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Old 21-09-2002, 12:57 PM
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Education - Papua New Guinea

More than five million women are illiterate in the world, mainly in poor rural areas. ('The fruits of girls' education, Unicef).

In PNG, as per the 1990 national census the overall literacy rate in the country is 45.1% with 50% of the male population and 41% of the female literate.

What about the remaining 59% of the women ?

These women cannot sign their names, make simple calculations, decipher simple instructions, or fill out an application form.

Their lack of education limits their ability to earn money and get loans, to participate in decision making in their families and communities, to delay childbearing and to offer their children the best life chances.

The failure to educate these women when they were girls is the result of a range of factors, including the need for girls labour in the home, attitudes that devalue education for girls, fears about girls security outside the home and lack of resources to pay for education.

In PNG, the implementation of the education reforms has generally been satisfactoryin terms of access.

The following are statistics from the Education department on the status of education in PNG with regards to gender issues:
  • The participation of girls at elementary schools is satisfactory with 47.2% of those enrolled in 1999 being girls. This is similar to the percentage of females in the population as a whole in the 1990 national census. It is exactly the same as the 1998 figure.
  • Female participation at the lower secondary level is consistent over the four grades. It shows a slight improvement on the previous year. These gigures include those in Grades 7 & 8 in the high schools or seconday schools.
  • The percentage of girls attending upper secondary schools is still a cause for concern. The percentage of girls is still only about 35% in Grade 11. This compares to about 40% in the other high school grades.
  • Girls particpate very poorly in vocational education compared with other sectors of the general education system. The overall percentage is only just over 25%. It is hoped to increase female enrolment in two ways. Firstly by providing courses that are seen to be relevant for girls. Secondly by encouraging girls to enroll on courses that have previously been considered in the male domain.
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