Papua New Guinea: Gathering COVID-19 data to improve decision-making

In Papua New Guinea, baseline surveys are helping gather data to inform about the impact of COVID-19 on the education system and better respond to it.

August 24, 2021 by Judith Reen, and Meggie Kua Dingi, UNICEF Papua New Guinea
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3 minutes read
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Teacher at Membok Primary at Upper Fly is interviewed for the COVID-19 Baseline. UNICEF PNG/2021
Teacher at Membok Primary at Upper Fly is interviewed for the COVID-19 Baseline.
UNICEF PNG/2021

With support from the Global Partnership for Education and the Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership, the Department of Education in Papua New Guinea continues to roll out its Education in Emergencies Response and Recovery Plan.

The plan includes a back-to-school campaign, COVID-19 messaging to schools, learning support and incentive packs for teachers and students, and handwashing stations, among other interventions.

With support from the Research and Evaluation Division (RED) and UNICEF, a baseline data collection was established to gather quality data to share among partners. This data, while delayed by two extended lockdowns, remains timely given the recent growth in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Tablets procured to allow the surveys to take place. Credit: UNICEF PNG/2021
Tablets procured to allow the surveys to take place.
UNICEF PNG/2021
Enumerator John Wartobovo surveys a senior teacher at Haicoast Primary School in Lae. Schools faced severe resource shortages and capacity constraints before the pandemic hit. Credit: UNICEF PNG/2021
Enumerator John Wartobovo surveys a senior teacher at Haicoast Primary School in Lae. Schools faced severe resource shortages and capacity constraints before the pandemic hit.
UNICEF PNG/2021

COVID-19 baseline surveys

The COVID-19 baseline surveys demonstrate how the adversity of the pandemic can bring together agencies, NGOs and other partners to work towards shared goals.

“These surveys are an important part of our COVID-19 response,” says Brian Monie, Assistant Secretary for RED. “We’re working closely together with partners; it has been a team effort. Our RED team devised the surveys, UNICEF coded the tools and we all trained the enumerators. Together we also coordinated survey bookings, travel procurement and logistics – this was a huge effort given the remoteness of many schools”.

Deputy Secretary Annemarie Kona said:

“Through these surveys, we are confident we can gather good quality data to better inform our understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on the education system in Papua New Guinea. The results will not only be a baseline to better inform our interventions as part of our response to this pandemic but can be used for our planning and policy going forward”.

She added: “This work has inspired us particularly working in tandem with partners and learning from each other - this cannot be understated. We are stronger because of our ability to work together and the support from donors and UNICEF. We are very grateful for the funding support we have received from the Global Partnership for Education and the PNG-Australia Partnership. COVID-19 is impacting our schools in PNG and we need data from these surveys to provide the evidence, so we can continue to help our teachers and students”.

UNICEF Monitoring Officer Benson Hahambu added: “Two of the most important pieces of equipment needed for the surveys are tablets and power banks. The enumerators need tablets to enter data collected in the field, and power banks in areas where electricity is not always available. With our partners’ support, UNICEF procured more than 30 tablets and power banks for the Department of Education. This equipment is essential to collecting good survey data, which will be shared with our partners, other stakeholders and the Education in Emergencies Cluster”.

These efforts will contribute to the implementation of the PNG’s COVID-19 response and recovery while strengthening the resilience of the education system to respond to future emergencies.

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East Asia and Pacific: Papua New Guinea

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