Fatima Primary School is one of the oldest schools in Goilala District​​.

Located on the banks of river Selelangapa, which in commonly known as Vanapa down in the Central Province’s Kairuku Hiri District, Fatima Primary has over time helped produce some one the finest Goilalas human resources.

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School
Fatima Primary School

Two of such finest examples is Gee Mavai​​ and of course current President of Woitape LLG Honorable Joe Geru​​.

Detailed achievement and history with background of this two individuals among-st a host others is not the main crux of my article.

The main core of this article is that Fatima Primary school is closed. It was forced shut mid year June 2015.

I was in Woitape during the campaign period of the recently conducted By Election and fortunately had the chance to witness the issue first hand.

The official story for this premature closure of the school is, there is NO HEAD TEACHER.

There was a head teacher there at the start of 2015 academic year.
But this teacher, according to what I heard, one day decided he will not teach any more. So he quit. Very funny as it seems.

The full story, from what I came to learn is as follows.

This Head Teacher, actually resigned from active teaching duties some years ago. Obviously that means he got his entitlements from the department of education and went about his normal ways of life after retirement.

Then somehow, someone decided to drag or maybe lure him back into active duty. And installed him as the Head Teacher at Fatima.

Now, the poor human has to be paid for his service, as is the case everywhere. Nothing is for free.

This person started to get his claims to TSC (Teaching Services Commission) to get himself re-instated. But TSC rejected his wish.

So as is expected of any human, the Head Teacher decided for himself and walked off.

There were two female teachers there – one from Kairuku and another one Sepik – (both non Goilalas and females and not married, in a place called Goilala.)

There was only 3 Teachers based at Fatima at that time.

These two teachers, from what I heard, we’re junior staff. And did not qualify to act in the absence of a qualified and experienced Head Teacher.

According to the local priest, – Malota – in the middle of the year, to get a teacher transfer done is very hard and complex.

Compounded with this fact and the safety issue, with lack of basic services in Woitape, the only obvious option left to Fr Malota and Central Province Education board is to close the school.

Generally, the grounds on which the school was forced closed is genuine.

But the obvious question is, who gets to be victimized in this whole fallout?

Yes Students. Innocent students who really do not give a rats ass to why such is the case.

Is it their fault that this retired teacher was initially dragged in and installed as their Head Teacher in their school?

Is it also their fault that we had two junior teachers teaching at Fatima? Why was one of these teacher’s not granted the permission to “act” in the position of a Head Teacher for the remainder of the school year?

Obviously doubling of classes would have stretched the teachers workload but this is an emergency case and necessary action was needed.

In this particular case, the ugly head of “politics” between Catholic Agency and Central Province Education Board shows up. Its a tip of an iceberg.

Who authorized the reinstating of this retired teacher?

Who should be looking into the issue of teacher recruitment and postings at the start of the school year?

PEB, it seems does the postings. And the Catholic Agency is responsible for the schools management.

So the fact I seem to have found out is PEB and Catholic Church Agency does not seem to work in harmony.

There is this long out standing issue of “mistrust” between these two bodies.

Agency does not trust the PEB. Because the Agency claims, PEB is infested and infected with corrupt officers.

PEB does not trust Agency in return because PEB claims Agency is too dictatorial and unfair.

Fr Brian, when I contacted him on an update on re-opening of Fatima, I was told a Head Teacher is been selected and will start in 2016.

The is also a new Priest coming to replace Fr Malota.

At the end of the day, the fact every stake holder needs to get into their heads is, whatever the politics there maybe between PEB and Agency, the innocent students rights to education must never be denied.

There maybe situations where it’s beyond the control of PEB and Agency but the students must never be victimized and deprived.

All schools in Goilala are victims of this ugly politics between PEB and Catholic Church Agency.

Father Brian Cahill amongst other respected heavies in these two bodies is on FB and is a member of our group here.

He might shed some light in this but the situation on the ground across all primary schools in Goilala are similar in many ways.

1. Teachers been put off payroll.
2. Teacher been disciplined without taking into account various available factors.
3. School supplies are never supplied as requested or on time.
4. School subsidies are late or never reaches the school.
5. Inspectors never visit schools.
6. Statistics and standard officers never anywhere to be seen.
7. Teachers concerns and requests falling on deaf ears.

What happened in Fatima is a result of infighting been PEB and Agency. Fatima case gives us the opportiunity to come face to face with the ugly, cunning, very tangled up, and never comprising truth about the evil that directly results in our schools throughout Goilala not operating as expected.

Most of the previledged few in the system now came out from these very remote schools back in the day when people like Brother Brandon walked the length and breath of Goilala just to ensure every basic required necessity was provided for all schools and teacher alike.

It will be a long wait before another Brother Brandon comes along.

God Bless the Future of Goilala.


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