The Government of Papua New Guinea, together with development partners in the education sector, is launching “Boosting Education Standards Together in PNG (BEST PNG)”, a new program to address the country’s low student learning outcomes, especially in math and science.
The country strives to improve students’ learning outcomes and deserves credit for its remarkable achievements in recent years. Since the government introduced the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) policy in 2012, the net enrollment rate for basic education (grades 1 to 8) has been on a steady increase (71% in 2012 to 76% in 2016). Government spending on education has also grown from 21% in 2012 to 24% in 2017, resulting in an increase in the number of teachers, which led to lower pupil/teacher ratio (35 students per teacher in 2016, compared to 37 students per teacher in 2012).
These improvements, however, have not yet translated into better learning outcomes for students. A recent early grade learning assessment (EGRA) in the National Capital District shows that one in every two Grade 3 students is not able to read fluently in English.
Another learning assessment, the Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy (PILNA), conducted in 2015, reported that about 50% of Grade 5 students who took part in the assessment failed to reach the numeracy proficiency expected for that grade.