The especially undermining the ability of lower

The PNG economic crisis hit it pretty hard this year and it
will be a tough year for PNG families facing negative impact on family budgets
when the National Government has increase prices of 918 items effective from
January 1st. The rise of food prices has adversely affected the
livelihood of socially vulnerable groups, especially for those people suffering
from poverty because their diets usually rely on items that are becoming more
and more scarce and expensive such as rice, tin fish, flour and cooking oil. What
makes the life of these socially disadvantaged groups even worse is when crude
oil and petroleum have been fluctuated. The significant increase in fuel price
has obviously created additional financial burden on all populations,
especially undermining the ability of lower income groups to spend on
educational services if such provision is not guaranteed by the government.
Having experienced high food and fuel prices, PNG is now confronted with the economic
crisis, which has drastically affected the declining national income, job
losses and increase unemployment in the country.

Household with young children from lower income group,
education can constitute a very significant part of household consumption. Food
is the basic necessity for every household for survival purpose while education
is perceived by parents as very important for their children but increase of
food prices, many families will have to force to pull their children out of
school and send them to work, simply to survive. When families are confronted
with financial difficulty, female students are more likely to be dropping out
from schools. This will mainly affects the rural areas where boys are given
better chances than girls.

Recently, the National Government delivered their free
education policy but tough economic crisis has impact tremously on higher
education in PNG. The Government should do away with the current education
policy and re-introduce the old education system where it paid fees for
students going into colleges and universities. The higher education in PNG is
almost completely dependent on government budgetary allocation and with the
economic crisis, the education sector has decrease in the annual budget
provided by the Government. In times like this, higher education in the country
should urged to generate their own revenue instead of relying solely on the
government. This have greatly affected teachers’ salaries, quality of teachers
and learning, essential utilities to maintain in the continued operation of the
colleges and university’s teaching and learning activities and fee structure
for both new and continuing students in the country.  It has also affect the Department of Higher
Education, Research, Science and Technology owning K7 million outstanding
government Scholarship funds for 2017. The outstanding fund is one of the
reasons why the country’s premium university like UPNG and UOT has tripled its
student compulsory tuition fee for this year.

Some colleges and universities in the country are resorted
to banks for loans to support capital construction costs, resulting in high
levels of dept. Such pressures make it difficult for universities to focus on
teaching and research thus compromising the quality of higher education. Low
quality also contributed to the high level of graduate unemployment. Higher
education plays a very significant role in changing life situations and a major
driving force for developments in the country. The outcomes of higher education
are only realized from the students who complete the system and join the rest
of the work force upon their graduation. With the rapid increase in number of
university graduates in recent years, the job market does not quite match the
job expectation of the graduates, who expect to have high-level, white-collar
jobs waiting for them upon graduation.

One of the ongoing issues in the country are teacher’s
salaries and thus are vulnerable to cuts and extraordinary delays in receiving
their pay or reductions in their monetary incentives. In such economic crisis
like this, the national government needs to increase their pay so that there
may be decrease in absenteeism and improve quality of instruction and learning
in the classrooms.

Higher education is an important part of the economic
infrastructure in any country. It is a powerful vehicle of human development
that helps engender economic, social, and political stability in a country. PNG
government should realizes that developing a modern and effective higher education
system is essential to drive the country’s economic advancement based on development
of human capital, investment in research, cultivating an entrepreneurial
culture and building a new economy based on innovation rather than low-cost
labor. In adapting to the growing pressures of the funding crisis in the higher
education sector, institutions and governments need to focus on methods that
improve the accountability of financing higher education institutes while
ensuring  that higher education institutes
are able to produce the whole range of services required to fulfil society’s
needs. Ultimately, the most important question is to maintain the nature and
scope of higher education institutes in research and teaching that can
contribute to economic growth and social progress in the country.

The 2018 academic year will be a tough year for both parents
and students were they had to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for tuition
fees. Most likely to be affected by the increase of tuition fees will be the
subsistence farmers and low wage earners with either one employed parent or
single parent who have two to three children going to university. Looks like,
they would attend only secondary education and return to their villages while
rich kids will continue to attend colleges and universities in the country.