SINCE 2013, Australia has funded more than 2134 scholarships for Papua New Guineans to study across the country and in Australia to gain skills and knowledge and take advantage of employment and leadership opportunities.
PNG and Australia have a mutual interest to take full advantage of PNG’s economic and human potential by investing in human capital to improve employment rates, earnings and offer significant social rates of return.
Based on the long history of cooperation in education as the basis, it emphasises to strengthen people-to-people links, skills, leadership and developing human resource capacity.
Lae-based Australian Consulate public diplomacy and transport coordinator Nelson Thom said Australia’s foreign policy white paper 2017 said a stable and prosperous PNG, with a growing economy, was one of its highest foreign policy priorities.
The investments are based on three priorities including:
- Foundations to supporting literacy and numeracy skills as foundation in early schooling years into the workforce;
- skills and productivity to help tertiary sector meet industry demand for skills in support of economic growth, resilience and to enable social mobility; and,
- Leadership to support leadership capability which is crucial for future governance and stability.
Thom said education developed skills and knowledge and had the power to influence positive change and empower future leaders.
“Australia wants both women and men to have equal access to education and contribute to PNG’s economic and social development,” he said.
“The relationship is dedicated to helping the country address critical workforce gaps.
“It is transitioning to a more-contemporary economic and strategic partnership, rather than one dominated by aid.”