Remarks by PNG NRI Acting Director, Dr. Osborne Sanida, at the Launch of the 2019 UBE Indicators Report

5 October, 2021, Lamana Hotel, Port Moresby


The PNG NRI undertakes research to improve the economy, improve governance etc. and these can result in improvements in economic activity, increased employment, in increased GDP from the development of natural resources, in increased taxes and revenues to government budget etc., for roads and improved infrastructure developments.

However, we are also mindful and aware that these developments must also ultimately result in the improvements and well-being of the people of Papua New Guinea. The wellbeing of the people must be the focal point and the most important agenda for development issues and so the PNG NRI also hosts important social science research focused around people development.

The Objective of the PNG Development Indicators Research Program (DIRP) at the PNG NRI is to identify and establish key human development indicators that are central to the human development and well-being of the people.

Our discussions and conclusions on human development priorities have centred around three main areas. The first is that everyone must have a basic education in order to be literate and numerate with a good understanding of the environment that they live in so that they can identify and use opportunities to improve their own welfare as well as that of the family and broader society.

The second objective is to ensure that every person is healthy and lives in a health environment in order to be a happy and productive citizen and meet his/her own needs as well as contributing to the development of the society.

The third objective is to ensure that individuals and households have adequate levels of income to enable them to meet their own basic needs such as food, proper housing and other requirements for a happy life.
This focus therefore has been in the area of:

  • Improving Basic Education
  • Improving Basic Health Care.
  • Improving Personal and Household Income Levels.

The selection choice of indicators is a difficult task but we are guided by two central requirements:

  • Are measurable at the district level so that progress can be monitored; and
  • Can inform and guide policy makers, planners and especially authorities and leaders at the community level to identify and implement appropriate interventions to improve the status.

We have finalized the indicators for Basic Education and are still working on the other two areas. I do hope we can do that in the next year.

I am pleased that we have worked over the last ten years or so to now narrowing down to the three indicators for improving Basic Education; Access, Retention and Quality. We released the 2015 UBE Indicators report early this year adopting a standard reporting format. We are now releasing the 2019 UBE Indicators report using the same format so that it is easy for making comparisons over time.

We would now like to generate a report every two years showing the status and trends so that we keep monitoring, and the attention of all stakeholders focused to ensure that we enable every child of school age to access a school, remain in school for the full basic education cycle and has acquired a reasonable level of knowledge and skills (learning).

I am very pleased with the National Department of Education (NDOE) Leadership and especially that of the Secretary Dr. Uke Kombra for the National Department to work in collaboration with the PNG NRI in generating these biennial reports as
well as in working cooperatively towards ensuring that every adult PNG citizen in the next ten years has at least had a basic education.

The timely release of these reports is critical for the follow up work that is required. We are now releasing the 2019 Report. We must commence this year to work on the 2021 data to release the 2021 UBE Report early 2022.

The PNG NRI research teams, the Indicators Research team and the Education Research team, and we hope with a team from NDOE would engage in follow up work with one or two of the least developed provinces. The group would work with the provincial and district level officials to gather and sort out the data at that level and provide a more contextualized analysis and report. We can also assist the local- level Government officials to identify and plan for implementation of appropriate interventions to improve access to schools, improve retention and improve quality of learning.

If we work on such a focused approach over the next ten years, I am sure we can have higher levels of a literate and well-informed population that are better prepared for the “Information Society” of the Future.

Unfortunately, the 2021 National Census has been deferred but the 2011 PNG National Census report indicated that of the nearly 6.36 million of the citizen population aged five years or more; 3.5 million people or 57% were either in school or had some form of schooling in the past. However, 43% of the citizen population or 2.7 million people indicated that they had never been to school.

I have a feeling that the proportion of the population that has not been to school has not changed much.


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