TERTIARY education plays a crucial role in the overall socio-economic development of a country through training and research. Since the education reforms in 1993, the Government has been pursuing basic education as one of the priorities over the years through successive budgets with funding and technical support from the donors. What the Government had failed to consider was the implications of this policy. After 16 years now, whether PNG achieves the MDG on basic education or is not an issue. The issue is how to accommodate the ever increasing number of students passing out of the secondary schools, in particular, grade 12 into the tertiary institutions.
This is evidenced by the increasing number of complaints from parents that their children have missed out of the selection process, etc and this is where the Government must come clear to explain its long term policy objectives on how it wishes to address this critical situation. The following are some recommendations to consider:
*Develop a clear tertiary education policy that aligns priorities of individual institutions with the
nationís economic and social goals in order to take the country forward into the new millennium. The policy must clearly spell out tertiary education as one of the core expenditure priorities
of the national government in the medium to long term;
* Resourcing of this plan should include a clear funding matrix and with an equal M&E strategy which should aim to direct both internal and external resources (funding from donors and other external partners) and results of such investments made readily available to the public;
* Ensure long term financial sustainability by encouraging all tertiary institutions to devise funding strategies consistent with the goals of the tertiary education system using public funds efficiently;
*Strengthen the quality of tertiary education by developing quality assurance mechanisms for accountability and improvement and at the same time introduce legislation creating independent professional bodies for certification and long-term career development;
* Foster research excellence and its relevance, building links with other research organisations, the private sector and industry and improving the ability of tertiary education to disseminate
the knowledge it creates;
* Ensure an adequate supply of academics, increasing flexibility in the management of human resources and helping academics to cope with new demands;
* Include labour market perspectives and actors in tertiary education policy, ensuring the responsiveness of institutions to graduate labour market outcomes and providing study opportunities for flexible, work-oriented study; and
*Provide up-to-date information based on international publications and electronic journals with some of the top rated universities in teh world such as ANU, Harvard, Cambridge, LSE, etc.
The Government should therefore urgently work towards adopting a long term (20 year) national tertiary education plan for the country to address the impacts of the education reform policy which is now at a very critical stage.
Whalin M. Iki,