The bilateral relationship between Papua New Guinea and Australia is transitioning to a more contemporary economic and strategic partnership, rather than one dominated by aid. Papua New Guinea and Australia have a long history of cooperation in education and it forms a key aspect of the ongoing partnership. Australia's Foreign Policy White Paper 2017 recognises that a stable and prosperous Papua New Guinea, with a growing economy, is one of Australia's highest foreign policy priorities. The White Paper emphasises the importance of working with partner governments to strengthen people to people links, skills, leadership and supporting human development outcomes.
Australia is supporting these priorities by investing in enhancing Papua New Guinea's education system and leadership capability. Australia and Papua New Guinea have a mutual interest in Papua New Guinea being able to take full advantage of its economic and human potential. Investments in human capital have been shown to improve employment rates and earnings, and offer significant social rates of return. Just one extra year of schooling can increase an individual's earnings by up to 10 per cent.
The goal of Australia's investments in Papua New Guinea's education sector is for Papua New Guinea citizens to gain the skills and knowledge to take advantage of employment and leadership opportunities. Australia's investments are organised around three priority areas: i) foundations – supporting literacy and numeracy skills in the early years of school as the necessary foundation for progressing through schooling and into the workforce, ii) skills and productivity – helping the tertiary sector to meet industry demand for skills in support of economic growth, resilience and to enable social mobility, and iii) leadership – supporting leadership capability, which is crucial for future governance and stability.
Supporting Papua New Guinea's leadership in education
These priority areas are directly relevant to supporting the Government of Papua New Guinea deliver against the Papua New Guinea Vision 2050 statement, priorities made under the Alotau Accord II and the Medium Term Development Plan 2018-2022. These priorities include enabling stronger economic participation through:
- quality teaching and learning;
- expanded skills based training;
- empowerment and service delivery at district and provincial level; and
- greater capacity building through strengthened leadership.
Australia's agreed complementary priorities, as outlined in the Foreign Policy White Paper 2017 include: investing in tertiary skills and education; economic resilience and social mobility; training emerging leaders; and investing in people-to-people links. Australia's investment choices respond to these priorities.
Australia recognises the Government of Papua New Guinea's sovereign responsibility to deliver education services to its population and that our assistance is insufficient to address the sector's shortcomings. Australia's investments will focus on areas in which Australia's experience, expertise and funding can support Papua New Guinea to achieve its own priorities. Australia will focus on demonstrating effective approaches in selected sub-sectors and locations, as well as supporting system strengthening to broaden and sustain these approaches. Applying and sharing lessons learnt from our investments will help to influence reform and encourage quality of education expenditure to maximise the quality of education.
We will leverage opportunities to unblock constraints and respond nimbly to changes in the political economy to help the Government of Papua New Guinea to coordinate and deliver much needed education services across the country.
What our education and leadership cooperation aims to achieve
Australia will work towards achieving three broad education and leadership outcomes.
Outcome 1: Girls and boys in targeted provinces/schools have improved early grade literacy and numeracy
Under this outcome, DFAT is investing through the PNG Partnership Fund in three demonstration projects that are exploring ways to accelerate learning outcomes for elementary students, including through results-based financing and closer engagement of sub-national government in elementary education. These projects work in support of the outcomes of the National Education Plan and the Standards Based Curriculum to improve teaching practices, provide teaching and learning resources, encourage community engagement, improve school management to improve learning for girls, boys and children with disability.
DFAT is also investing in a targeted program to enable children with disability to receive an education that meets their individual needs through support to Inclusive Education Resource Centres, and working closely with the National Department of Education to improve accountability and financial management in schools.
Recognising that efforts at the subnational level are best sustained when national systems are strengthened in parallel, Australia also supports the National Department of Education through targeted support to policy implementation and oversight including in budget and finances, ICT, monitoring and evaluation, and the Papua New Guinea Education Management Information System.
Outcome 2: More women and men gain appropriate skills in priority sectors
Australia's support under this outcome includes policy advice to improve sectoral governance, including technical and legal expertise in support of the DHERST reform process and maintaining key support to planning, data collection, monitoring and financial management operations which underpin governance across the sector.
Scholarships each year are provided for study at Papua New Guinea institutions in the agriculture, transport, health and education sectors to address essential workforce gaps. Scholarships are also provided for students to undertake short-courses in Australia in areas priority agreed annual with Government of Papua New Guinea.
The Asia Pacific Training Coalition delivers internationally recognised Certificate III, IV and Diploma level Australian qualifications across eight sectors and including enrolments from 14 Pacific Island Countries and five campuses. Australia is also helping to increase opportunities for partnerships between Australian and Papua New Guinea universities that focus on teaching and research quality.
Australia will design a new demonstration project that will match skills development to industry needs in a priority sector through work-place based training, upskilling and training of new labour force entrants.
Outcome 3: More women and men are able to apply leadership skills and attributes towards the development of Papua New Guinea
Australia undertakes a range of activities that aim to develop a cohort of leaders committed to transformative change in Papua New Guinea. Up to 90 Australia Awards Scholarships per year enable Papua New Guineans to undertake long-term study in Australia. The program will continue to target women, the public sector, people from provincial areas as well as people living with disabilities. To support the re-integration of both long and short term Papua New Guinean scholars back into the labour force, Australia supports the Papua New Guinea Australia Alumni Association secretariat. PNGAAA organises professional development training each year which can be attended by its more than 700 members.
The Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct is supporting the next generation of public service leaders, equipping participants with core public policy and economic skills, and instilling leadership values and principles. The Precinct places a strong focus on ensuring training reaches provincial and district administrations. It also includes largescale infrastructure investments aimed at delivering a modern learning environment.
Australia will commence a new investment to support leadership capability in young Papua New Guineans in a select number of secondary schools throughout Papua New Guinea. Improving English language proficiency is likely to be a feature of this investment. This program complements the Pacific BRIDGE Program, launched in 2018 and being piloted in PNG through two schools.
Approach to program delivery
Australia's approach to program delivery is underpinned by principles that will drive the way we work with the Papua New Guinea Government and partners in the sector. These principles include acknowledging the cultural, political and geographic diversity of Papua New Guinea, aligning our work to Papua New Guinea national priorities, and working hand in hand with Papua New Guinean partners. It involves working flexibly, taking an incremental approach, focussing on gender equality and children with disabilities and accepting opportunities to coordinate. It also includes leveraging additional financing for the education sector where feasible, expanding our sphere of influence, broadening our work at the subnational level, targeting support to provinces committed to education reform and taking a consistent approach to policy dialogue.
Australia will maintain a strong and effective partnership with national level government institutions: National Department of Education; the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology; and the Pacific Institute of Leadership and Governance (PILAG). Australia will maintain support for subnational government through PILAG and continue to engage more directly with sub-national levels of government in basic and tertiary education. We will continue to work through and engage with a range of partners in the sector including NGOs, World Bank, ADB, Global Partnership for Education, UNICEF, JICA, EU and the private sector.
Australia's investments have three high-level ways of working: policy engagement; technical engagement; and grants. Policy engagement will involve policy dialogue with the Government of Papua New Guinea as well as engagement with a range of stakeholders with interests in the education sector including civil society, donors, academia and the private sector. Technical engagement will include commissioning research and analysis to support Australia's investments and Government policy/service delivery. It will also use targeted long and short-term technical assistance to build capacity, support Australia's policy priorities and release blockages in the development and implementation of evidence-based policy. Grants will be used to implement a range of complementary activities to deliver on Australia's outcomes such as grants for service delivery at the subnational level, partnerships and twinning arrangements, scholarships, training and support to graduates on return to Papua New Guinea.
Managing for performance
Australia will measure and demonstrate results through strong implementation arrangements, including:
- Program oversight and governance mechanisms for strategic oversight, implementation oversight and contract management to ensure accountability of Australia's investments to both the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments.
- Management for performance across the portfolio will involve a program of independent reviews to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of individual investments and the contribution of these investments to the achievement of outcomes.
- Effective risk analysis and management to inform decision-making which will be periodically reviewed.