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Part I Descriptive Section


This country paper has been developed for the Department of Education using the following sources of information:

It is noted that the earlier information available from Corporate Data was collected at a time when there was less rigour in the systems developed to collect, record and store data.

It must be mentioned that the completion of the core indicators referred to above has been a rather time consuming and very extensive activity. Papua New Guinea manages education in a decentralized way through nineteen provinces and two district organisational units. The various layers of data involving age, gender, public and private education providers and urban and rural distinctions combined with 21 organisational units for the years 1990 to 1997 translates into many individual tables. The completion of COHORT.XLS as a result, requires the preparation of 168 separate tables.


Financial assistance from UNICEF/PNG contributed towards national EFA planning workshops as well as funding of the consultant to write up the PNG EFA draft report, which was submitted for the August workshop in Nadi.

Acknowledgement also goes to Mrs Celia Barelle and Mrs Ada Pannett , UNESCO mobile team who assisted with the start of the work, and to UNESCO (Apia) and the Pacific RTAG for two supportive workshops.


Past Education Practices in Papua New Guinea

The organisation and structure of education in Papua New Guinea in the 1980’s consisted of:

Table 1: Expected enrolment growth without reform activities (1994-2004)



Grades 1-6

Junior secondary

Grades 7-10

Senior secondary

Grades 11-12

Total students





















 All teaching and learning activities in schools were conducted in English. Enrolment was not compulsory and fees were charged for most of the time. Schools followed prescriptive curricula; there was a high level of control of teachers and students; traditional timetable structures and subject-based staff structures were in operation; curricula were underpinned by inspectors, subject consultants, syllabus advisory committees and national examinations.

The structure was characterised by high attrition rates at the community school level and there was a serious access problem at the secondary level. The two major bottlenecks were at the end of grade 6 and grade 10. The education system was only able to offer a post primary education for about 1 in 6 children and less than 2 percent of students enrolling in grade 1 reached grade 12.

There were gender imbalances on most measures of education attainment. Fewer females than males commenced schooling and fewer progressed from grade 6 to grade 7 and from grade 10 to grade 11. Secondary education was characterised by very high unit costs because the majority of secondary institutions were boarding schools.

Teachers in community schools required two years of training and graduated from one of the eleven community teachers’ colleges with a certificate of teaching, and high school teachers graduated from Goroka Teachers’ College with a two-year diploma in teaching. There was an extensive professional development program available for teachers in the form of the national in-service week, school based in-service activities and opportunities for full-time sponsorship to do tertiary study. A small group of students enrolled in the four-year Bachelor of Education program offered at the University of Papua New Guinea.

Table 2: Expected growth in teacher demand without reform activities (1994-2004)



Grades 1-6

Junior secondary

Grades 7-10

Senior secondary

Grades 11-12

Total Teachers





















 In addition to the formal responses to education mentioned above, a lively and large village and non-government organisation based tok ples priskul movement existed throughout the country, which in many ways offered alternative solutions to the management and operation of education in Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea Response to Education for All

The Department of Education endorsed the outcomes of the Jomtien Conference but did not establish a specific task force to facilitate Education For All (EFA).

The issues and the strategies, which arose from Jomtien, were already evident in the minds of senior educators through the influential Ministerial Committee Report on a Philosophy of Education (1986), which proposed a radical philosophy of education based on a notion of ‘integral human development’. The Report, better known as the ‘Matane Report’, which was officially adopted by the government of the day, states:

This philosophy is for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination and oppression so that each individual will have the opportunity to develop as an integrated person in relationship to others. This means that education must aim for integrating and maximizing: socialization, participation, liberation, and equality. (p6)

The report was particularly concerned at the loss of relevance of education for the majority of students and the lack of early childhood education opportunities. Matane argued strongly for the development of the early childhood sector of education and, importantly, that the language of instruction be in the language spoken by the child. This meant, more often than not, that instruction would be in one of the over 800 languages that exist in Papua New Guinea. This was a daunting challenge but it was underpinned by a strong maintenance approach to Papua New Guinea cultures and the ways of doing things.

The Education Sector Review

Human resource development has been a high priority of the past and present governments in Papua New Guinea although the actions of government may not have always ensured the effective realization of such a priority. In 1991, consistent with this priority, the government of the time commissioned an education sector review to be carried out by a task force. It was to identify, document and develop strategies to rectify problems that had become endemic in the education system over the fifteen years since independence.

The Education Sector Review (1991) confirmed inordinately high rates of attrition at the primary level pointing out that universal primary education was unlikely to be achieved; low transition rates at the post grade 6 and grade 10 levels; a largely irrelevant curriculum; weak management and administration; declining resource allocations combined with high unit costs; and a severe imbalance in the allocation of funding to higher education at the expense of other sectors of education.

The sector review suggested that to do more of the same was unlikely to have significant effects and was prohibitively expensive. Consequently an integrated package of strategies was developed which radically changes the education system in its structure and curriculum and establishes a lower cost base at each level of education.

The development occurred within the context of the new Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government, the Education (Amendment) Act 1995 (which established the new structure of the education system), the Teaching Service (Amendment) Act 1995, and current major government policies relating to manpower reduction, a user pay policy and delivery of services at the provincial and district levels.

Reconstructing Education in Papua New Guinea

The Education Sector Review (1991) translated the rhetoric of the Matane Report into reforms and strategies that reconstructed education consistent with integral human development. The Review opened with the disconcerting statement:

the education, which the vast majority of children who do not enter the formal employment sector receive, alienates them from the way of life of the people and does little to equip them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to contribute positively to community or national development. (National Department of Education 1991:7)

The education reform program sets out to address these problems and to provide education opportunities for all. The new structure has been progressively produced since 1993, and runs parallel with the existing education system in many parts of the country. Thus one system is expanding and the other diminishing, until the reconstruction is complete. The reforms are planned to be fully operational by the year 2004 although, unofficially, education authorities admit that the year 2010 is more realistic given budget constraints and the relatively slow implementation progress of the reforms in some parts of the country.

Figure 1: The education reform structure in Papua New Guinea


The National Executive Council, in 1994, assigned four national objectives to the Ministry of Education. They are:

1.1 Early Childhood Education

Goals for Elementary Education

The reform will be phased in over a period of ten years. The specific targets relating to elementary education are:

Table 3: Projected elementary school enrolments with reform activities (1994-2004)













602 454 7378 25183 56705 73285 93862 108637 119388 128911 134688


0 555 529 5620 25921 56705 73285 93862 108637 119388 128911


0 0 405 603 9437 25403 55571 71819 91985 106464 117000


113830 116457 121558 119894 109902 69302 54938 38084 28558 22099 17175


98206 98341 101779 103814 103236 95995 60245 47577 32705 24334 18660


212638 215807 231649 255114 305201 320690 337901 359979 381273 401196 416434

Note: E1 and 2 and G1 and 2 are included in this table consistent with the design of the education reform

Source: FMU, Department of Education 1998a

1.2 Primary Education

Goals for Primary Education

Programs to address the problems relating to access, retention and quality include:

Reform targets for primary education sector are:

a bridging program from grade 3 to grade 5 into English

the establishment of grades 7 and 8 in primary schools

the development of discrete regular subjects at primary grades 6 to 8;

a renewed emphasis on social, cultural, spiritual, moral and vocational education; and

a community orientation which emphasizes the skills that children need to contribute to the development of their own communities

Each of these reform targets has considerable implications for the work that teachers will do and the requirement of professional development inputs to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to cope with the reform agenda.

It is anticipated that 50 percent of grade 8 students from primary schools will progress to grade 9 at a secondary school. The remaining 50 percent of students will either enroll in a local vocational training center or return to the village and participate in the informal work sectors.

The program will improve access, retention, female participation rates and academic achievements, thus improving the chances of achieving quality universal primary education. The basic level of education will be extended from the current six years to nine years.

Specific objectives related to primary education are that by the year 2004:

Implementation of Primary Goals

The annual targets for primary-level implementation are shown in the following table.

Table 4: Annual primary enrolment targets with reform activities (1994-2004)













82571 90205 87808 89379 92714 103298 112549 109024 113253 119359 125955


75421 76127 78487 77859 79667 84037 93984 102697 99885 104017 109911


64834 69320 65954 69263 68882 71935 75938 85183 93457 91222 95223


56169 59290 59187 57196 59942 61203 63950 67584 76036 83682 82087


23236 26243 29071 33393 36662 41868 47608 52901 57110 60827 64280


19251 21108 23772 26175 29783 34881 39732 45199 50231 54228 57753


321482 342293 344279 353265 367650 397222 433761 462588 489972 513335 535209

Source: FMU, Department of Education 1998a

The implementation of a full primary education program is designed to take 10 years. Grade 7 and 8 children will still be enrolled in existing high schools until full implementation is achieved. Infrastructure development will be required in the early years until the introduction of the elementary sector frees up school facilities for the new Grades 7 and 8 classes.

The education reform program focuses on access, equity, and quality in the provision of nine years of basic education from Prep to Grade 8.

 1.3 Learning Achievements and Outcomes for Primary Education

EFA goals and targets are established in the planning and practice of the education reform process.

1.4 Secondary Education

Secondary education, as a result of the education reform, consists of grades 9 to 12. The restructuring has the effect of providing additional classes in all secondary school grades. The reform also involves the development of vocational secondary schools at the grade 9 and 10 level running parallel to an academic grade 9 and 10 program at secondary schools.

Specific targets to be achieved by 2004 at this level are:

Table 5: Annual secondary enrolment targets with reform activities (1994-2004)








































































Source: FMU, Department of Education 1998a

1.5 Adult Literacy and Non-formal Education


Papua New Guinea's population was 3 512 000 in 1990. Over 40% were under fifteen years of age, and about 15% is under the age of five. The sex ratio is 109 males to 100 females. Over ninety percent of the people live by rural farming on communally owned land. The growth rate is 2.3 percent per annum giving a population of 7.4 million by 2010. Approximately 40% of the population will be in the 13-34 age range.

The annual urban population growth rate in the 1970s was 7.0 percent, which slowed to 4.5 percent during the period 1980-1990. Despite this, the growth in urban population is creating severe overcrowding, increasing the spread of urban crime and other attendant problems.

A large population creates competition for resources to meet various social needs, all of which appear urgent and legitimate. It is essential to meet the basic subsistence needs of all our people, remove the sources of social problems, protect the environment, and control excessive population growth. However, these demands must not replace the learning needs of the population.

Although education produces knowledge and skills, and health services protect, extend and improve the quality of life, government spending on health and education has declined in relative terms.


Goals for the attainment of higher levels of adult literacy have not been established by government other than a concern at the poor literacy rate in the country. The EFA goals and targets referred to earlier are considered as contributing significantly to the overall improvement in literacy rates.

Nonetheless, literacy through non-formal education means, has a crucial role to play in Papua New Guinea, where only seventy-six percent of the children between six and twelve years of age go to school, and only one-third of those who finish Grade 6 continue their education. Whether it occurs through vocational education, agricultural or health extension programs, adult literacy activities, distance education, or community-based libraries, non-formal education is a very important part of the effort to meet the learning needs of the majority of Papua New Guineans.

Open and Distance Learning

A national open learning mechanism will be established to deliver courses developed by all distance education providers e.g. the universities, the College of Distance Education and Teacher Education.

Vocational education

There will be some rationalization of vocational centers to provide upgraded facilities, staff and courses.

Technical Education

Priorities in technical education will involve:

rationalization of courses to ‘home colleges’

upgrading of courses; and

developing an association with the Trade Testing and certification system.

Non-formal Education Services

Non-formal education targets youth who are not in the formal school system, out-of-school adults, and second-chance learners, by mobilising the expertise of government agencies and non-government organisations to:

The basic principal underlying non-formal education is that programs must be person-centred. This shift means:

giving high priority to nurturing and promoting creativity in the personal and collective development of the learners.

giving higher valuation to the learners’ freedom to explore and inquire, their developing awareness of the self and their identities, their questioning, challenging and self-learning habits, and enhancing sensitivity, compassion and empathy; and

supplementing national funding of a local initiative as long as it does not entail a recurrent cost.


The major objective of non-formal education is to carry out literacy campaigns involving non-government organisations, women's associations and youth groups, and institutionalise early childhood care. The utilisation of self-help and community cooperation for carrying out non-formal education projects emphasises equality and empowerment and enables clients to compete effectively in the market place. Non-formal education attempts to transform rather than supplement basic institutions by developing alternative forms of economic and political ventures that affect particular sectors.


In the first instance, the program will target the out-of-school youths and adults in the 13-34 year age group.

Table 6: Projected target group of youth for selected years, 1995 to 2004





Females aged 13 - 34

747811 852113 929610

Males aged 13 - 34

807096 919667 1003308

Number of staff

4 6 6

Source: Department of Education

Staffing levels do not include the deliverers of literacy programs who are paid through non-government organisations or work on a voluntary basis. The staff numbers referred to in the above table are staff in the office of the National Literacy and Awareness Secretariat. The present Department of Education budget allocated to literacy and awareness programs is approximately K370,000 per annum which falls considerably short of the requirements of this sector of education. Other government departments allocate funds which assist in overcoming poor adult literacy rates such as the Department of Health and the Department of Home and Youth Affairs.


The experiences of non-government organisations in village-level programs have made them experts in many aspects of non-formal education. Government departments as well as non-government organisations will jointly be involved in the planning, implementing, maintaining, and evaluation of non-formal education programs. Programs will include:

Sub-programs and projects

Sub-programs and project options are:

1.6 Educational Training Skills

Each of the above targets has implications for teachers’ work and their capacity to undertake that work.

For instance, the expansion of access to grades 11 and 12 will require a curriculum that provides greater choice. Teachers will be increasingly asked to develop school-based curriculum appropriate to the needs of students and local work contexts. It needs to be based on the competence and life opportunities of the students and not just on the entry requirements of the higher education sector. At the same time, advanced courses that challenge the more able students need to be developed.

1.7 Education for Better Living

No EFA goals and targets have been set for this after the Declaration of Education for All at the Jomtien Conference. It was decided that the EFA goals and curriculum reform included in the education reform process adequately catered for better living issues.


National Education Planning

The National Education Plan was released in 1995 in which four broad education strategies were developed from the national development objectives. These strategies, which continue in place today, are:

  1. The Literacy and Information Program is intended to help people understand the changes that are occurring in contemporary society.
  2. The Relevant Education For All Program is designed to develop a school system to meet the needs of Papua New Guinea and its people, which provides appropriately for the return of children to villages or to further education or training.
  3. The Education Access and Expansion Program which provides basic schooling for children.
  4. The Higher Education Program which gears resources to satisfy the qualified human resource requirements of the economy.

In addition to these strategies, education must prepare citizens who:

Strategies and Responsibilities for Early Childhood Education

The following strategies and responsibilities at the community, district, provincial, and national levels have been devised to assist with the successful implementation of early childhood education.

Community level:

Provincial/District level:

National level:

Strategies and Responsibilities for Primary Education

As part of the strategies for primary education different levels of responsibility are identified:

Community level:

Provincial/District level:

National level:


The Facilitating and Monitoring Unit (FMU) was established by the Department of Education to manage the implementation of the education reform process. AusAID established the Institutional Strengthening Project to assist the development and operation of FMU and ensure the overall sustainability of the reform.


There is considerable donor assistance to Papua New Guinea to achieve EFA and education reform objectives. For example:


The establishment of six Learning and Materials Production (LAMP) Centres to support elementary and adult literacy programs and the installation of solar power units in 320 primary schools throughout the country.

European Union

Support For Recurrent Activities

The European Union, under the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) has been providing grants to support some of the Department of Education’s recurrent activities since 1991. Activities which were supported included: Curriculum Development and Monitoring, Production and Distribution of Curriculum Materials, Community School Operations - NCD, High School Routine Maintenance and grants for equipment, National High School Maintenance, Inspection and Guidance Services, Technical College Operations, Pre-service Teacher Education, Teacher In-service Training, College of Distance Education and Vocational Centres.

Rural Elementary Schools

The European Union makes a most significant contribution in the development of Elementary schools, especially in the rural areas. The EU has accumulated some rich and, in PNG terms, quite unique experience in community mobilisation strategies through its Rural Water Supply Program - a similar approach is taken and lessons applied to facilitating the building of elementary schools.


Supply of Textbooks, Equipment and Materials to Grades 7 and 8 - Phase 1 & 2 (CASP)

Under this project textbooks, equipment and materials were supplied to the new grades 7 and 8 classes at primary schools which started in 1994, 1995 and 1996. The Australian CASP mechanism was used to supply the textbooks, equipment and materials. The total cost was about K10 million. Phase I deliveries are completed except for Simbu schools. Phase II and textbooks deliveries commenced in 1996. Areas of concern were (i) storage/security of equipment (ii) the extent of in-service training for grades 7 and 8 teachers in curriculum and the use of the equipment, and (iii) the potential to achieve more sustainable results in any future such activity by using Department of Education’s distribution system. The Department of Education needs to advise AusAID on these issues.

Elementary School Materials

This project is aimed at addressing the immediate materials required for elementary schools. The long term need will be addressed through the proposed infrastructure and curriculum materials program.

The government of Australia has made a commitment to provide up to K2 million in financial year 1995/1996 for assistance in support of the Elementary Materials Supply Project. The arrangements for the purchase and delivery of these materials are as follows.:

1. Supply of 1,000 Elementary Preparatory and 500 Elementary Grade one kits containing books for translation and materials to make books;

2. Supply of 1,500 set of Linking Cubes and Pattern blocks for Elementary classes;

3. Supply of 15,000 students maths texts and 1,000 teachers maths resource books for Elementary Preparatory classes;

4. Supply of 7,500 students maths texts and 500 teachers maths resource books for Elementary Grade one classes;

5. Supply of 1,500 Elementary Number Card kits; and

6. Supply of metal shipping containers for storage.

Several elementary teacher training workshops have been completed or are underway in some provinces. The Australian Government made available K211,751.99 to the Department of Education in 1997-98.

Institutional Strengthening to Department of Education

This project is aimed at upgrading measurement services capacity and strengthening planning, management and implementation of education reform.

Under the strengthening of the Measurement Services Unit (MSU) component, a new building for MSU was completed in 1999 and equipped with computers, MSU staff will undergo some training and technical assistance will be provided.

Under the Facilitating and Monitoring Unit (FMU) component, FMU officers will receive assistance so that they can work with provinces to develop their plans, statistical database for management, planning and monitoring will be established both at the national and provincial levels, training of RMPAs in computer based planning model, training of RMPAs and Provincial operators on database, trialing of national data collection, and training of Provincial Assistant Secretaries. AusAID will make available approximately K4,168,000.00 for the project.

Elementary Classrooms and Curriculum Materials

The Project Identification Mission made a number of proposals for this project. They are as follows:

1. for rural elementary schools, provision of building materials will be made and the community to undertake the labour;

2. for urban elementary schools, cash grants are suggested but the community must provide matching cash and labour; and

3. as part of this package curriculum materials will be supplied.

Primary Schools Infrastructure and Curriculum Materials

Under this package the proposals are that classrooms which will be vacated by grades 1 and 2 will be converted to specialist teaching spaces. A new double classroom block for administration/library and storage will be constructed. The upgrading of services will be made and textbooks will be supplied.

Community Schools Infrastructure and Library Books

The proposals are that existing school buildings will be upgraded, repaired and renovated and library books will be supplied to the schools.

High Schools Infrastructure and Curriculum Materials

The proposals are that existing school buildings will be converted to laboratories, new dormitories will be constructed and library books and curriculum materials will be supplied to the schools.

Upgrading of Department of Education Materials Distribution and Supply Unit Store

The proposal is to upgrade the print shop and materials stores and the training of national and provincial staff.

Development of Infrastructure Guidelines

This project proposal aims to develop and produce standard classroom designs to assist provinces in infrastructure planning. There are a large number of school sites which will require the same works packages. Standardisation will simplify project delivery, enable economies of scale in purchase and simplify asset management and maintenance.

Strengthening Provincial Infrastructure Planning and Management

This project proposal is aimed at strengthening provincial infrastructure planning skills of Department of Education staff and technical skills of Department of Works provincial staff so that they can provide technical assistance to the provinces. Training of selected staff is proposed.

Primary School Equipment - Phase 3

The aim of this project proposal is to supply the 1997 Primary schools with school equipment using the CASP Mechanism. A formal request has been made by the National Planning Office to AusAID.

World Bank

Current Projects

The World Bank provides funds for the Education Development Project. The life span for the project is five years, commencing in 1993 and terminating in 1997. This timeline has been extended to the end of 1998. Funds for the project are in-budget and are reimburseable on the basis of monthly expenditure reports. The Education Development Project consists of eight sub-projects as follows:

Library Development

The objective of this project is to promote literacy and improve the quality of education by providing appropriate library books for community, provincial high schools and national high schools and CODE centres. The total amount of money available for the project for the five-year period is K2,500,000.

Development Maintenance

The objective of this project is to upgrade the standard of facilities in provincial high schools, vocational centres and CODE by carrying out appropriate capital works in these institutions. The total cost for the project is K7,600,000.00.

Project Implementation Unit (PIU)

The objective of this project is to ensure smooth co-ordination and management of the World Bank funded projects. The PIU has been established within the Department of Education to perform this function. The total cost for the project over the planned period is K900,000.00.

Regional Management and Planning Advisers (RMPA)

The objective of this project is to improve the management and planning of education in the provinces by training Regional Planning Advisers who will then work with Provincial Education Planners to produce plans. Currently, three trainees are being trained. The total cost for the project over the planned period is K500,000.00.

Curriculum Development Reform

The objective of this project is to improve the quality of education at all levels of general education by reviewing, developing, printing and distributing curriculum materials to the schools. The agreed funding for the project over the planned period is K15,000,000.00.

Expansion of Inspections and Guidance officers

The objective of this project is to improve the quality of the advisory, inspection and supervisory functions of the Education Department by increasing the number of inspectors and guidance officers. The agreed level of funding over the planned period is K2,500,000.00.

New Zealand

PNG/New Zealand School Journal

The objective of this project is to promote literacy and to improve the quality of education by developing and producing Papua New Guinea School Journals. The project is jointly funded by the Governments of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Funding for this project is both in-budget and ex-budget. The total cost for the project is K1,594,600. In 1995, New Zealand has made available K330,000 and PNG made available K71,600.

United Nations

Support For Elementary Education

UNICEF has maintained an active interest in and has provided some funding for key reform activities including training of elementary teachers, piloting of elementary education, support for senior officers conference and exposing some senior officers to successful educational innovations in other countries.

Training of Regional Management and Planning Advisers

UNESCO and UNDP have been involved in the implementation of this component of the Education Development Project funded by the World Bank.

Population Education Project

The objective of this project is to educate students about population issues by incorporating such issues in the curriculum.

A project document has been completed and submitted to the National Planning Office for the purpose of securing funding from the United Nations Population Fund.

Adult literacy and Vernacular Story Writing

The aim of the proposal is to provide support for the literacy program and for the vernacular story writing. Discussions have been held between officials of the Department of Education and UNICEF regarding potential assistance.

Other organisations such as Red Cross, Church groups, Peace Corps, non-governmental organisations also contribute towards the education reform objectives.


Education expenditure

Information is presented in the Annex papers in relation to Indicators 7 and 8 but it is difficult to ascertain exact expenditures by provincial authorities in education.

The Organic Law (1995) directly facilitates the receipt of monies for education expenditure by provincial and district education authorities. Provincial budget estimates are unreliable as a means to assess this the overall expenditure on primary education and the realisation of EFA. Monies are easily moved to meet urgently perceived needs by provincial politicians.

Nonetheless, figures for 1997 and 1998, indicate to the best of available information, some 2.9 and 3.1 per cent of GNP respectively was expended on primary education.

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