Free Education Policy Funds, Management and Controll Dilemna in Papua New Guinea - REPORT

 The Tuition Fee Free (TFF) Education Policy in Papua New Guinea was an attempt to meet children's right to free and compulsory education. These sections are a compilation of the PNG Auditor General’s Report on the effectiveness of the management and payments of the Tuition Fee Free subsidy to schools registered under the national education system from 2012 - 2018.

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Performance Audit Report on Tuition Fee Free Education Policy 2012-2018

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Key Findings

Chapter 3: Data Collection and Management Systems; Financial Calculation and Approval Procedures; and Payments of TFF Funds

15. During the period under review (2012-2018), total funding of K4.270 billion was appropriated for TFF subsidies. Of that total appropriation, a sum of K3.635 billion was paid
to school accounts, and K305.6 million was allocated for commodity components (to purchase teaching and learning materials). 

A shortfall of K330 million was outstanding from the government.

16. The National Department of Education uses a data collection management system and has validation and financial approval procedures to facilitate timely payments of TFF funds to schools. These systems and procedures are partially effective with room for improvement.

Specifically, the process used to collect data from schools for use in the calculation and payments of TFF funds was slow and inefficient resulting in the NDoE using prior-year data to calculate and pay TFF funds to schools.

A five percent (5%) acceptable growth rate is also used in the calculation of TFF funds and applied in the validation process to prevent schools from overstating their enrolment numbers to gain extra funding.

The fixed-rate used means that schools are paid TFF funds according to constrained enrolment figures and this can mean that schools with a genuine increase in student enrolments above five percent (5%) are underpaid.


17. Every year a number of schools had their TFF funds rejected due to bank account issues. These rejections reflect ineffective coordination and validation of data in the payment process, as well as a lack of awareness by schools on the importance of having a valid bank account for TFF purposes. 

TFF funds are also not strictly paid to schools as per quarterly payment schedules specified in the policy guidelines. There were delays experienced by schools in the payment of TFF funds, and in some instances, the amount of TFF funds paid were inadequate and did not match the school’s enrolment numbers. 

The delay in receiving funding has impacted school operations, especially for those schools with high student populations that needs constant funding to operate.


18. The delays and reduced TFF payments were mostly caused by cash flow issues with the availability of funds in the government consolidated revenue fund, as well as other associated factors and costs. 

The limited funding provided in the TFF budget to fund the administration and monitoring of the TFF policy has resulted in the National Department of Education using some components of TFF funds (K13.9 million) to meet the costs of managing and implementing the policy from 2012–2015 when the TFF funds were administered by the National Department of Education. 

This further decreased the amount of TFF funds paid to schools during that period. Since 2018 there has been some funding (K500,000) allocated through the national budget to meet the administrative and operational costs of managing and implementing the policy.


19. The National Department of Education has introduced an information management system (EMIS) to manage student enrolment data and includes system controls to prevent unauthorized access to data. This database shows that the introduction of the TFF policy has led to an increase in student enrolments and the registration of new schools. 

The increase in student numbers (regardless of gender) indicates the achievement of one of the objectives and intended outcomes of the policy, which is equity and fairness in education irrespective of gender, economic and geographical background. 

Despite the student population increases due to the TFF policy, the shortage of teaching and learning infrastructures to accommodate the influx of students has been a challenge for many schools. 

To address this challenge, collaboration is required between national, provincial and district education authorities.


20. The AGO review found that management of the procurement, supply and distribution of Teaching and Learning Materials to schools was partially effective. 

The number of supplies delivered to schools was based on prior year data instead of updated enrolment data. The supplies were also not delivered to schools on time and there was no effective monitoring and reporting carried out on the procurement & supply and delivery of materials to schools.

21. While TFF guidelines were developed to support the implementation of the policy, not all schools visited by the AGO had copies of these guidelines and limited training was provided to help schools undertake their required roles and responsibilities under the policy. 

Schools have not maintained proper financial records which poses a high risk of TFF funds being mismanaged or misused, by schools and the management authorities concerned. 

With the decentralization reforms on TFF policy, there is an opportunity for the provinces to have more ownership and responsibility for the management and accountability of the TFF policy at the provincial and district levels.

Free Education Policy Funds, Management and Controll Dilemna in Papua New Guinea - Data Collection and Management Systems; Financial Calculation

Content layout

Executive Summary and Recommendations


Overall Audit Conclusions and Key Findings

Recommendations & NDoE Responses


  • Recent changes to the TFF policy
  • Audit rational
  • Audit objective and criteria
  • Audit scope and methodology
  • Previous audit coverage


  • Background
  • Applicable legislation and national education plans/policies
  • Alignment of TFF policy to broader education plans and legislation
  • TFF Policy implementation
  • Governance and management arrangements
  • Conclusion

  • Recommendation 1
  • Recommendation 2


  • School data collection and verification
  • Data management system and enrolment data validation and TFF calculations process
  • Financial management approval process and payments of TFF funds to schools 33
  • Timely payments of TFF funds and impacts on schools
  • TFF funds used to pay for administration expenses
  • Commodity components- Teaching and Learning Materials
  • Approval to withdraw TFF funds at the Provincial level
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendation 3
  • Recommendation 4
  • Recommendation 5
  • Recommendation 6
  • Recommendation 7


  • Background
  • Monitoring arrangements and framework
  • Reporting and acquittals of TFF funds
  • Performance measurement and evaluation
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendation 8


Recommendation 9


Performance Audit Report on Tuition Fee Free Education Policy 2012-2018

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