When the Minister for Education, Hon. Mathew Wale made a surprise visit to the Honiara High School last week, following rumors of teacher absenteeism, he caused wide debates among teachers, parents and the public alike.Solomon Times spoke to the Principal of Panatina Community School, Mr. Lino Rohana, who stated that there are underlying factors surrounding why teachers do not attend classes, in particular that of staff houses.
"Panatina teachers have been targeted for attendance and I must admit that housing problems are one of the main contributing factors. The school has tried its best with the help of parents to build classrooms and staff houses although funding for education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education," says the Principal.
He stated that when Teacher's houses are not available it causes a lot of relating problems. He added that he was quite surprised to read in the media that teacher's absenteeism is a corruption.
He stated that all Solomon Islanders, public servants, education authorities, parents and students must see and understand the real problem of teacher's lack of attendance, a cry that often fell on deaf ears.
He further stated that it is sad that teachers in the country are not treated properly and fairly.
"The Teachers pay is below poverty line which we know is a violation of International Conventions or agreements that the Solomon Islands Government is signatories to.
"Like any other secondary school, the Panatina School survived only from school fees, the EU grant and various fundraisings done by the school. Next year, the Panatina School intake will reduce by 25%, " he said.
Mr. Rohana concluded by thanking the parents, teachers and Aid donors who have kept the school running.