By ISAAC NICHOLAS
PARENTS can now breathe a sigh of relief after Education Minister James Marape announced the national government's intention to pay the first six months of school fees for students attending primary schools next year, The National reports.
Marape said during question time in parliament that it was the current government's policy on school fee subsidy beginning with free education for elementary schools from 2008 up to now.
"This year, the national government allocated K178 million for school fee subsidy which is in line with the government policy to give 100% access to basic education."
Marape said the policy towards 2013 was 100% school fee subsidy for elementary to primary schools.
"One of the fundamental reasons parents are not sending their children to school is school fees and this will complement the universal basic education policy."
Marape said the national government was responsible to help parents with school fees.
"By next year, the first half of the primary school year will be free," Marape said.
He said this in response to Enga Governor Peter Ipatas who said to succeed any nation must develop its human resources.
"The national government has rightly put resources into the education sector ... we must not compromise quality education for our children."
Ipatas said in Enga the provincial government had subsidised education for the past 12 years.
He commended the minister for his initiative but asked that the national government subsidy for elementary be worked out between the province and the department to ensure "there are no conflicting policies".
Marape said if there were parallel programmes in provinces "resources can be shifted to focus on school materials, infrastructure and library books".