Politics and Tuition Fee Free Education Policy in PNG

ABSTRACT: Though much has been written about the successes and failures of the Tuition Fee-Free Education(TFFE) policy in Papua New Guinea (PNG), there is a need for an in-depth discussion on sustaining the policy not only now, but also in the future. This paper argues that the sustainability of TFFE policy is an important development issue. In particular, it attempts to discover how the National Department of Education (NDoE) aligns its sectorial strategies (and medium-term development plans) with the department’s vision, mission, objectives and goals.


It is essential that planning (both strategic and operational) by past and current governments focuses on the continuity of TFFE policy. The paper uses literature review and online data to discuss the issue of TFFE sustainability. It gives details of policy timing, political parties and duration of the policy by comparing past to current experiences; discusses sectorial strategic plan and medium-term development plans relating to the policy; and also presents data analysis of TFFE fund allocations. The paper also uses percentages and average values to compare and contrast specific data relevant to support the findings.

There are two important findings. Firstly, the ruling political parties in 1981, 1993 and 2002 announced the implementation of free education policy just before the national general elections. The earlier attempts lasted less than 18 months because of the change in governments. Secondly, the data revealed a lack of TFFE funding consistency in the last decade. ‘Political will’ in the last five years was remarkably high. This raised the question to the sustainability of the TFFE policy in Papua New Guinea in the long term.

You can download the Tuition Fee Free Education Policy in PNG PDF here (⇒ PDF download)

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