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Papua New Guinea





A teacher’s house at Milne Bay.

The PNG education system faces a range of challenges. These include poor access to schools, low student retention rates and issues in the quality of education. It is often hard for children to go to school, particularly in the rural areas, because of distance from villages to schools, lack of transport, and cost of school fees. There are not enough schools or classrooms to take in all school-aged children, and often the standard of school buildings is very poor.

For those children who do go to school, retention rates are low. Teacher quality and lack of required teaching and educational materials are ongoing issues. Church-run schools make a huge contribution to education in PNG with more than 50 per cent of elementary and primary schools administered by churches.

The Governments of PNG and Australia have agreed to prioritise education and are working together to address these challenges.

Australia is also promoting opportunities for all by helping to empower women to participate in the economy, leadership and education because of the critical role women play in supporting development.

Australia is supporting the PNG Government’s education plans and priorities, including the National Education Plan 2005–14 and the Universal Basic Education Plan 2010–19. The Governments of PNG and Australia have also committed to improve university quality through the Implementation Plan to the PNG Universities Review that was led by Sir Rabbie Namaliu and Professor Ross Garnaut.  All PNG universities are participating in the quality reform program being undertaken as a response to this review.

PNG education plans

A National Plan for Education 2005–2014 [PDF 2.9mb] (external website)

Universal Basic Education Plan 2010–2019 [PDF 3.4mb] (external website)

PNG Universities Review

PNG Universities Review

PNG Universities Review Implementation Plan




heading fold Priorities

  • Increase the net enrolment rate at elementary, primary and secondary levels.
  • Reduce maximum class sizes for elementary, primary and lower secondary levels.
  • Support faster progress towards universal basic education.
  • Improve access to quality education at basic, secondary, technical and tertiary education levels, and particularly to increase the percentage of students who are female.
  • Improve the performance of students completing primary and secondary school.
  • Strengthen PNG’s own systems to deliver education services, including procurement, teacher training, and the delivery of education infrastructure and materials.

Increasing access to education

Watch this video on YouTube

Australian aid specialist Edwina Betts works with her local counterparts in Bougainville to rebuild health and education systems.

Watch this video on YouTube


Development priority: Education

Initiative Budget
Program description
Australia Awards PNG $16.66 million Through the Australia Awards PNG Facility, the program manages Australian Development Awards for study in Australia and PNG. The program ensures the best people are selected to undertake relevant courses and return home following completion of study, to contribute to PNG’s social and economic development. More
Promoting Gender Equality and the Elimination of Gender Based Violence $2.55 million This initiative is improving the lives of PNG girls and women through supporting improved access to education and health, increasing their voice in decision-making and leadership, encouraging empowerment and ending family and sexual violence. More
PNG Education Program $76.69 million Assists the Government of PNG to eliminate school fees, build classrooms, deliver textbooks and train teachers. Funds key activities and reforms in higher education institutions. More
Post secondary education $2.759 million Strengthening and improving quality in higher education, including technical and vocational education and training in PNG. More
The Incentive Fund - Phase 3 $20.4 million* The Incentive Fund is a partnership between the Governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea that supports well-managed organisations to access funding for projects that have a strong development impact for Papua New Guineans. More

*The AUD20.4 million is the allocation for 2011–12 FY which includes AUD17.2 million for the grant component and AUD 3.2 millon for the managing contractor’s fees and milestone payments.



Last reviewed: 26 February, 2014