Education in Papua New Guinea

Education in Papua New Guinea is managed through nineteen provinces and two district organisational units. It is tuition-free and attendance is not compulsory.

Education in Papua New Guinea
Department of Education
National education budget (2016)
Budget1242.8 million PGK [1]
General details
Primary languagesEnglish, Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu and others
System typePublic, religious, private
Literacy (2015 est)
Total64.2% [2]
Male65.6% [2]
Female62.8% [2]
Enrollment (2014)
Total1,805,000 [3]
Primary1,427,000 [3]
Secondary243,000 (Lower) [3]
136,000 (Upper) [3]
Medical students from the UPNG School of Medicine and Health Science

The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI)[4] finds that Papua New Guinea is fulfilling only 50.8% of what it should be fulfilling for the right to education based on the country's level of income.[5] HRMI breaks down the right to education by looking at the rights to both primary education and secondary education. While taking into consideration Papua New Guinea's income level, the nation is achieving 64.1% of what should be possible based on its resources (income) for primary education and only 37.5% for secondary education.[6]


The first school in Papua New Guinea was established in 1873 by English missionaries. Missionaries would continue providing the basis for education, with English and German as primary languages. In 1914, as part of World War I, Australia took control over German New Guinea and English became the sole official language.

The Currie Commission was created in 1964 to investigate the establishment of higher education in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. In 1965 the first university in Papua New Guinea, the University of Papua New Guinea, was established. It was heavily influenced by the Australian education system.[7]

Education in Papua New Guinea has been tuition-free since 2012, as one of the election promises of the People's National Congress.


Papua New Guinea's history of missionary education has led to a large part of education being provided by religious schools. The Department of Education has estimated that 29% of the country's lower secondary education is operated by churches. 3% is operated by private international schools, while the remainder is funded by the government.

Educational Stages

Papua New Guinea has an A-to-D grading system, with D being a failing grade.

Age Level School Language
7 Introductory Local community school Local languages
9 Primary
13 Middle
15 Provincial high school Official languages
(English, Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu)
17 Secondary Vocational
(duration varies)
National high school
19+ Tertiary University


There are six universities in Papua New Guinea. These are accredited under the PNG Office of Higher Education and have establishing Acts of Parliament. The six universities and the main campus of each are, in alphabetical order:

Language education

In 2015, Papua New Guinean Sign Language became an official language in PNG. Based on Auslan, it is used in deaf education.


  1. "Papua New Guinea 2017 National Budget" Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  2. "The World Factbook" Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  3. "Papua New Guinea National Education Profile" Education Policy And Data Center. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  4. "Human Rights Measurement Initiative – The first global initiative to track the human rights performance of countries". Retrieved 2022-03-26.
  5. "Papua New Guinea - HRMI Rights Tracker". Retrieved 2022-03-26.
  6. "Papua New Guinea - HRMI Rights Tracker". Retrieved 2022-03-26.
  7. Richard Guy, Toshio Kosuge, Rieko Hayakawa (2000). Distance Education in the South Pacific: Nets and Voyages. Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific and Pacific Island Nations Fund, Sasakawa Peace Foundation. p. 115
  8. "Papua New Guinea Education System" Retrieved November 08, 2017.
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