Minister's Statement to Parliament

GOOD DAY TO YOU ALL, Mr. Speaker, my colleague Ministers and Honourable Members of Parliament.

Firstly, I must acknowledge and salute the efforts of the men and women in the education sector who tirelessly work under difficult circumstances and situations to deliver education to our children in this country.

The education system of Papua New Guinea is comprised of about 13,000 institutions enrolling 1.9 million students with 48,000 teachers teaching in the basic and post-basic education.

The growth and participation in all level of the education sector has been remarkable since 2000. Also, gender equity in access to education has been achieved since 2007, and there is an emerging evidence of improvement in the gender parity.

The GoPNG has been able to use recent economic growth to increase investment in education. Although improvements can be seen in the system, a further increase in investment will be required to achieve education developmental goals.

Beginning in 2012, the O'Neill-Dion Government's Tuition Fee Free (TFF) Policy has provided education access to all children in PNG and there has been a 40% growth in enrolment since 2012.

The Government has been very enthusiastic in its pursuit of these six (6) Goals:

1. Early Childhood Education;

2. Universal Basic Education (UBE);

3. Learning Opportunities for Youths &

 

Adult and Life skills;

4. Adult Literacy;

5. Gender Parity and Equality; and most importantly,

6. Quality in Education

These Goals are interwoven into the fabric of the Education Plan for the coun-try and are inter-linked to the education development Goals of the government. Significant improvement can be seen since the GoPNG introduced the Tuition Fee Free policy in 2012. Additionally, the GoPNG is proposing for what I refer to as "Right to Education" (Compulsory Education policy).

Although access and participation in the education sector has improved, the current objective of the Outcome Based Education (OBE) Curriculum, which was only introduced in the last decade has received much criticism.

In 2011, the NEC directed the Department to review the OBE. The Task Force review concluded that the main causes for the failure of OBE was that the concept was conceived by outside experts and it was difficult to us and to manage this system at the National and sub-national level. In addition there was inadequate planning and resources to support the full implementation of OBE. The majority of teachers in fact did not fully understand the conceptual framework of OBE.

To address the situation, GoPNG, NDoE and stakeholders will now have to work together to ensure that mistakes of the past are not repeated when implementing the new curriculum.

At this juncture, it gives me great pleasure to announce to this Honourable House and the people of this country that this Government will see the exit of old OBE and introduction of the new Standard Based Education (SBE) curriculum commencing in the 2015 academic year.

I am also happy to inform the House that the hard working officers of the Curriculum Devel-opment Division of the Department has been working tirelessly over the last six (6) months to develop the SBE curriculum.

In preparation of the SBE in 2015, the Department of Education has been instructed to immediately conduct awareness and pro-vide In-service Training for all teachers at the elementary level and lower primary level from Grade 3 to 5.

The GoPNG needs to fully understand that it must continue to invest heavily over the coming years to ensure that the curriculum is fully developed with appropriate teaching materials, teacher training and significant amount of awareness must be raised with all stakeholders.

 

MAJOR POLICIES, STRATEGIES & REFORM INITIATIVES IN EDUCATION AND LEARNING

Let me inform the House on the major poli-cies, strategies and reform initiatives in education and learning. The details are given in the 2014 State of Education in Papua New Guinea Report of the Department of Education.

The GoPNG has put in a tremendous effort to see increase in access and improvements in retention and quality of education and this effort has been driven by a number of important policies and programmes. These initiatives have been developed by the NDoE in collaboration with many key stakeholders.

The initial major education expansion and quality initiative was undertaken in 1991, when an education sector review was set up with a remit of increasing access and retention by increasing education coverage and the absorptive capacity of the education system by relocating grade 7 and 8 from high schools to community schools and introducing elementary schools.

The aim of this curriculum reform was to make curriculum more relevant by providing a curriculum that is more closely linked to children's cultures and that will prepare them to go back to their communities as well as for further education and employment.

Since then, a number of education policies and plans have been developed and Implemented with the goal of making education universally available to all Papua New Guineans.

These included the Provincial Education Plans, School Learning Improvement Plans, Student Behaviour Management Policy, the Gender Equity in Education Policy, Special Education Plan, Language Policy, Literacy, and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Strategic Plan.

The most noteworthy plans include:

 

National Education Plan (NEP) 2005-2014, which was meant to serve as a road map for education in PNG. The prime objective of this plan is to provide a basic education for all and to give the opportunity for further education or training for all completing nine years of

basic education.

Education Sector Strategic Plan 2010-2030, which was drafted in response to the need to align line departments' development mandates, programs, and activities with the Vision 2050 and the National Development Strategic Plan 2030. Described in this plan are the goals, mis-sion statements, outcomes, indicators, and the strategies that the NDoE will be guided by and pursued in the next 20 years.

 

Universal Basic Education (UBE) Plan 2010-2019, which was the first serious attempt by the GoPNG to fast-track the achievement of the goal of UBE. The plan presents a situation analysis of the progress of UBE core indicators to date and also presents issues that hinder progress in access, retention, quality of teacher and learning, and education management and equity, as well as possi-ble strategies to address them.

Two related programs were also created to achieve the aims of the National Education Plan and targets. The first program was the Education Access and Expansion Program, which was aimed at providing basic education for all children, and the second program was the Relevant Education for All Program, which was aimed at developing an education system that will meet the needs of PNG and its people and providing appropriately for the return of children to their communities, for formal employment, or for further education and training.

PNG development partners have implemented programs, in collaboration with the GoPNG, to support the country's education priorities, programs and outcomes.

These included the Primary & Secondary Teacher Education Project, and Curriculum Reform & Implementation Project (CRIP), PNG School Journal Project, the Basic Edu-cation Capacity Building, Textbook Procure-ment and Distribution, EQUITV Program Expansion and the Institutional Strengthen-ing Project.

 

TUITION FEE FREE EDUCATION POLICY The most significant policy introduced and implemented by the Government is the Tuition Fee Free Education (TFF) policy, which was initiated in 2011 and first implemented in 2012. The TFFE Policy takes the form of subsidized school fees for all students in PNG from elementary up to secondary and vocational institutions as well as those in open distance learning, special education institutions and permitted schools.

The policy saw the abolishment of the school fees, particularly for the basic level of education, and the subsidization of fees for the post basic education institutions, except universities.

The aim of the policy is to increase access to the different levels of education. However, it is increasingly evident that the quality of education is being compromised. Therefore to attain the desired targets in access, retention, and quality of education, equal emphasis should be given to address the impediments of achieving these outcomes, particularly the outcomes relating to the quality of learning.

The TFF is normally distributed as per Ministerial Policy Statement (MPS) at beginning of each academic year.

In 2014, the MPS set out the guidelines on how the government would pay schools the TFF funds totaling K605 million appropriated for the year.

The MPS applies to all education authorities and students attending schools and institu-tions within the National Education system (NES) that are currently registered and operating including Flexible Open Distance Education (FODE), Inclusive Education Resource Centres (IERC) and Approved Permitted Schools (APS)

The Government's TFF means that parents and guardians of students attending member schools and institutions of the NES do not have to pay the approved 2014 maximum fee limits set by the National Education Board (NEB). Instead, the National Government allocated funds in the National Budget will pay in full the maximum fee limits from Elementary Prep to Grade 12 and Voca-tional Centres.

This Government introduced the TFF policy and is committed to ensuring that all school age children in Papua New Guinea have a right to receive basic quality education. It has been a deliberate action taken by the National Government to relieve the financial burden off the parents since 2012. Nevertheless parents are still required to pay for other non-tuition cost of education such as school uniforms, transport and lunches.

TFF is a strategic government policy which aims to see that no school principal, governing boards or any education authority within the NES is to deny any student from receiving education due to lack of payment of any school fee, including project fees.

Also in 2014, the National Government made a one-off payment fees approved by NEB for students attending Flexible, Open and Distance Education, Inclusive Education Resource Centers and Approved Permitted Schools.

The Approved Permitted Schools only received an Education subsidy and may continue to charge other fees considered as relevant to the operations of their schools, but must have prior approval from either the Provincial Education Board or NEB.

In February 2014 the Government paid out nearly K197 million to a total of 8,419 schools with student enrolment number totally 1,547,621.

The break-up of amount by level of school is:

Elementary - K27.0 million Primary - K92.2 million Secondary - K66.8 million Vocational - K 9.7 million FODE - K 2.2 million Special Education - K 0.2 million

4,132 school are not included in the above list due to operational status and unconfirmed bank details, however have been allocated their TFF dues as soon as status were verified and bank details become available.

NEB Approved Maximum Fee Limits The TFF is distributed to schools according to the maximum fee limit set by the NEB. In 2014, the approved NEB Maximum Tuition Fee was:

Elementary (EP, E1 –E2) K110.00 Primary (Grades 3 –8) K297.00 Lower Secondary (Day) K990.00 Lower Secondary (Boarding) K1,650.00 Upper Secondary (Day) K1,089.00 Upper Secondary (Boarding) K1,650.00 Vocational (Day) K990.00 Vocational (Boarding) K1,430.00 Flexible & Open Distance K110.00 Approved Permitted Schools K100.00 Inclusive Education K200.00

With the exception of the Approved Permitted and Inclusive Education Schools, the Govern-ment contributes or pays the maximum tuition fee for all schools in the National Education System.

QUALITY & EQUITY IN EDUCATION INTERVENTIONS In 2014, NEC had approved a School's Expenditure Structure for TFF to ensure that all children in schools receive a quality education. The onus is on School Heads and the Governing Boards to ensure that the funds are properly budgeted according to their School Learning and Improvement Plans (SLIP) so that all components of education are covered. The NEC approved three key components of the 2014 TFF and these are:

1. School administration component …....30% 2. Teaching and Learning Resources ….....40% 3. School Infrastructure component t…….30%

The Department of Education is mandated to ensure that all children in schools receive a quality education. This requires sufficient supply of quality teachers, students and teachers' curriculum resource materials, quality assurance and infrastructure development, which ultimately means more resources are required.

To start with the K37.5 million savings from 2012 and 2013 held in TFF Subsidi-ary Trust Accounts have been allocated to government priority interventions in order to enhance the quality education.

NEC decision 94/2014 approved for the establishment of an Education Infrastruc-ture and Quality Improvement Com-mittee (EIQIC) and directed that K7 mil-lion be identified within the Department for the Secretariat as a complement of the QIE package.

The balance of K30.5 million will be allo-cated to schools infrastructure, particu-larly classrooms and teachers' houses for Secondary/High schools (K27.5 million) and other Ministerial Innovation and Intervention (K3.0 million).

TRIALLING OF TFF COMMODITY COMPONENT Under the 2013 TFF funding, K40 million was allocated to trial a Schools Commodity Delivery System. This trial started in 2014 and is continu-ing. Under this program, schools will receive basic teaching and learning mate-rials such as exercise books, pencils, biros, rulers, and rubber erasers, school bags and Bibles. Flexible Open Distance Education, Inclusive Education Resource Centres and Approved Permitted Schools are not included under this trial.

SCHOOL PROJECT FEES Project fees may be charged by schools, but it must be less than K200 and must

be approved by the Provincial Education Boards. No student is to be refused enrolment or class attendance due to non-payment of project fees.

All schools will be required to open and maintain an operating school bank account and must maintain a minimum bank balance of K100 in their accounts. This is to minimize the closure of bank accounts and improve the efficiency of TFF remittance of funds to school accounts. The Education Act mandates the Secretary for Education to register schools. Schools that are deemed to be closed due to non-appointment of teachers, no students enrolment, no acquittals of previous TFF payments are amongst other mandatory requirement that may see a school being deregistered by the Secretary for Education after due verifications.

There are schools that failed to submit their national school census forms to the Department for which no data is record-ed against the schools. Such schools may not receive any funds from the Tuition Fee Free funding. Schools in this category must submit the data as soon as possi-ble. Disciplinary action will be taken against heads of schools that don't submit or inflate enrolment data in the census forms.

ADMINISTRATION PROCESSES AND COMPLIANCE The administration of the Tuition Fee Free/Education Subsidized Fee at the Department level is managed by a team of officers appointed by the Secretary to oversee and monitor the implementation of this policy. Provincial Education Advisors must also set up a similar TFF teams to manage the administration of TFF Subsidy and Commodity Component in the Province and provide a report to the National Education Department by October of the School year.

All finances will be managed strictly in accordance with financial procedures, instructions, laws and regulations as

stipulated under the Public Finance (Management) Act of 1995, and will be subjected to audit inspections by the Department's Internal Auditors and Provincial Administration Auditors.

The public and stakeholders can be informed of TFF funds received by each school and province in the print media and/or on the Department of Education website: http:www.education.gov.pg

In conclusion, Hon. Members will agree that the National Government's TFF policy is aimed at meeting the Education for All, the Millennium Development Goals and all the PNG Government and Education Sector Plans, Goals and Out-comes.

This year 2014, the government has again committed to relieve parents from the responsibility of paying tuition fees. Education is a shared responsibility and there-fore all stakeholders and beneficiaries are en-couraged to cooperate and participate meaning-fully to achieve the aim of this policy.

From 2015, the government will ensure that there is better accountability and transparency in the disbursement of the TFF and its use by schools.

Finally, it is my sincere hope that key agencies will help the education sector towards achieving its goals, but it is clear that GoPNG will have to invest considerably more money if we are to achieve our goals and improve quality education through implementation of Standard Based Education curriculum.

Thank you.

HON. NICK KUMAN, MP Minister for Education