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Feature story - Schools in PNG lacks basic learning infrastructure

Schools in PNG lacks basic learning infrastructure

THERE is an urgent need to reform the educational system to achieve universal primary education in Papua New Guinea. 

Even after 40 years of independence, PNG has been struggling to educate an estimated 2 million elementary- and primary-aged children and faces numerous challenges in providing education for all.

Many schools in PNG do not have classrooms, teachers, and basic facilities. As a result, the children are losing interest in going to school. The children dropped out of school so as to assist their families in the household and agricultural activities. It also reveals that the dropout rate of girls is more than that of the boys due to the gender disparity in the country. It was also noted that budgetary allocations should be increased so as to improve the infrastructural facilities and encourage the children to attend primary school and thus achieve the Millennium Development Goal/Education for All in PNG.

Schools in rural and remote PNG are often rickety buildings without walls. Classrooms echo with the absence of chairs and desks as children sit on the floor before a teacher without adequate training, support or learning resources.

The Yangoru Secondary School in the East Sepik Province is of no exception.

The school is currently in bad condition and needs a major facelift to its existing and new infrastructures to address over crowdedness.

It is a day school and has a population of about 700 students and 28 teaching staff. The school has Upper Secondary and Lower Secondary which is rapidly deteriorating.

The school has had over the years produced many great leaders of this country however, it lacks the basic learning facilities.   

The school is in the home of the Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry and Member for Yangoru Saussia Hon. Minister Hon Richard Maru.

School principal Samuel Pongiura expressed this week that Yangoru secondary is relying heavily on tuition fee free (TFF) funds allocated by the national government of K4040, 000 which received last year and K220, 000 still outstanding.

East Sepik provincial government only allocated K200, 000 under education infrastructure but is not sufficient because school has got several projects which are yet to be completed.

“Under the TFF funds, 30% for curriculum, another 30% for infrastructure and rest is for administration. This is too small as the school is badly affected due to the current economic crises, we have incomplete projects like 3 in one classroom, we need dining hall, teachers houses, classrooms, dormorities, community hall among others,” he said.

There are 28 teachers’ house, but only 15 houses are seemly occupied by teachers while remaining13 were completely deteriorated, some teachers are living in their villages and have to walk five to 10 km every day to the school for teaching duties.

Academically, Yangoru secondary performed well, most students were selected to further their studies at tertiary institutions.

“The school was established around 1970s and produced prominent leaders in the country. Classrooms are overcrowded, shortage of learning facilities and to cater for the increasing number of students enrolment, we need classrooms, dormorities, ablution blocks for boys and girls, teachers’ houses. Currently teachers are also sharing one house with two teachers. High turn-over of grade nine and 11 enrolment experiences shortage of classrooms and overcrowded, and this is a bad sign.  

“We want students to live in the school, academically we are fit but we can’t continue to learn and live when all basic infrastructures are dilapidated for the rest of our lives. Although we are ready for the universal basic education,” he said.

Last year, 94 grade 12 students were selected to tertiary institutions and that was a bonus for the school.

Throwing spanner into the works, the school only received K72, 000 TFF grants for this year and still waiting for K550, 000 from the national government through the education department.

To solve this barriers, the school had submitted a project proposal worth K14.5 million through public investment program to the Department of Implementation and Rural Development and National Planning for overall infrastructure development to eventuate.

If the funding under the public investment program is approved, the school would see a major facelift for all deteriorated infrastructures and students can live and learn in a more conducive environment.  

School Principal Pongiura stressed that accessing quality education is an ongoing challenge for parents in PNG. By partnering with communities we empower school leaders, teachers and children to shape their own future.

He said there were many students who do not attend schools (are located in rural areas), where schools and teachers are not readily accessible, and where opportunity costs limit attendance.

Pongiura said last year’s result were very good, 61% of the students were selected for grade 11 but government must focus more on education facilities so that universal basic education remains a national goal.

Moreover, not all provinces support the national goal or see the need to provide basic education to all citizens. Consequently, many provinces have focused on expanding their secondary schools and but not their primary ones.

There has been a widespread belief that educational development would lead to an accelerated economic growth, more wealth and income distribution, greater equality of opportunity, availability of skilled human power, a decline in population growth, national unity, and political stability. This belief has made many individuals and nations to invest immensely in education.

Samson Kendeman- is a media advisor of the Department of Implementation & Rural Development. Send comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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