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Former Education Secretary Dr Joe Pagelio dies after short illness


Joe Pagelio on a school visitDISTINGUISHED PAPUA NEW GUINEAN educational administrator, Dr Joseph Pagelio, who served the PNG Education Department for more than 30 years, including four years as Secretary for Education, died on Tuesday after a short illness.

Dr Pagelio, from West New Britain, began his service as a secondary teacher in 1975 at Dregerhafen High School.

He was steadily promoted through the ranks in various parts of PNG, being appointed headmaster of Henganofi High School in 1983 and a school inspector in 1986.

Dr Pagelio completed a Bachelor of Education in 1990, after which he served the Education Department as a national education planner while studying for his master’s in education. He completed his doctorate in education, specialising in educational leadership, at the University of Queensland in 2000.

Joe Pagelio“I came back with ideas how to improve the department's performance,” he once told PNG Attitude.

As Secretary for Education he led the reform of an education system facing an array of difficult geographical, social and economic challenges.

“More and more children in Papua New Guinea are receiving at least six years of basic education and, increasingly, more teachers are being trained throughout the country,” he said at the time. “'Progress may seem slow but you must remember we started in 1993 from a very low base.”

Dr Pagelio was keen to expand programs offered by vocational and technical institutions which teach life-skills. “These bodies offer an education that is probably more relevant to the majority of Papua New Guineans who live outside urban areas,” he says. “These people often don't have the opportunity to enter the formal workforce.”

Dr Pagelio is survived by his wife and two children. The Education Department said he was a committed public servant who dedicated his life to serving the people.


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Joeson Wasia

He was truly a committed public servant in PNG who has done so much especially in the education sector of the country.

His legacy remains forever.

May his families and relatives be comforted with the grace of our living God.

Mrs Barbara Short

I was very sorry to hear of the early death of Dr Pagelio. I send my condolences to his wife and family. He will be sorely missed.

It is sad when gifted and hard-working public servants die at an early age.

Many of my own pupils in PNG, 1971-1983, who have gone on to take important roles in PNG, have already died.

Now, more than ever, PNG must learn to take good care of the health of its talented and highly trained men and women in the public service. The future of PNG depends on them and their lives are often ones with great responsibility and much sacrifice for the good of the country.

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