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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

PM Laments Age Gap In PNG Unemployment Figures
Higher education workforce faces challenges

By Agnes Fifi Uki

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 19, 2012) – Only 3.3% of Papua New Guinea’s college-aged population are enrolled in higher education institutes, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has revealed. The grim figures were disclosed by the prime minister during the launch of the Institute of Business Studies (IBS) Mt. Eriama Campus in Port Moresby last week.

"We have 800,000 people between the age group of 18 and 25. Out of this, a mere 28,000 are enrolled in our 32 declared higher and technical education institutions," O’Neill said.

"That is to say that only 3.3% of our college-aged population are currently enrolled. A recent study by the ministry of higher education reveals that cost of higher education per year per student is now averaging K29,000 [US$13,806] as opposed to K15,000 [US$7,141] that had been assumed as market unit cost since 2000."

O’Neill said the economic and social development of any country depended on the education of its people and Papua New Guinea was no exception.

"My government, through the ministry of higher education, is planning to address these challenges to create a stronger and broader higher education sector, and thus a stronger nation.

"We need a higher education sector that is increasingly sustainable and adequately resourced from a broader range of sources to increase access.

"To do these, we must diversify the funding-base for higher education through diversification of providers and income sources."

O’Neill said to achieve the aims, existing state and private providers would be asked to scale up their operations while new private providers, including reputable providers from overseas, would be encouraged to enter the higher education market in PNG.

"If we are to change this country’s mind-set and prepare it for a ‘take off’ development, I would urge all investors to invest in higher education," O’Neill said.

He said Vision 2050 stipulated that human capital development was the country’s number one pillar in good governance, productivity and health and gender equality to unlock the full potential of Papua New Guineans.

Chairman of IBS Mick Nades said it was their vision to educate Papua New Guineans to be competitive globally in the market place.

Nades said IBS’s greatest passion was innovation and excellence and that it offered degree programs that were recognized by professional bodies in Australia and globally.

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