The latest publication for the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (PNG NRI) has been released as PNG NRI Spotlight Volume 13, Issue 5. The Spotlight is authored by Dr. Kilala Devette-Chee, Senior Research Fellow and the Program Leader, Universal Basic Education Program. 

Papua New Guinea (PNG), like most countries in the world, was caught by surprise with the global novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in early January 2020. While there are now almost 1.5 billion children or 87 percent of the global children population affected by school closures in nearly 165 countries around the world, 60 million teachers are also at home (Strauss, 2020). The bulk of these children are enrolled in primary and secondary schools, but there are also millions of students affected at the pre-primary and tertiary education levels (Winthrop, 2020), and the statistics are likely to escalate exponentially (UNESCO, 2020). 

COVID-19 is now beginning to take its toll in most countries around the world. While the number of deaths continue to escalate globally, some countries are now planning to reopen schools depending on the flattening of the curve, which provide a positive outlook towards recovery. Although life will not return to normalcy soon, the decision by the Marape-Steven Government to reopen primary and secondary schools in PNG on 4th May needs to be taken with a caution. As long as schools are prepared well in terms of re-organising students’ sitting arrangements in the classroom, one text book or one learning resource per child, health and hygiene measures prepared and most importantly, toilets are upgraded to the standard approved by the National Department of Health, parents will be at ease and will willingly let their children attend school.

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