The free education policy was implemented at different stages in PNG since independence. The ‘Implementation’ in the earlier years was short-lived because they were introduced just before the national general elections.
The policy lacks strategic planning. This article aims to put the spotlight on what can be done now, immediately.
Sustaining free education policy
PNG Insight’s in-depth analysis of the TFF (Tuition Fee Free Policy since 2012), shows that the Free Education Policy misses the Education for All Agenda 2030. Though the policy intent was valid, there were serious issues affecting the funding, implementation, monitoring and governing aspects of the policy.
After 10 years (2012 – 2022), there is little to show for – no policy platform, no review and no strategic planning.
So, how does the PNG govt, now or after the election, provide a STRONG POLICY PLATFORM for the Free Education Policy to really address the Education for ALL agenda?
Here is a Tweet that aims to put the spotlight on this very issue – and get people talking!
The Tuition Fee Free Policy since 2012 needs reviewing. There are serious issues needed addressing.
The govt must STOP on-impulse funding.
1) creating an edu fund pool (like SWF), and
2) enact a Free Education Bill/Act that protects the fund.#EducationForAll#EduTalk pic.twitter.com/RLv1QoIV6D
— P.N.G. Insight (@PNG_Insight) January 10, 2022
India’s Education for All Act
The Rights to Education Act in India sets in stone the government’s responsibility to educate every child. It is no longer a political point-scoring agenda, but a development agenda.
In brief, the Act is titled “the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act” was passed by the Indian Parliament in August 2009. When the Act came into force in 2010, India became one among 135 countries where education is a fundamental right of every child. [RTE, 2010]
In the PNG context, this is a timely discussion. The country just cannot wait for elections to come around so that petty politicians can go around ‘kicking the TFF policy like a rugby ball’.
Senior Education officers should NOT just sit up there and let ‘blue flies‘ zoom past. It is time to appropriately look at what is happening around the world and advise the government accordingly.
Education Fund (similar to the SWF) – why?
The Sovereign Wealth Fund is not a new concept, it has been around for a long time. Yet PNG govts, past and present, are finding it hard to come to terms with it.
In fact, the ‘SWF is not a recent development but a product of more than a century of evolution. The first SWF can be traced back to the U.S Texas Permanent School Fund in 1854 which got its funding from oil revenue. The original $2 million fund was created for the purpose of helping the public schools in Texas and has since snowballed to more than $30 billion today.’ [PNG Insight Writer’s Corner]
Since 2012, the PNG govt spent around K600 million per year on keeping the TFF policy going.
At this average spending, about K6 BILLION will have been spent on TFF education policy to 2022 – that’s billion with nine zeros. K6,000,000,000.
Funding this policy is like ‘looking for the loose coins’ in the pocket. For the last 10 years, the PNG govt simply looks to the donors and what tax money they have to keep the policy going.
In retrospect, a clever govt will have invested the money and let the interests pay for the policy.
When should the PNG govt enact a law on Education For All?
At present, PNG does not have a Right to Education for All Act. What we see for the last 10 years is simply politics at play.