Cut to the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) budget by the government will have adverse effects on enrolment, retention and girls’ participation in education, a research paper released by PNG National Research Institute (PNG NRI) shows.
Basically, this may see a dramatic drop in children accessing basic education, students leaving school during their course of studies and less participation of girls in education which will see a drop in the gender parity index.
The TFF Policy, introduced in 2012, was to improve access and retention of students in basic education from elementary to secondary schools. This is to build towards the country’s prosperity – education improves quality of life of people and promote economic growth. The Policy did achieve its purpose despite some challenges associated with its implementation.
According to the report, the budget cut will impact access and retention in basic education. Since the introduction of the policy, there were high enrolment rates in schools, higher retention rate, and improved gender parity.
Thus, authors, Research Fellow Jeremy Goro and former Research Cadet Hafford Norea, argue that the policy could be managed by reviewing it without the budget cut. “There are issues with the management of TFF which can be resolved by creating an effective monitoring and evaluation mechanism with quality issues of education managed through more investments in infrastructures and recruiting of more teachers.”
Under the new Government’s Tuition Fees Support or Subsidy (GTFS), parents are expected to pay 36.6% while the government pays 63.4%. This may lead to a reduction in school enrolment rate; a decrease in retention rate; potential decrease in human capital development in the long-term; reduction in literacy rate; and a reduction in enrolment and retention rates for girls.
If the government wants to improve accessibility to basic education, literacy rate and human development, the auhors recommend it should review the TFF arrangement and budget cut, ensure the implementation for the TFF cut is gradual and set up an effective monitoring and evaluation mechanism so that TFF funds are utilised properly.
Authorised for release by:
Dr. Osborne Sanida
PNG NRI Acting Director