In Papua New Guinea, tuition fees hold many parents back from providing for their children’s education. As a result, nearly a quarter of school-aged children receive no formal education.
Addressing this issue, the government recently allocated 238 million kinas (USD 112 million) to PNG’s free education program. Covering all student fees up to grade 10, the program is estimated to reach 11,000 schools and 1.3 million students.
Kabaira School kids while free education would seem to be a good thing, educationists worry that higher enrollment will only lead to higher retention. And without some kind of monetary component involved, parents’ could begin to feel less responsible for their children’s education.
All agree that the program will negatively impact student learning. Ugwalubu Mowana, the National Secretary of PNG’s Teacher’s Association, states: ”We are concerned that free education may have a response where the high enrollments mean there will be crowded classrooms and teacher performance will be affected and learning will be affected…You need to increase significantly the number of teachers, train them properly and provide the proper learning supports and facilities.”
Last year, around 2,000 teachers graduated from training but just as many teachers were suspected of leaving the education sector.
“That is not going to be different this year and next year unless the attitude of the government in terms of funding is changed. By 2018, the number of teachers is forecast to be around 165,000. Currently, we only have 42,000 teachers practicing in the classrooms.”
The Teacher’s Union is currently preparing submissions for the National Education Board, requesting an increase in the number of teachers attending training colleges. Will graduating more teachers help to compensate for the rising number of children in the classroom?
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