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Schools in Bougainville PNG

2014-05-26 12.56.40

Above: Camillus Kabui a Bookgainville Leadership member introduces the concept of Kindles to Buin Primary School Head Teacher Nancy Kiata.

Current situation of Primary/elementary schools on Bougainville


There has been a positive improvement in the number of new elementary schools established in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Elementary Education Coordinator Sedi Palin said the number of existing schools in Bougainville were 383 at present which is 80% of the required elementary infrastructures in the Districts.

“We have 383 elementary schools operating at present and the maximum number of schools needed is around 400,” said Palin.

Palin said due to the current increase of elementary school children to about 27,000, ABG leaders and the community should change their mindset and focus more on the importance of elementary education.

He urged our leaders to put more emphasis on the development of elementary educations as it was the foundation of the Universal Basic Education Policy the ABG is embarking on.

“We should concentrate more on making sure our children have the interest and commitment to enroll and complete their basic elementary education. This will make a sustainable impact on the number of children attending classes at the upper primary and secondary schools,” said Palin.

Figures given by the Elementary office have shown 65 new elementary schools pending registration and a total of 856 teachers currently teaching at the elementary schools in the region.

The distribution of elementary schools throughout the Autonomous Region showed that

Buka 1 has 17 elementary schools;

Buka 2 has 27,

Selau Suir 17,

Tinputz 24,

Wakunai 30,

Kunua Keriaka & Hahon 16,

Torokina 18,

Arawa/Kieta 52,

Nissan/Atolls 20,

Bana 33,

Siwai 31,

Panguna 9

and Buin 21.

Palin added that in 2013, each District should propose and plan for the setting and registering of 3 new elementary schools development.

However, Palin has also challenged some teachers in remote schools to consider their job as a profession to fulfill and practice.

He said that teachers in remote schools had not been committed to their duties and have been absent from classes.

“Teachers in remote schools are not serious enough and today, teaching has been taken as just another job where they are getting paid for doing nothing. Teaching is all about punctuality, commitment and professionalism to live up to,” he stressed.

Palin added that schools should have an environment that was conducive to the students’ learning needs and have classrooms decorated with educational materials and good building infrastructure.

He said that Buka District was the only area that had almost all permanent building infrastructures.

The PNG constitution states that everyone has the right to literacy in a vernacular, a national lingua franca (Tok Pisin or Hiri Motu), and English. Everyone should be literate in any language he or she uses. The constitution does not specify how to do this, other than encourage government departments and NGO’s to be active in literacy. Until 1989, the government made no serious effort to make the general populace literate in the languages of Papua New Guinea.

In 1989, the national government addressed the need and demand for vernacular literacy. It created the language and Literacy Section within the Curriculum Development Division of the Department of Education. The policy developed states that: “we recommend the development of education programs to ensure that children, out-of-school youth, and adults become literate in Tokples, transfer their skills to Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu, or English, and maintain and expand their literacy skills in these languages”.

From 1992 to 2002 the number of schools increased by 175%, enrolments doubled and the number of teachers increased by 75%, reflecting largely the expansion of elementary education. In 2004 the literacy rate for 15-24 year old men was estimated to be 64% and 59% for women.

However, an estimated 680,000 children aged 6-14 remain out of school. In 2009 AusAID estimated the gross primary enrolment rate to be 72% and less than 50% in some provinces and districts. The net enrolment rate was seen to be less than 30% in some cases. These are considered some of the poorest sets of enrolment indicators worldwide.

However, according to a new survey conducted in five provinces of PNG from 2006-2011, by the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education(ASPBAE), the overall situation is indeed much worse than anticipated. The three key common findings of the surveys, conducted in New Ireland Province, National Capital District, Chimbu Province, Sandaun Province and Gulf Province, are that the literacy rates are very low (less than 5% in some cases), and that there is a true crisis in school education quality as well as a significant gender disparity.

Indeed, the report states that “More than 70% of respondents in all five provinces self-declared confidence in their ability to read and write in a national language. However, actual literacy rates in four of the five provinces were less than 15%, while in New Ireland Province the literacy rate was 25%. The most commonly cited reason for not attending or completing primary or secondary school was school fees. Cost factors, poor access and parental expectations to help at home or to work are other frequently listed barriers to completing primary and secondary school. The proportion of non-literate females is higher compared to males across all five surveyed provinces by at least 10 percentage points. In Chimbu Province, the non-literate rate for females was 40,9% is almost double the male non-literate rate of 21,3%.”

(Please see Research Papers for a link to the  PNG Education Experience Survey and Literacy Assessment – A Report on 5 Provinces, prepared by ASPBAE).

Academic research on PNG literacy

 Not enough has been written on literacy in Papua New Guinea and in the Pacific in general. The tremendous challenges faced by the populations in this part of the world to become literate would merit more research in this field.

Here are some links to articles which provide good insight into the situation in PNG. We will keep adding articles.

If you happen to come across a good article on literacy please email it to Anne-Sophie at the Canberra office at bbp@pngcanberra.org or bukbilongpikinini@gmail.com


Literacy in an Emergent Society: Papua New Guinea, by Naihuwo Ahai, SIL International 2004.



Improving the provision of basic education to the poor in Papua New Guinea, a case study by AusAID, May 2009.



PNG Education Experience Survey and Literacy Assessment, A Report on Five Provinces; New Ireland, NCD, Chimbu, Saundaun and Gulf Provinces, a survey carried out by the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education, 2011.



Addressing Localised Student Absenteeism and School Withdrawal, An Action Research Strategy, September 2010, The National Reseach Institute, by Patricia Paraide, Longamel Kippel, Arnold Kukari, James Agigo & Kaminiel Irima.



Writing the Wrongs, International Benchmarks on Adult Literacy, based on research funded by the education for all global monitoring report 2006 and UNESCO November 2005.




Here is an excellent paper on chronic poverty and PNG

Chronic Poverty Research Centre, Background Paper for the Chronic Poverty Report 2008-2009, Chronic Poverty in PNG, by Diana Cammark.