Showing posts with label Tuition Fee Free Education Policy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tuition Fee Free Education Policy. Show all posts

School tuition subsidy and free tuition: Is the school fee subsidy policy feasible?

In the #EducationTalk series on PNG Insight, the writer reflects on the Tuition Fee-Free policy of 2012 - 2019. 

It presents an analysis of the TFF policy and school tuition subsidy (GSTF) model in a detailed (4000 words) article. Read about it here.

The discussion pauses the question if the Governance and Monitoring process of the new Govt's School Tuition Subsidy model can address the challenges faced in the implementation phases of the TFF policy in 2012 - 2019.


Perhaps it is important to mention that the conversation aims to raise the challenges of the past tuition fee policy so that proper measures can be taken to address then, going forward.

TFF cash component payments of K385 million to October 2019

The Department of Education has so far received a total of K385 million from the Department of Finance to pay schools the Tuition Fee Free payments.

The release of K20 million at the end of September and an additional K40 million at the beginning of October brings the total amount released to the Department to K385 million so far.

The K60 million released recently has been paid to schools starting at the beginning of October to the Elementary, Primary, Community, Secondary, Provincial High Schools, National High Schools and Vocational Schools throughout the country.

This is the first payment for Term 3, 2019.

The school headteachers, principals and Boards of Managements are urged to budget and spend the money wisely so it can last until the next payment is received.

“The current policy has been reviewed by the Department and my office is reviewing it before it will be presented to Cabinet for its endorsement,” he said.

Education Secretary Dr Uke Kombra thanked the schools for their patience.

He acknowledged and thanked the Government for continuing to support the TFF Policy, in releasing funds to ensure that schools continue to provide education services.


school fee subsidy structure

HELP: Higher Education Loan Programme - New Fee Policy

PM Marape: Government taking the bigger burden off parents with tertiary loan scheme.

HELP PNG higher education loan sheme a tuition fee loan for tertiary students in papua new guines
Approved for Release. 1st December 2019

Prime Minister Hon. James Marape says his Government is taking an even bigger burden off the shoulders of parents by introducing the K200 million students’ tertiary loan scheme in 2020.

He said this when addressing a full-house crowd at the Pacific Adventist University (PAU) graduation at its Koiari Park Campus outside Port Moresby today.

They applauded when Prime Minister Marape made the announcement.

“Next year onward, we will have the students’ loan programme,” he said.

“No more will you pay (tertiary) school fees.
“As long as you have NID (national identification) and residency as a Papua New Guinean, you will go and get money for your school fees.”

Prime Minister Marape said parents would pay 50 per cent of school fees from elementary to secondary school, with the Government to foot the balance, until students were ready for tertiary education.
He said the money would be parked under a programme known as HELP – Higher Education Loan Programme – “where we will have funding easily available to assist our students to pursue higher education”.

Prime Minister Marape said he had heard many people complaining, since the 2020 Budget was delivered last Thursday, about Government reducing funding for primary and secondary schools.

“I put it back to them: Which is most-burdensome? Is it high school or primary school education, or university and college education?” he said.

“I think university or college education is more-burdensome – that is where we are stepping in right now.” 

Prime Minister Marape said those who dropped out of Grades 8, 10 or 12 could be easily absorbed by vocational schools or SME training that would be made available.
“Government wants to do all of these things, but Government alone cannot do it,” he told the graduating students.

“Government and your country need an army of responsible citizens, who are out there making it happen for our country.

“I am sure I am speaking to an army of good citizens who have learned very well in your students, and spiritual upbringing here at PAU.”

Free Education in PNG Poll Result - Investigate TFF Funds

The policy started in 2011 and implemented nationwide in 2012 by the then government under Peter O'Neill ministership and spearheaded by the then Education Minister Nick Kuman (now Minister for Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, DHERST). 

A detailed review of the policy titled Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education can be found via the link.

In a recent online poll on Twitter, PNG Insight followers were asked what new PNG Government under PM James Marape and new Education Minister should do about the free education policy, the Tuition Fee Free Education (TFFE) Policy. 

Poll result

The result indicated that there is a need to investigate the TFFE funds allocated to schools, private companies and MPs since 2012. It is a massive task, but if done properly the investigation could set the foundation for better education policy relating to free education in the country. 

Advantage of Tuition Fee Free Policy: Education Ministry and Department Partner with Churches - Key

PNG Human Development Index (HDI) trend showed that 1995 was the year when PNG lost development momentum it gained after 1975 Independence. The government recognising churches and the National Department of Education as the main actors in education development could be an advantage for achieving long term plans.

Advantages of TFF policy in PNG

PNG development fluctuates -struggle to improve

Corruption in high public offices after the 1992 election is the direct effect of 30 years (to 2022) when PNG is recently classed as a Low Human Development Country. 

Many Papua New Guineas are asking has PNG made improvements in the recent HDI global rank? Sadly, the answer is no. PNG's HDI ranks yo-yos between 153 and 154 out of 188 countries - up or down by 1 point. 

That means the measured global index showed PNG progress is less to nill in the last 10 years to 2020.

What went wrong? 

Government past and present development policies have been 'reactionary' rather than 'strategic for the long term'.

The changes (Curriculum, School Structure, Free Education Policy, Examination and Standard Measurements) have direct effects on development.

Free Education Policy can only be sustainable if the Churches and the Education Department are the main ACTORS. Unfortunately, NDoE and Churches are spectators in this TFF policy - 60% of the TFF grant is handled by entities other than NDoE or Church establishments.

What matters in PNG Education

In fact, NDoE and Churches have the capacity/network to deliver the Govt's TFF policy. No doubt.

The provincial and district network has been established since 1975. The 60% (~K400 million) allocated by the govt can be, rightfully, pumped into churches and NDoE - direct. 

A detailed write-up on this topic can be found here and here

Tuition Fee Free Education Policy - Parents Must Prepare For Uncertain 2017

Payment of Tuition Fee-Free funds to schools has always been an interesting issue among the key stakeholders. Schools skeptical of government's timely commitment and the decisions to pass project fees to parents to pay had been a hot topic among parents, schools and government since the policy's inception. 

The challenge to release funds on time to schools has not been addressed properly. That is why schools and boards are forced to pass fees onto parents. Nevertheless, the recent government's commitment to TFF education policy in the last 5 years (2012 - 2016) must be commended. Through thick and thin the academic year during those years have come to completion, with parents paying nothing. 

But, yet the impending problem still remains - school are not receiving TFF funds on time. This is evident in the PNG Teacher's Facebook discussion group (05.02.2017). One teacher called it a disgrace and reiterated this was the same problem all across the country. Under an hour the post got 15 Likes and a thread was forming. 

Surely lack of promptness is a disgrace. The continued delay of TFF funds payment to schools, even after the education secretary took to Post Courier's front page (31.01.2017) news shows something is not right. In hindsight it is not right to pass the blame around. It is only right to make sure schools have the funds to start each term, on day one of school year.

In fact, the TFF funds are always paid in quarterly installments every year - just before a term starts. This year 2017 is going to be challenging. Compared to the last past 5 years the government had some breathing spaces to gather funds to fund its TFF education policy. This year is the election year. Funds are going to be tight. In addition, the uncertainty of elections and formation of government after the 2017 General Elections, puts this education policy under spotlight. 

The education department must not be complacent! It has to have a contingency plan to not only complete the tuition fee-free year successfully, but also ensures parents are not fooled into paying school fees mid-year.  

The education system, going forward, has the challenge not to fool parents and sponsors. The department must now provide clear direction as far as schools fees and projects fees are concerned all throughout the election year.

The same challenge goes to parents and sponsors - save some money for you never know what's coming. 


Challenges of implementing a free education policy have been many. Political will and funding are among the top issues, including education department’s capacity to monitor and evaluate the policy. From 2012 to 2016, the government’s commitment to implementation of Tuition Fee-Free Education (TFFE) policy has been better than the other attempts in 1981, 1993 and 2002. In addition, funding commitment was consistent and the amount committed to implementing the TFFE policy set the bench-mark for any future governments wanting to implement the free education policy.

Size of TFF funds since 2002

On the contrary, there were many challenges faced between 2012 and 2016. TFFE policy framework lacked detail from the beginning, though there were guides like the TFFE Manual 2012 to show attempts have been made to establish some control mechanisms. In fact, details of monitoring and evaluating was lacking and therefore a major obstacle to the success the policy both in the past and present.

For example the School Learning and Improvement Plans (SLIP) which is the key for knowing what has actually transpired on the ground (in schools), as far as accounting for TFFE spending was concerned, remained obscure.  By this I mean, the school inspectors (call them standard officers) and district administrators (DA) played an important role to not only maintain standard, but also improve standard. 

The inspectors and  DAs are a link between schools and department of education and this link is vital for monitoring school operations and providing accurate reports required by the Tuition Fee-Free Secretariat of the National Department of Education. And therefore, the standard officers and DAs not monitoring SLIP (school population, development plans, head teachers’ spending, etc.…) have a negative impact on the. overall monitoring and reporting of TFFE policy. Their roles are pivotal to whether the government gets an accurate report or not.

One could argue that the SLIP does not correlate to TFFE policy and its implementation, and the school inspectors and DAs have little to do with the school yearly plans. This is not true. The school yearly plan (SLIP) tells you all you need to know before releasing the government’s fund to a school; monitoring it on a regular basis; and reporting it as and when required. In brief, strictly monitoring SLIP gives you the ability to meet the challenges and limitations of implementing the TFFE policy.

Is it too late to talk about the TFFE policy? Well, the question of continuation of the policy is sketchy as are the election results post 2017 elections – no one knows what happens until it happens. So, we never know. But what we know is that the current government TFFE policy continued for the last five years – no government is the past has done that. It is an achievement. Nevertheless, there are many challenges.

Perhaps it is important to know that who (or which party) forms the government after 2017 election is NOT important. What is important is that EDUCATION, must, remain number one. The new government has to plan to ensure key stakeholders like the school inspectors and DAs perform their roles effectively. Also the new government must identify the KEY INDICATORS needed addressing within the education system, and address them properly from the beginning.

I have written extensively about the Tuition Fee-Free policy since its inception in successive years. The screen shots are the Abstract and Content pages of an academic paper I wrote for a post graduate study. The paper reviews three governments efforts in the past, compares it to the current government attempts and discusses 4 recommendations needed going forward.

An updated version of this paper  now available. You can download the Tuition Fee Free Education Policy in PNG PDF. Email me on 

Declaimer: All attempts have been made to ascertain the factuality of information presented in this academic paper. Please, let the writer know if there is anything you wish to point out in the comment section. You can use the Contact Form or Twitter ().