While schools around the nation have begun their academic year, approximately 300 students at the Napangasale Junior secondary school on Tongoa, still have not begun their classes.

This comes about after the school principal, John Richard William, was remanded over rape allegations.

Many are questioning whether it is necessary for the school to remain closed without the principal.

Herem Navat, Principal Education Officer [PEO] of the School Inspection & Compliance Unit under the Ministry of Education, explains that it is necessary in this case for the students to not begin classes.

PEO Navat explained that when the alleged rape incident took place, there weren’t any other teachers in school, therefore there wasn’t anyone around for a proper hand over of responsibility to take place to keep the school in order while he appears in court.

He also said that now the high school has a negative image, teachers are morally affected.

It is also not possible for the students to just go back to school because a few assets such as the vehicle and principal’s residence are still under Mr William’s care.

Once cyclone Oma moves on, a team from the Ministry of Education will be travelling to Tongoa to further assess the situation and settle everything with staff and concerned parents.

He also explained that people need to know that the Teaching Service Act has a mandate to discipline its workers.

However, the Teaching Service Commission has been advised by the State Law Office to wait until the court makes a decision on the matter.

If Mr. William is found guilty, the TSC can then formally dismiss him and find a new principal.

PEO Navat wishes to assure parents that a new principal will be appointed soon and there is no need to worry and think of transferring their children to other high schools.

Since the school is under the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu, Jonathan Tarip, head of the Presbyterian Church Education Authority, stated that they have advertised the post for principal internally within the Ministry of Education for anyone around Vanuatu to take up the post.