By Gary Hatigeva
STUDENTS who took part in the opening ceremony of the Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival (MACFest) on Sunday, have questioned the nature in which payments for their performances were made.
The students expressed their disappointment over the fact that payments for their participation in the event, were paid to schools and not them.
With so much anticipation to get small incentives in the form of allowances for their participation, students were only told on Monday that the funds were paid to their respective schools.
The displeased students told Island Sun that they were disappointed as they were not told about the payment arrangement.
They claimed that based on what they were told by the organisers, their performance allowances will be paid to schools represented.
However, with dismay, one of the students who asked not to be named expressed that their schools should never be given the allowances because the MACFest is done during the holiday period, and that they are the ones doing all the hardwork, not the schools.
“Even during our practice sessions prior to the opening, our schools never cared to help out in terms of transportation and food or drinks.
“Knowing that they will be paid the allowances, which we deserved, they should at least showed the courtesy to help us out, in that way, it would have been common sense to realise that we also owe it to our schools, but that was never the case,” the student alleged.
Other students also agreed and added that in their case, they were only transported three times by their school vehicle, but the rest of the sessions, the costs of traveling to and fro, water and other necessary items, were met at their own expense.
But when questioned on the claims, Festival Director, Denis Marita explained that regarding the students’ issue, the respinsible sub-committe dealt directly with the school administrations on things.
“Any form of ‘token of appreciation’ to the students will go directly to the school administrations and they will sort out this with their students.”
The event’s director, who is also the Director for Culture under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, further explained that any decision whether to give individuals cash or host a picnic for the students, is up to school administrations to decide on.
“Note that the National Organising Committee does not have the necessary funds to pay huge lump sums to individual performer/ student, as such, we deal directly with school administrations on this matter and negotiate on just a package for the school on behalf of their students,” the MACFest Director added.
However, on a more positive note, Marita revealed that schools whose students took part in the ceremony, were also given the opportunity to put up stalls at the festival venues, “for their contributions in this regard”.
Over 300 students from three schools in Honiara took part in the performances that were done during the colourful opening programme over the weekend.