(MPGIS Press Release, 30/8/23) The Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) is deeply saddened and condemns in strongest terms the burning down of Onelafa Community High School 6 Blocks Double Classroom, at Ward 14, East Fataleka on Malaita a couple of days.
The classroom was completed in 2017/18 FY at a cost of SBD1.5 Million benefiting an estimated number of 400 Students, and providing employment for a number of people in that area during its construction phase. It took the Ministry, the school management, Malaita Provincial Government (MPG) and the MPGIS a period of three and half years to secure that Project. The Onelafa School project has to be competed with other potential PCDF funded projects around Malaita, before it was secured under the Peter Ramohia Government. It also took a further 12 months for the Classrooms to be completed before it was handed over to the School Board and the Communities around East Fataleka.
It is so sad that a project that was regarded as a Landmark for East Fataleka was razed down in matter of couple of hours. This action of intentionally burning such an infrastructure that would benefit our Children is hereby condemned in the strongest term.
Whoever master minded it and whatever the motives were for razing the Provincial Capacity Development Fund (PCDF) funded classroom to the ground, remains unknown. However, the deed itself was an act of arson that has burnt away the future of the children of Onelafa and nearby communities.
This is the second time a PCDF funded classroom was burnt in Malaita Province. The first was in 2011 when a disgruntled employee of the contractor torched an upgraded Auki Primary School Double Storey Classroom that cost SBD152,666. In 2019 two PCDF renovated staff houses, the Premier’s and Provincial Secretary’s Residences at Te Taungangoto in Tingoa, West Rennell were burnt. The total cost for the staff houses was SBD341,000.
Under all circumstances, schools should be safe spaces for children. With this vicious arson attack on Onelafa School, the right to education of the children using the classrooms have now been denied as the school may have been closed. This certainly has negative impact on the children. It is hoped that the community elders and the perpetrators amicably resolve issues or grievances that may have led to the burning of the classrooms, and that justice is served.
Just imagine the palpable shock and confusion felt by the innocent children and their families as they witnessed all that is left of their hard-fought for funding classroom now in ashes, charred benches and chairs, and coiled iron roofing. How could this happen to a school? Do these children deserve this? After all, the last thing anybody should burn is a Classroom building. This kind of attitude should be stop.
The MPGIS urges Community leaders around Onelafa and any other communities benefitting from PCDF funded infrastructures to respect and take great care of funded projects, as they are very expensive, and takes lot of time and efforts to construct. It is unfortunate that another well intentioned project that otherwise would have gone to benefit other communities that needed it most and may look after it well has just been destroyed.
The National Government and Donor Partners through MPG funded the Six Classrooms Block through the PCDF. The PCDF is a performance based, conditional fund administered by the MPGIS. MPG implemented 46 projects in the Education Sector at a cost of SBD30,108,835 from 2008/9 – 2021/22. Overall, all sectors combined, MPG implemented a total of 190 community projects at the cost of SBD62,922,107 from 2008/9 – 2021/22 making it the highest cost.
|RESOURCE ALLOCATION TO MALAITA PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT FROM 2008/9 – 2021/22
|Fixed Service Grant (FSG) Paid to MPG
|PCDF Paid to MPG
Table 1: Annual FSG and PCDF paid by MPGIS to MPG 2008/9 – 2021/22
The resource table inserted herein shows the amount of funds that the SIG provided to Malaita Provincial Government for service delivery including infrastructures since 2008/9. Because of the population factor MPG receives almost 23-26% (on average) of the total fixed service grant allocated to the nine provinces annually. When MPG qualifies, it takes more than 24% of the total PCDF annual allocation (see the figures above). The years 2012-2014/15 are empty for PCDF because the province failed to qualify for PCDF in those years.