TOPIC: Education Financing
ORGANIZATION: Papua New Guinea Education Advocacy Network (PEAN)
SUB-SECTOR: Lifelong Learning (SDG4)
Financing adult literacy in Papua New Guinea has been the lowest of all priorities in the past fifteen years under the millennium development and EFA goals. Adult Literacy, although is established all over the country through civil society organizations, faith-based and community-based have all been managed out of the pockets of the civilians. Government has not declared financing assistance in this sub-sector. The Department’s coordinating arm of adult literacy the National Literacy Awareness Secretariat (NLAS) is limited and therefore not coordinated literacy in the non-formal education; however, funding has always been the issue for this division. Adult literacy program is equally important due to its accessibility, inclusiveness, timely delivery and strong community presence. Funding adult literacy is mandated by the development partners to be 6% of the national education budget. Realising the potential in adult literacy and its contribution to national development in United States, Germany and South Africa, and the fact that some countries have formalized holistic education framework has contributed to progressive and ongoing educational opportunities, hence the lifelong learning concept instead of adult literacy attributed to policy bias.
The National Census in 2000 which is the baseline for literacy statistics revealed that PNG has one of the lowest literacy rates among its Pacific neighbours. But while many may argue that adult literacy was an insignificant contributor of literacy statistics, the correlation between formal and informal literacy was sufficiently represented. PEAN research findings confirmed that literacy crisis was right across both informal and formal learning and included school-aged youths who were functionally illiterate. This is further consolidated by a number of young people who leave school and do not make a living after they have completed their basic education. The UNSDG4 calls for quality education and lifelong learning as key to transformative and mutual actions’ for achieving the targets. Since the millennium development and EFA goals implementation, civil society has never been a part of the education budget sharing nor decision making. The globally agreed target for adult literacy (now lifelong learning) was 20% of national budget, out of which 6% is allocated to adult literacy. PEAN is concerned that lifelong learning will suffer the same budget constraints if the Government continue to focus on financing 8% (2016 budget). Lifelong Learning is not implemented at classroom level as it is believed to be curricula activities outside of the classroom coupled with trade skills (formal TVET) or soft skills (informal TVET) also employable skills.
PEAN believes that the 2016 budget of 8% unlike 11% in 2015 is still below the globally agreed target. PNG as a member of the United Nations signed and agreed to fund 20% of the national budget for education. The 20% funding will give the Department of Education K2.8 billion annually. The priority for the Government on integral human development will make a big difference; however, Government priority Pillar 1 is ‘economic’. While proponents of this pillar argue that money will sustain human lives, however, illiterate population will never be able to make financial decisions. They are prone to aid corruption and mismanagement due to ignorance. PEAN believes that this annually allocated budget to the Department of Education will result in 6% of the finance given to adult literacy activities around the country at a cost of K168 million. This is sufficient funds to enable and enhance adult literacy programs and skills training given the sound financial management and monitoring systems of civil society organizations. PEAN believes that the Government can raise K2.8billion to address quality education and lifelong learning for all Papua New Guineans.