatch and efficiency, Sir Salamo said. He said the National Courts now had more than 20,000 pending cases dating back to 1983 while the Supreme Court had more than 1200 pending cases dating back to 1994. “The hearing of cases are unduly and unnecessarily delayed for months and years,” he said during the admission of new lawyers on Friday. “When cases are heard, they are not completed within reasonable time in that they are left part-heard and unattended to or decisions are reserve for months and years on end and list goes on.” “It is the duty of the courts, assisted by a competent legal profession that holds key to the disposition of these cases in a timely and qualitative manner.” Sir Salamo said the bulk of the cases that goes before the high courts are filed by lawyers on behalf of their clients and lawyers decide if the case is to continue to its conclusion or to withdraw it from the court. “The lawyers are indeed the gatekeepers of the court. If lawyers do not do their job properly, this directly contributes to a build-up of cases or that when cases are heard, justice is miscarried,” he said.

Eastern Highlanders seek medical help in Chimbu

The National, Monday March 9th, 2015

EASTERN Highlands Governor Julie Soso has expressed concern that people from her province are flocking to neighbouring Chimbu to seek medical treatment. Soso last Friday met with striking nurses and hospital staff at the Goroka Provincial Hospital. She  said she was unhappy to learn that Eastern Highlanders were spending money to travel to Chimbu for treatment. “I was in Kundiawa (Chimbu) last week and visited the hospital,” Soso said. “I found out that all the patients from Goroka go there to get treatment. We have our own hospital here.

Soso told the striking nurses, hospital management and the provincial health authority board to “come down” and “humble” themselves. She told them that the lives of the 600,000-plus people of Eastern Highlands were in their hands. The nurses were protesting about what they claimed were deplorable working conditions at the hospital. They have held a sit-in protest for the past three weeks.

UN report says Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers breaches torture convention

Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia March 09, 2015

A report by the United Nations finds Australia is breaching the international convention against torture in its treatment of some asylum seekers. A report by the United Nations has found Australia is breaching the international convention against torture in its treatment of some asylum seekers. The report has been prepared by the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, Professor Juan Mendez, and is being tabled in Geneva today at the UN Human Rights Council. Professor Mendez said Australia had failed to provide adequate detention conditions and that it should end the detention of children. His report also said Australia should put a stop to the escalating violence on Manus Island. Human Rights Law Centre director Daniel Webb said Australia was breaching the convention against torture it signed years ago. “Now Australia is being found to breach that convention to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” he said. Mr Webb said the report was a condemnation of Australia’s indefinite detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island and the conditions there. “It is basically Australia being named and shamed on the world stage as a country that fails to comply with the convention against torture, and

Rains cause havoc in H’lands region

Post Courier, March 11,2015, 12:44 am

FLOODS caused by continuous rainfall in the Highlands has destroyed gardens and deformed riversides. Not only coffee trees and vegetable gardens were washed away but even huge landslides have polluted rivers and waterways. Many families could not drink from the rivers as it is not safe so they store rainwater for personal and household use. The effects of the continuous rainfall since the beginning of the year was so devastating that it affects families very badly. Joe Alu, a resident from Warakar in Jiwaka said the land on which his father’s coffee plot, casuarina trees, cassava, kaukau and banana once grew were washed away by river Kar. “As a result of our garden being lost to the huge floods, my family is relying on money earned from selling betel nuts and cigarettes on the roadside.

“I don’t know how we’re gonna survive because the piece of land from the stretch of the company’s land (Amuliba Coffee Plantation) that we depend on is gone,” Joe said.

Many people in the Highlands region believe that the continuous rainfall is a result of climate change and global warming, thus there is no definite weather pattern predicted.

State may review death penalty

The National, Thursday March 12th, 2015

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says the death penalty may be reviewed in light of a growing international backlash against the use of capital punishment in Indonesia. He told the Wall Street Journal during a trip to Australia this week that growing criticism of Indonesia over the execution of foreign drug convicts had triggered a rethink. “We certainly do not want to be seen as a country that is ¬actively promoting the death penalty as a means of enforcing law and order in the country,” O’Neill said. “We are actively debating the death penalty issue in the government caucuses at present and there may be some need for review.” Australia has been putting pressure on Indonesia to spare the lives of two Australians facing the firing squad for drug-related offences. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned Indonesia of “repercussions” if the two men were executed.

Parliament voted in May 2013 to reactivate death-penalty laws, unused since 1954, to make murder, rape and robbery punishable by measures ranging from hanging to a firing squad, as well as “medical” asphyxiation. The Government said the new laws would extend capital punishment to include serious corruption worth more than $5.8 million. O’Neill said there had been a huge drop, almost 50 per cent, in major crimes in PNG “and of course there has been a substantial fall in petty crimes as well”.

The country currently has 13 people on death row.

Drug abuse still rife in our schools

Post Courier, March 13,2015, 12:38 am

THE high consumption of illicit substances such as home-brewed alcohol and marijuana in the school aged population still remains a concern and the trend is very dangerous, says National Narcotics Bureau officer Lawrence Tau.

“This trend is very dangerous because according to the developmental neuro science, an adolescent’s brain is vulnerable to the neuro toxin effects of the 421 chemicals contained in the Marijuana that can affect the brain in few seconds,” Mr Tau said. He said addressing the issue of drugs is a big problem in the school-aged population because most of the youths who take this drug and make up the large number of mentally ill patients in psychiatric centres. “The primary and secondary school children today are been influenced and we need more awareness on such issue as it is the preparation ground for the development of a child. “So it shows that at this stage, when they consume such drugs, it affects the brain structure and the functions of the body.

“We need to guide and encourage our school children and make sure they fully concentrate on their studies rather than taking drugs,” Mr Tau said.

Taylor eyes lasting legacy

Post Courier, March 13,2015, 12:37 am

THE first woman secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor wants to leave a legacy and a successful place especially for young women in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. In her concluding remarks at the 2015 PNG Women’s Forum, Dame Meg, who was a panel participant on a discussion on partnering for mentoring and leadership development, encouraged mutually beneficial mentoring relationships among women and partnerships to develop the next generation of women leaders, gave this message:

“What do I want to be sure that when I have left, I leave a legacy and a place for those coming after me to succeed, especially our young women in Papua New Guinea and in the Pacific?” she said

“And how are we going to do that? We are going to explore the discussion to the mentoring power, very important for those of us, older generation are making sure that the young ones that are coming through, have the confidence, the ability, the capacity and the passion to succeed for our country.”

Apart from her political career, Dame Meg spoke about other top women leaders who made an impact in her life, in the likes of World Bank boss Christine Lagarde, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Eleanor Roosevelt. She also spoke so highly of her father and mother whom she said was a pioneer in everything she did. “My values are made of gospels… Have I made mistakes, have I not always adhere to them, gospels have been fundamental in my life, but I embrace and respect hard work and discipline and also responsibility for family, community and to be accountable for what you do, this is where it’s really lacking for many societies.

Gender inequality marginalising women

The National, 11th March, 2015

Gender equality is marginalising women in Papua New Guinea in terms of key government priority areas, Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council (CIMC) executive director Wallis Yakam says. However, Yakam said women should not give up hope but work towards establishing ways to strengthen their rights. Speaking during the second PNG Women’s Forum co-hosted by the US Embassy and Department for Community Development this week in Port Moresby, Yakam said gender-based violence was an issue in the country and should be addressed at a higher level to really look at the state of violence against women. “Now that we have the forum here with international partners trying to address the issue with government, the government is now taking good progress with policy and legislative initiatives,” Yakam said. She said there was no coordinated effort specifically for women, with central agencies doing their own thing and nothing tied up in the budget. “There is nothing for women in the annual budget. For example, the National Council of Women – there is nothing for women,” she said. Yakam said if the government was serious about addressing gender equality and gender-based violence, it should provide support in terms of allocating funds for women in the annual budgets and provide capacity and incentives for them.

Watchdog: Systemic corruption worrying

Post Courier, March 19,2015, 01:31 am

CORRUPTION in public administration topped complaints received by Transparency International PNG in the past five years, its records show. TIPNG’s registered complaints on corrupt practices in public administration ranged from registry processing, public tender processes, retirement benefits and misappropriation of district funds, TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens said yesterday.

At least 551 complaints of corruption were made to Transparency International PNG between 2009 and 2014, in which the advocacy and legal advice centre had recorded and dealt with or referred to appropriate authorities to handle, the watchdog said.

PNG allows lawyers into Manus camp

21 March Radio NZ

The Papua New Guinea government has agreed to provide access to lawyers to obtain statements from asylum seekers held by Australia on Manus Island. The Australian-based Refugee Action Coalition says the move is a major breakthrough in the legal challenge to the Manus detention centre.

Mr Rintoul says they are extremely happy to finally have legal access to the detention centre.

He says ever since the detention centre was opened, asylum seekers have been denied access to lawyers and legal advice.

School fears. Funding shortfall may force early closure

Post Courier, March 24,2015, 03:41 am

PRINCIPALS and head teachers from Catholic Church-owned high schools and secondary schools have revealed they only received 70 per cent of the Government’s tuition fee free subsidy. Failure by the Government to remit the remaining 30 per cent of the subsidy will force the closure of church-run schools throughout the country before the end of Term 2, they warned at a March 16-20 conference in Port Moresby.

However, the gap in funding could be filled by the parents, they added, to enable the institutions to continue operating while waiting for the rest of the subsidy to be deposited into the school accounts.

The principals and head teachers were informed that only 70 per cent of the first payment for every child throughout the country was paid. For example, if the first payment was K825 per child, only K577.50 was paid. The payment of the remaining 30 per cent is uncertain. The second payment is expected in July just before the start of term three,” the teachers said in a statement released last night. All the principals and head teachers have expressed concern that this money is not enough to run the schools until the end of term two. All schools have experienced increased enrolments and increase in prices of goods and services. Remote schools have experienced increased cost of transport.

The decrease in the TFF payment will mean that schools will have to close before the end of term two.”

NRI report on PNG bank interest rate margins

Post Courier, March 23,2015, 08:00 pm

THE interest rate margins for Papua New Guinea is among the highest compared to similar endowed nations. This is according to a report by the National Research Insitute on the Bank Interest Rate Margins in PNG which it launched today. The report states that the the large margin to be due to a combination of abnormally high lending rates and abnormally low rates of interest paid on deposits.

The research also shows that the mortgage rates on residential loans in PNG as of September 2014 to be nearly twice that in Australia while interest rates paid on deposit is often lower. The report states that two things that weigh down growth of income are that the high rates of interest on loans slow investment while low rates of interest paid on deposits acts as a discouragement for savings.

Professor Satish Chand said that the margins could be reduced within the short run by increasing competition in the provision of financial services.

Rights of disabled people important

Post Courier, March 25,2015, 01:03 am

THE Government’s ongoing commitment towards upholding rights of persons with disabilities is just as important as realising its commitments in the convention, says the United Nations country representative Roy Trivedy. Commending the Government for making numerous progress in the disability sector, Mr Trivedy said it was more important that it upheld a continuous commitment to realise the rights of all persons with disabilities.

“In ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013, the Government made a commitment to uphold the rights of all persons with disabilities,” he said.

New research shows tuberculosis more widespread

Post Courier, March 25,2015, 01:03 am

A NEW tuberculosis (TB) research has found that more people have the disease than what has been reported by the Health Department. The research was carried out by the Institute of Medical Research and partnership in health (PiH) program funded by ExxonMobil PNG. Presenting the findings last week, Dr Suparat Phuanukoonnon said the IMR had conducted the research in four case study areas Kikori (Gulf), Hiri (four villages near the PNGLNG plant in Central Province), Hides (Southern Highlands Province) and Karkar in Madang Province. She said the research found that in Kikori 9670 people were surveyed with an incidence of 1282 (per 100,000 population) compared with 785 as reported by Health Department. In Karkar 18,413 people surveyed, with an incidence of 510 against Health’s 276. In Hiri 13,310 people were surveyed with an incidence of 458 against Health’s 165 and in Hides 5596 people surveyed with an incidence of 36 against Health’s 84. Dr Phuanukoonnon said people took time to seek medical health care and some cease treatment once they felt better which is a problem. This contributed to the increase of people infected with TB, she said.

Is the Education Department exploiting Elementary School Teachers? By: Fr John Glynn

The subject of this report is a female Elementary School teacher in a remote Central Province Village

Ms X teaches at the Elementary School in her village. This is fully registered Catholic Agency school. Total enrolment at the school is about 58 children ranging in age from 6 years to 8, with a few older.

Ms X has remained without being paid since 2010. There is an Acting Teacher in Charge (TiC) who receives a salary. The real TiC is now a student at Teachers’ College and is still receiving his salary from the Department.

Ms X’s history:- 2010 Ms X was recruited to teach at the village Elementary School. She attended a six week course at Mirigeda near Loloata Island which qualified her to teach the Prep Grade. The cost of the course was K1,110. Ms X found a sponsor who paid this money for her. On completion of the course Ms X was instructed to complete a Resumption of Duty form so that she could be put on the payroll and receive a fortnightly salary. She did this but received no pay for all of the year. All her queries and appeals to her superiors and to Pay Section at FinCorp House were ignored.

2011 Ms X attended a second course to qualify her to teach at Elementary One (E1) level. The cost of the course was again K1,110 which was paid by Ms X’s sponsor. Ms X again filled in a Resumption of Duty form as she was instructed to do. Again she was not paid anything although she continued to teach faithfully for the full year. Her inquiries and appeals were again ignored.

2012 Ms X continued to teach. She was offered the third, E2, qualifying course but no longer had a sponsor to pay the fee so she did not do it. She filled in her Resumption of Duty form again but again received no pay for the year.

2013 Ms X taught for the full year, again completing her Resumption of Duty form but again was not paid and could get no help from anyone in the Department.

2014 Ms X found a sponsor and completed the E2 course which again cost K1,110. She completed her Resumption of Duty form but again was not paid and was denied any help or advice from the Department. She was now qualified to teach all three grades at Elementary level, but was not given a Certificate.

2015 Ms X continues to teach at her village school without any pay, although she has again filed her Resumption of Duty form. She has been offered a new course in teaching literacy through the phonics method. This course will cost K700.

In the past week Ms X has been trying again to get some help from anyone in the Department. Her Coordinator cannot help, neither can she get any help at the PNG Education Institute (PNGEI), and when she went to Pay Section at FinCorp House she was told that it would cost her K300 to process her paper work.

She has also been told the she and other newly qualified Elementary Teachers will shortly be given their Certificates at a special Graduation Ceremony to be held at PNGEI. However, this ceremony will cost the teachers K3,000 each, but graduation gowns will be provided at no further cost.

Teaching in the settlements

By Fr. John Glynn, Port Moresby

The Out Of School Children (OOSC) approach is what I call the Top Down approach to the problem. It requires a lot of preliminary work to be done before direct action can be taken to deal with the problem. It calls for a lot of planning, forums, workshops, brain storming, report writing, development of strategies, etc., etc., before approvals can be sought, funding secured, and implementation begun. In the meantime a lot of children continue out of school. The Bottom Up approach sees a child on the street, not in school, and acts to put the child into school at once. It is an organic approach – like planting a seed, watering it and watching to see what it will grow into. The Bottom Up approach puts the needs of the child first. All the rest, planning, developing infrastructure, and so on is secondary. It is all important, of course, in fact it is essential, but it remains a subsidiary requirement. The Top Down approach is systematic, definitely not organic, and results in a carefully designed system that will undoubtedly produce a good result that will answer the problem in a satisfactory way. However, it creates the danger that the requirements of the system will take precedence over the needs of the child.

The Bottom Up approach places the needs of the child before the requirements of the system. What this means is that whatever resources are available will be used in order to meet the needs of the child. And these resources may well be totally unacceptable in the well designed, formal and systematic structure produced by the Top Down approach. An example of what I mean can be seen in how the ‘back yard’ Early Learning Centres that are currently spreading through the settlements and suburbs of our cities and towns right now. This informal answer to the problem of educating children for whom no school places are available has been developed by worried parents, and good hearted citizens. What happens is that a woman or a married couple takes on the responsibility for caring for a small number of young children who are running around unsupervised on the street. Using whatever materials are available the carer provides lessons for the children. Young women – and the occasional young man – volunteer to help. And then they look for support. The Foundation for Women and Children at Risk (WeCARe!) is currently supporting six (6) Early Learning Centres in settlements around Port Moresby, with a total enrolment of some 500 children. The volunteer teachers in these schools have no more than a Grade 8 or Grade 10 education. They attend a part time teacher training programme for a year. This training course is run by Church based organisation Ginigoada. It is funded by the Digicel Foundation with other support from the City Government and others. (The Digicel Foundation supports Early Learning Centres that cater for around 3,000 children in all). The trainers are qualified teachers. The trainees learn the phonics method for teaching literacy. They become very proficient at it. By the time the children are ready to enter Primary School they can read, write and handle numbers to a degree that puts them a year or more ahead of their classmates. WeCARe! assists these Early Learning Centres that are registered with us by paying for teacher training, providing teaching materials, providing materials for the construction of classrooms, for building desks. We provide the materials for installing VIP toilets (Ventilated Improved Pit toilets). We provide rain water tanks where needed. We provide children’s books, toys, school uniforms … WeCARe! has other programmes that provide assistance for very poor families and single mothers, and for disabled children. There must be thousands of children in Early Learning Centres around the country. Those schools of the ‘back yard’ variety are not recognised by the Education Department. Their teachers are not registered and the schools are not included in statistics collected in the recent national census of schools. They do not qualify for public funding of any kind. The fact that they are educating so many of our young citizens is irrelevant. They may be meeting the needs of the children, but they simply do not meet the requirements of the system, and so they are ignored and the children who are being educated are counted as being Out Of School!

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