“Our senior students have recently sat their Grade 12 exams. We wish them well with their marks and hope the outcomes reflect the effort they’ve put into study over the years. The Alternative Government certainly hopes they do better than the “F” that the recent education plan from the PNC government should receive” stated the Shadow Minister for Treasury & Finance Ian Ling-Stuckey.

”Minister Maru has recently been congratulated by the Chief Secretary for the recent Medium-Term Development Plan. I think they should both go back to school to learn how to do basic maths and logic. Failure to pay teachers properly is an important indication of why the education system must do better. This includes planning better. However, the education planning sections contained in the recent 2018-2022 Medium-Term Development Plan are an embarrassment. Without a doubt, they should be returned to the PNC government with a big “F” for fail.

“The “Tuition Fee-Free Education”(TFF) funding of a claimed K600 million per annum – often delayed – is a signature policy of the O’Neill government. How do we assess the gains from spending an extra K600m each year? Under the National Alliance Government, the number of students increased from 1 million in 2006 to 1.5 million in 2010. Under the O’Neill government, student numbers have increased from 1.5 million in 2010 to 2 million in 2015. So under the National Alliance government, there was a gain of some 125,000 extra students every year (over 500,000 extra students over four years). Under the O’Neill government, student numbers growth has fallen by 25,000 per year so from 125,000 extra students per year under the National Alliance down to 100,000 per year under the O’Neill government (500,000 extra students over five years). The Alternative Government welcomes the increase in student numbers, but we consider that better planning could have allowed for even more students doing better quality and more relevant education by spending the extra K600 million in better ways” stated the Shadow Treasurer.

“As a good teacher should do, let me acknowledge the good points of the education plan. The plan proposes an increase in education’s share of the annual capital budget from 6% to 8%. This is a very welcome improvement. The plan also acknowledges that the PNC government has failed to pursue three of its claimed six education policy priorities and that education quality is falling – so although this is shameful at least the honesty is a positive as acknowledging failure is a necessary first step.

“Regrettably, these good aspects are totally overwhelmed by the complete lack of actual planning within the ‘plan’.  For example, the plan aims to reduce the teacher to pupil ratio from one teacher for every 37 pupils in elementary in 2018 down to one teacher for every 35 pupils by 2021. This doesn’t seem like much progress, but at least it is realistic. Then the plan states that in 2022, the election year, this ratio will drop to only one teacher to every 25 students! This would require the number of teachers to actually increase by over one-third in just 2022. This is just a planning impossibility given the time to train teachers and a phoney election gimmick.

“The MTDP III also totally fails to link the 5 year expenditure plan to the annual budget. For example, the plan indicates there is a need for 40,059 extra teachers by 2022. Of course, teachers should be paid. However, the 2019-22 Budget Strategy does not provide any money for any extra teachers – there is just a 3% pay increase provided for existing teachers. What a total mess – massive plans to increase student numbers, massive plans to increase the number of teachers, but then not providing for  such wage increases into the 2019 Budget Strategy. This shows a massive failure in sensible public policy planning. We agree with the Post Courier editorial of Thursday 18 October that the MTDP III should be withdrawn and corrected. The 2019 Budget Strategy also should be withdrawn and the expenditure components of both properly linked. These types of planning and budgeting failures are examples of why the O’Neill government is failing to deliver to the people of PNG. Beware new teachers, the PNC government is not setting aside the funds to pay for your salaries. A new restructure of government, drawing on better skills from the laternative government, is urgently needed” said Mr Ling-Stuckey.

Hon.Ian Ling-Stuckey,CMG.MP
Shadow Minister for Treasury & Finance

1 November  2018

Details

An extract from the MTDP III Volume 2 page 41 indicating student enrolment has increased from 1.5 million in 2010 to 2 million in 2015 – an increase of 100,000 extra students each year.

The following graph is from the official PNG Department of Education’s National Education Plan 2015-2019. It shows the number of enrolled students increasing from just over 1 million in 2006 to just under 1.6 million in 2010. Being conservative and allowing for an increase of just 500,000 students over four years gives an increase in enrolments averaging 125,000 per year. So the rate of increase has actually fallen under the O’Neill government despite the Tuition-Fee Free Education policy. This can also be seen in the graph that after a significant jump in 2012, the graph is flattening out in recent years.

An extract from the MTDP III Volume 2 p 42  indicating a planned massive drop in the Teacher/Pupil ratio for Elementary school from 1:35 in 2021 to only 1:25 in the election year 2022. Clearly ridiculous as this implies the number of elementary teachers would have to increase by over one-third in just one year.

An extract from the MTDP III Volume 2 p 43 indicating 40,059 additional teachers would be required by 2022.  This is a massive increase in teacher numbers which are currently around 60,000 – such an increase just does not seem feasible.  However, no allowance has been made for in the actual annual budget to pay for so many extra teachers. This is just another example of the total disconnect between the MTDP III and the PNG budget.

At least there were some honest reflections on the lack of progress under the O’Neill education policies.  Acknowledging failures is the first step to taking better actions. More honesty like this is needed from the O’Neill government on economic mismanagement.