Cleaning up school funding could boost literature
10 February 2021
PORT MORESBY – I’ve been investigating the operation of the Tuition Fee Free (TFF) process in Papua New Guinea and whether it is doing the best it can for schools.
And also whether it might be better structured to do more to support education and, in doing that, to support the development of literature and literacy in PNG.
We should bear in mind that, despite TFF, schooling is not ‘free’ in PNG. School fees always apply, and often they are substantial.
At present the national TFF subsidy from the PNG government is divided in three ways:
40% is distributed to individual schools.
30% is handed over to each of the 79 or so PNG districts for school infrastructure development. (The district infrastructure fund is meant to augment this where there are major projects.)
30% is the school supplies and stationery component. It is given to a central company, understood to be Port Moresby-based Treid Pacific (PNG) Ltd to supply and distribute a standard set of stationery to nationwide.
There is at least one significant problem in all this. It is that school budgets are prepared based on the full stated amount of funding – the total 100% allocated.
But schools are not given the two 30% components, and many have developed a bad habit of preparing their budgets based on the full 100% when in fact they’re receiving only 40%.
So every year many schools budget to operate on much less funding than they are going to get. It is no surprise they run into money problems.
That said, trying to get confirmation and more detail of the way this system work is problematic.
The education office seems to think this information is a state secret, and minions down the line feel they too cannot divulge that the TFF is not payed outright at 100% to individual schools.
There is a small unit of the education department housed at the PNG Education Institute that manages the 30% percent stationery and school supplies fund but is of no help because it says it knows nothing about how the funds are spent.
Neither is it possible to confirm whether District Development Authorities are receiving the 30% they are supposed to receive for infrastructure.
I tried searching online for a report on this funding but there was nothing except for a small article in a 2014 PNG Education News.
This alluded to a saga in Morobe Province where Treid Pacific had been late in supplying stationery to schools.
This seems to be a common problem even in 2021 as schools have got used to buying their supplies when the ones from the central supplier either do not come or come very late.
This problem gets repeated year in and year out.
The type of stationery bought was listed in this PNG Education News, and includes a bible, or portions of it.
It is not clear whether the supplies/stationery and infrastructure practices are still in operation and whether they work more effectively.
There is a possibility (perhaps I can call it a presumption) that these two 30% components are going into sinkholes somewhere and that schools have to look after themselves.
I have read in PNG Attitude that it would be helpful for both schools and PNG authors if the government decided that some part of the 30% component for stationery was used to purchase PNG-authored books which could be distributed to schools.
This seems like a good idea to me and I would urge prime minister James Marape to review the stationery arrangement to determine if it is working effectively and to see if there is some scope to include appropriate PNG-authored books
In this way Mr Marape would not need to look for new funding to buy PNG-authored books.
And, if this could be achieved, the prime minister would be able to lay another important tile in the mosaic of 'Take Back PNG'.
According to its website, Treid Pacific is a 100% PNG-owned company with about 80 staff and has been in operation for over 30 years. Based in Port Moresby, “the philosophy of the company is to partner the Department of Education in all areas contributing to quality education for all in PNG”.
Treid also operates a commercial printing division which has offset printing presses and related machinery and equipment. With these, Treid develops and prints PNG curricula, text books and other education resource materials.
Seems like a good opportunity exists there for collaboration with PNG authors - KJ
The 20% GTFS for 2021 school year is K90 million.
Imagine what was 30% for each of the last yesteryears before the Marape government. That would be in excess of over one billion kina spent on school stationery supplies.
Mind boggling, but don't count on any acquittal reports in the public domain.
The National Procurement Office - NPO (previously Central Tenders and Supplies Board - CSTB) is now responsible for tendering for the firm that will get the materials out to school.
Who decides what goes into the supplies list may be determined at the National Education Office.
Authors need to know what process there is to get on that list if they can have their books vetted as suitable.
The last information was books only that support the curriculum or are in sync with the curriculum. Those that write general reading books may not get on that list.
Posted by: AG Satori | 12 February 2021 at 04:53 PM
I checked out the Treid website and came up with the following:
Treid Print, a subsidiary of Treid Pacific, specializes in high-end printing, publishing and curriculum development.
Established 15 years ago, the printing division has state of the art printing machinery in the Pre press, Press and Post press areas e.g. Computer to Plate (CTP), Heidelberg Speedmaster Offset Press (2 and 4 colour), Guillotines, and various folding, stitching and collating equipment.
Publishing in Public Private Church Partnership (PPCP)
Treid Pacific believes that working in a team is the best way to achieve results, doing so in the content development and publishing of curriculum textbooks.
Also working in collaboration with the government and other stakeholders, such as churches and other Non Government Organisations. Ultimately working together to deliver quality education to the children of Papua New Guinea.
Content Development - PNG Textbooks
Six years ago Treid Pacific saw the need for local participation in curriculum development and ventured into risk publishing with experienced practicing teachers and the NCD Education Curriculum Committee.
The success of this resulted in a joint venture with the Curriculum Division, the Department of Education, and Treid Pacific on a MOA basis.
The books are also converted to a digital format to assist the teachers in their standardized teaching programs (standards based curriculum/education (SBC/SBE)).
Additionally, the company will be involved with the distribution and training of teachers to assess the ultimate goal of providing quality education.
I checked out some of the books the Education Department uses. Most seem to have come from OUP.
I also searched PNG school readers and discovered that someone called Tandi Jackson seems to have written a lot of them. As far as I can work out she is an American.
The Curriculum Division in the Education Department really needs to review their policies regarding PNG literature.
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 12 February 2021 at 02:07 PM
AG Satori has done a tremendous job of finding out how the government can help promote literature in PNG and get PNG authored books into schools.
The government doesn’t have to find new funding but utilise what it has always had
The information in this splendid article is the sort of information the prime minister, education minister and all our elected leaders need to have at their disposal to make informed decisions.
Perhaps they lack good advice to promote literature in this country.
I had published 'Climbing Mountains', a very small supplementary reader with Oxford University Press a couple of years ago.
That great man, Sir Paulias Matane introduced me to Kate Detroum, the OUP agent in Port Moresby.
Kate was able to help me get the small reader published.
Many years later, in early 2020, I met Ray O’Farrell the man at OUP to whom Kate had given my manuscript to.
He tracked me down in Port Moresby to see if I could do some translation work for Bilum Books. He had left OUP
This year, I asked Ray for contact details of people he knows at Oxford University Press who might help me and perhaps other PNG writers who struggle to get our books published.
Ray gave me the name and contact details of Richard. And he copied my letter to him at the same time.
But before I could introduce myself to him. Richard responded almost immediately with bad news.
Here is his letter.
"Greetings from Melbourne. Like Ray says so well below, I also fully appreciate the tremendous complexities of writing and getting published in PNG. It is a difficult undertaking regardless, but there are especial challenges facing an author seeking publication in developing countries.
"I have been working with OUP for many years and among other things, still have responsibility for our publishing and sales activity in PNG. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing difficult economic circumstances in PNG, especially around funding for educational materials, Oxford University Press has had to suspend indefinitely it’s local publishing program for PNG.
"I hope and wish this will change before too many years pass, but until such time I’m afraid we are unable to consider any new publishing for this market.
"I wish you very well with your writing and endeavours."
The government must find ways to support literary and literacy development in the country. Help get PNG authors involved with Treid Pacific or recognised publishing houses like Oxford University Press to get their books published.
And ensure the books find their way to all schools in the country. The government must be interested to see what our students are reading.
Posted by: Daniel Kumbon | 12 February 2021 at 07:18 AM
There are certainly books in the PNG school curricula 'about' Papua New Guinea and Papua New Guineans but not so many 'written' by Papua New Guineans.
The 'Famous People of PNG' series by Eric Johns is a good example.
These books are published by overseas publishers, including in Australia.
Several Papua New Guinean writers who went through Pukpuk Publishing to self-publish their books tried very hard to get the government interested in using them but to no avail. Notable among them was the late Francis Nii.
All the writers who self-publish using Amazon retain the copyright to their books and are perfectly free to do deals with the government if it was interested.
A quick scan of the 70 odd books on the Pukpuk Publications list identifies several books suitable for school children at the primary and secondary levels.
For poetry see 'ABCDreams' by Ward Barry, 'Daddy Two Shoes' by Diddie Kinamun Jackson and 'The Bush Poet's Poetical Blossom' by Jimmy Drekore.
For novels see 'An Uncertain Future' by James Thomas, 'When the River Destroys' by Samantha Kusari and 'Lost in His Land' by Winterford Toreas.
'Brokenville' by Leonard Fong Roka is a very good history/memoir. 'My Brother Warrollu' by Marlene Dee Gray Potoura is also a good memoir.
If Treid has printing capacity maybe that's where PNG writers should concentrate. If they've got print-on-demand machinery that would be even better.
UPNG was supposed to have set up a print-on-demand system with a Melbourne company but I don't know whether that ever happened.
I've still got the masters for most of the Pukpuk books and would be happy to hand them over if Treid was interested and the authors were involved.
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 10 February 2021 at 12:01 PM
Masta Satori, tenkiu tumas long mekim dispela wok painim aut na long putim toksave ikam aut long mipela ol PNG raita.
Ol tok bilong yu ikamautim sampela ol gutpela tingting long halapim olgeta lain wantaim, em ol skul pikinini na ol tisa, mipela ol raita na tu Depatmen bilong Edukesen aninit long prime minista Marape.
Klostu taim nau bai yumi ridim ol tingting bilong sampela sumatin husait I raitim essay long wanem as bai PNG gavman imas baim ol buk bilong ol PNG author o nogat.
Tenkiu long sapotim dispela wok bung.
Posted by: Michael Dom | Ples Singsing | 10 February 2021 at 09:36 AM
I have since been directed to the government's Tuition Fee Policy for 2020 published on the internet.
It spells 80% to the schools and 20% as a commodity component. Parents have to contribute an additional 36% as school fees.
The policy does not define commodity but it can be best inferred as stationery for schools. The same policy does not say how the 20% commodity component is spent and by whom.
If this component is still for school stationery, it should be spelt out who manages that and what can be purchased.
If it is Treid Pacific, that would mean a lot of experience gained previously in trying to deliver on that and hope they will improve.
This commodity component perhaps will provide an avenue for PNG authored books.
The policy says some provinces have signed on for school development which is a relief for infrastructure development.
The end result is it is a relief for schools the last year with a bigger budget and the schools can thank PMJM for it.
Posted by: AG Satori | 10 February 2021 at 06:35 AM