Improving the provision of basic education services to the poor in Papua New Guinea

Improving the provision of basic education services to the poor in Papua New Guinea

Evaluation of Australian AusAID-supported education project portfolio in Papua New Guinea

The developmental challenges in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are immense, considering that the PNG society consists of many isolated and fragmented communities. This evaluation addresses the question: has the approach taken in PNG by the Australian aid program since the mid-1990s to improve the delivery of essential education services for the poor been effective?

The authors note that Australian aid agency (AusAID) projects have been based largely on the premise that discrete, supply-side investments will make a lasting contribution to the quality of basic education services.

Main findings include:

  • AusAID has supported a significant education project portfolio since the mid-1990s
  • in this respect, there has been no lack of strategic frameworks to inform Australia’s assistance to the education sector
  • however, there has been limited evidence of a sustained dialogue on sectoral policy by AusAID with either the PNG government or other donors to the education sector
  • consequently, synergies across projects have not been recognised, and the budgetary implications for the long-term sustainability of project-based approaches have been neglected

The overall conclusions are that:

  • more than 10 years of investment and support for a set of substantive education projects have made limited inroads into realising the rights of PNG children to a complete cycle of basic education of acceptable quality
  • the approach has contributed little to overcoming the deep-seated structural and institutional barriers to financing, organising and managing basic education services in an effective and sustainable way
  • while education expertise is important, social and institutional analysis, as well as systemic approaches to building ownership and capacity and to financing education, are equally necessary