Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Papua New Guinea needs maturity in political debates on party policies, not just utterance of mud throwing at each other.


PAPUA New Guinea has entered the third week of the eight-week election campaign before polling commences next month.

Unlike previous elections, this year’s campaign appears not as noisy as in the past.

Social media has played an important role in the campaign so far with political parties buying Facebook pages to launch their awareness messages.
Almost all the 15 political parties in PNG contesting the election now have a paid Facebook Page.

The ruling People’s National Congress (PNC) has reportedly disseminated a lot of information about its polices and continues running social media ads.

One of the PNC’s major party platforms is the Free Education policy. As the ruling party, it has implemented and PNG has felt its impact since 2012.

 any other government policy, the PNC free education policy has its weaknesses. In order to defend this policy, party leader and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said recently he wanted to make the PNC’s free education policy government policy so that future governments will continue implementing it.

‘Politically suicide’
In what looks like a counter attack, its rival Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party (THE) has issued a “politically suicidal” statement by party leader and Opposition Leader Don Polye saying it would scrap free education instead introduce a “compulsory and subsidised education” as it policy.

Polye went on to say that this policy would be a national policy if THE formed the next government, making it illegal for parents not to send children to school.

Firstly, THE party’s policy would make school compulsory, and secondly parents would need to pay from elementary to grade 12, but not at technical colleges and universities.

THE party wants government to take full responsibility to pay for develop the skills of those in tertiary institutions.

This policy sparked a response from Prime Minister O’Neill condemning the Opposition for developing “reckless policies” that could only set the country back, reverse development and undermine economic growth.

“This is the most reckless Opposition campaign to be seen in elections for a long time,” O’Neill said.

“These Opposition policies would hurt families, would see people miss out on education and have funding decisions taken away from the local level and returned to Waigani bureaucrats.

“How could anyone think that ending free education could be a good thing?

“Under our government, it does not matter if a family is rich or poor, urban or rural, we will make sure all of their children are able to attend school,” O’Neill said.

Some implications
Let us look at some of the implications of THE Party and PNC on their education policies, leaving aside other issues for a while.

Under PNC’s policy, there would be more children going to school because it is free to attend school from elementary to high school and perhaps colleges (some colleges are still paying fees this year at some colleges).

This will see an increase in the grades 8, 10 and 12 dropouts. These dropouts will add to the number of unemployed youths and unskilled laborers. After 10-20 years, there will be an increase in the number of school leavers compared with today.

This is a situation whereby students from well-off families may enroll further in private schools or take further studies abroad but this number is always a minority. PNC’s free education policy creates issues in the long-term but it may look good in a short-term.

THE party’s policy on education will put pressure on poor parents to firstly send their children to school or they be jailed for not sending and to pay their fees in full.

This is a harsh policy by THE party whereby parents would need more counselling on family planning as any child born must be educated by law and they have to meet the cost up to grade 12.

It is tough for parents but in the long-term it will benefit the country largely. Firstly, by concentrating on paying fees for higher education and colleges will ease parents of their financial burden.

Literate population
Secondly, compulsory education would produce a literate population and that is good for a developing country. Today, many young people are not going to school and are roaming the streets — even if it is free to go to school.

But when there is a law to force students to attend school, there will be no children on the street begging as we see today in cities like Port Moresby, Lae and Mount Hagen.

The PNC and THE party’s policies on education have both negative and positive implications.

The term or the phrase “free education policy” is in fact not proper because nothing is free, it would be better to say subsidised fees than to say free education.

Nothing is really free. It is not free to get educated, rather the government is using people’s tax money to subsidise the cost of education.

This confused phrase of free education is a brainchild of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) which led two governments under Paias Wingti and Sir Mekere Moruata as Prime Ministers who implemented this policy.

The policy was fully implemented during Sir Mekere’s term as Prime Minister in 2000.

Before the Bougainville crisis
Before the Bougainville civil war, tertiary education at the universities and colleges was fully subsided (students were also given monthly allowances) when Panguna mine was in operation.

But after the Bougainville conflict there was a new “user pay” policy so all the benefits of allowances and fully subsidised fees for tertiary studies were withdrawn and students had to pay for university and college education.

This means that Don Polye’s education policy will bring back the glory days prior to the Bougainville conflict when PNG enjoyed a fully subsided education at the tertiary level.

All in all, Peter O’Neill’s education policy is short-lived and may put pressure on the government budget to continue funding as the population increases each year. It’s another fashion of PDM’s Free Education political gimmick that pops up as a mushroom and dies tomorrow. There is no real tangible impact it will bring to PNG.

Don Polye’s policy may look tough from the start but it is not a new policy in PNG to fully subsidise education at the tertiary studies. The new thing will be compulsory for every child in PNG to attend school.

For a country like PNG, we need a good policy on education and Don Polye’s policy will save Papua New Guinea for the years to come.

Peter O’Neill’s short-lived policy might mean Papua New Guinea would face social and unemployment problems and economic problems as the population increases. Again, it will be a repeat of PDM in PNC.

Don Polye’s policy will also have an impact to control the population and I think this is a very good proposal for PNG.

It is my personal guess that Polye’s policy is what PNG needs and it speaks of more maturity than O’Neill’s, which lacks sustainability.

You decide which policy you need at the polls.

A poster for People's Democratic Movement party leader Paias Wingti's original "free education" policy campaign poster for 2017 NGE - but nothing is really "free" in the world.

Click the link below to access the PDF file format of the article in full.
PNG Needs Maturity political debates on Party policies

Source: Asia Pacific Report / Pacific Media Centre. 


  1. It is clear from this brief that PNC's and Peter O'Neill's education TFF Policy is short-sighted and will run the country into turmoil in the future. Whilst there maybe increases in student enrollments and school attendance by children, the fact that there will be a lack of school infrastructure such as classrooms etc may result in a diminishing quality in academic output amongst our young people.
    What does this mean for government and business in the future? An absolute disaster with a regressive system of governance and a retarded economy unable to lift itself up due to the lack qualified manpower and expertise. This amongst many other issues are the likely result of PNC's TFF Policy.
    On the other hand, THE Party and Don Polye's policy of compulsory and subsidized education may look tough and may cause initial hardship for many parents. However when examined closely, such an education policy is aimed at ensuring that the future for our children, students and parents is going to be less troublesome to put it mildly but much more progressive. Out streets of Port Moresby and cities and towns in our country for instance will have less or no children begging on our streets. We will be developing a much more responsible and accountable society as parents and adults generally learn to take responsibility for the education and general well being of their children, nephews, nieces and other relatives. These are some of the benefits of THE Party's education policy. Of course there will other problems and issues with the policy but what is vitally important is the longer term is the sustainability of the two different education policies and whether they can withstand the test of time and changing circumstances in the economy and society generally.

  2. Nothing is for free and we all know that. It is a good idea to subside Tertiary Education and that is where Polye to put 100% effort. Compulsory education should be introduced later as Education System in PNG needs to be overhauled. There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed by the Government such as the state of School buildings, lack of stationery, Teacher's packages. One of the main issues as well is the living standards of Papua New Guineans both in Urban and Rural settings. Government need to enrich the lives of millions of people that struggle to survive each day. I feel work will need to be from ground zero to eventually implementing Compulsory Education...

  3. Thanks Peter for comparison and contrast here. I fully agree with DP's policy. Next government must take this on board.

  4. Innovation, creativity, progress, success and prosperity are products of discipline, sheer hardwork, commitments and sacrifices.

    Govnt policies must be principle based. Policies that should make people discipline, work hard, be committed and make sacrifices and become productive.

    Policies that encourage FREE LIFE are not helpful. Nothing is free in this world. For instance, a classroom now is a hectic space filled to capacity with kids. The teacher student ratio is 1:70 or more, three times higher than normal which is the outcome of Free Education. You don't expect quality teaching, learning and quality output in this kind of environment.

    Something that is free encourages Laziness and destroys the inbuilt potentials in someone to become smart. Laziness contributes to a sick and unproductive society and increases the level of poverty.

    These days kids are taking life for granted and we are seeing a mass population of joy-riders, undisciplined, taking their education as jokes, completely different from lives 15 - 25 years ago.

    God gave a new formula in life to Adam and Eve when they disobeyed and that is to SWEAT YOUR GUARDS, TILL THE SOIL and support your lives. God's way is all about self reliant, not dependent. God never said live a free life.

    Govnt policies must always harmonize with the sure Words and Principles of God. A govnts policy that is geared towards Free life is totally contradicting God's Words. It demeans and dishonors the Creator God as nobody to men. Its very destructive.


    "No Pain = No Gain"

  5. People, support Polye's subsidised education policy. Free education policy will only drain the taxpayers' pocket, produce low quality human resource, create dependency on govt again passing the burden to the taxpayers and most importantly will encourage parents and parents to be to recklessly or irresponsibly or carelessly produce children beyond what they can support or provide for. Expect increase cases of 02, 03 and 0100 also!!

  6. Well precisely presented. I like the way THE is proposing but, Greatly convinced by your phrase, no free education but subsidised education. Nonetheless, I think its better both the parents and the Government should share the burden. 50% by the government and 50% by the parents. If we rely only on the government, sometimes when money and resources does not reached on time, most of the schools are suffering or not up to date. Just share the burden is better for quality education.

  7. Subsidize education was and still a good policy, tertiary education should be fully funded by the Government and parents should be responsible for elementary up to year 12, where the students will be rewarded with scholarships and sponsors finally taking the burden away from parents, this was the policy of the 80s and 90s but it should be more refine so every students going to all tertiary institution benefits.

  8. T.H.E party policy is best for the long run of PNG... thumbs up for DPP for PM

  9. Robin Kalane Pairox18 May 2017 at 00:56

    DON Polyes policies are best based on people's interest..
    Vote for THE party endorsed candidates only for DON POLYE to form the next government in order for his policies to be effective.

  10. I think PNC Education Policy has been tried as we all see from recent years but nothing good came out of it all we see was the negative effects and I for one think that should be stopped nothing is free in this world. Whereas THE party policy I think it sounds interesting about the part of Subsidising fees and paying fees for tertiary institutional levels that would benefit PNG people in the long run.

  11. metaphorically...a plate of rice and tinfish finished with a nice warm cup of coffee is wonderful and should send Joey on his way...but say Joey decides to have apple-pie for dessert which is not too bad...but after, he looks into the fridge and pulls out a six pack of cold beer and he has a full tummy, a satisfied man..20 minutes down the road he cannot resist the overpowering smell of T-bone steak from the roadside bar and decides to pull-in. Another full plate of T-bone steak and 12 pack of cold beer...by now Joey is bloated....20 minutes, Joey is at the buai market, decides to have a buai but his friends are there and tease him to sample the 'Live Love', Joey refuses, but after much teasing he gives-in though there is no more room in his tummy..takes-in a full 4 liter container..by now all the working mechanisms in his tummy are drowning under load....even then Joey decides, under all odds, that he has to finish off with a full mouth of buai....the fine line of forbearance is crossed, the volcano erupts, tinfish and rice, coffee and beer, t-bone steak and livelave, buai and stomach fluids all shoot through the mouth and nose drills into a heap of gunk & slime....metaphorically, THIS IS THE FREE EDUCATION POLICY OF PETER O'NEILL and THE PNC PARTY.

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