The main terms used in Papua New Guinea related to technology in education are information and communications technology (ICT), education media, and Flexible and Open Distance Education (FODE).
The 2008 National ICT Policy defines ICT as including the “hardware, systems and processes for creating, storing, managing and sharing information. Some elements of ICT have progressed so quickly that they have changed the lives of people dramatically. Some striking examples are the internet, mobile communication technologies, and innovations in broadcasting”. The 2009 National ICT Act defines an ICT service is defined as a “a) a facilities access service; and/or (b) a network service; and/or (c) an applications service; and/or (d) a content service”. The 1983 Education Act (as amended in 2020) includes under its definition of a school an “institution for providing… correspondence education to Grade 12 only”.
The 2010 National Education Media Policy defines ‘education media’ as “the use and application of electronic Media and ICT including radio, television, computer, internet, video conferencing, teleconferencing, print materials, audio visual materials and multi-media materials for educational purposes. Learning through distance mode and through these means is part of Education Media”. An ‘educational ICT program’ is further defined as “educational resource materials which are produced, stored and delivered in various ICT forms. There are three types of Educational ICT program and these are Teaching & Learning Program, Training Program and General Information Program including awareness and Education News Program”. The policy additionally provides definitions for ICT, education media programs, and instructional educational ICT programs.
The 2023-27 Digital Government Plan defines e-Education or e-Learning as “the delivery of education or any type of training by electronic methods, such as computer or a smartphone where teaching material will be accessed online”.
There is no use of term education technology (EdTech) in official government documents.
The 2022 Digital Government Act aims to develop a digital government through the use of ICT and enable digital government services, with no explicit mention of schools.
The 2021 Electronic Transactions Act establishes a legal framework for the use of electronic transactions for commercial and non-commercial purposes.
The 2009 National ICT Act regulates the ICT industry, establishing the Universal Access and Service Fund (Article 89) which encourage the development of ICT infrastructure and improvement of the availability of ICT services (including internet) within Papua New Guinea, with no explicit mention of education institutions.
Papua New Guinea’s 1975 Constitution makes no reference to technology.
Policies, plans and strategies: The Department of Education has identified ‘education media’ such as radio, television and internet as key tools to enhance teaching and learning and improve standards and delivery of quality education services. The 2010 National Education Media Policy provides the framework for managing, designing, developing and implementing the government’s Education Media Program. Policy objectives include the promotion of ICT in education, design and development of educational ICT programs, and the delivery and access of educational ICT programs. The 2010-19 National Education Media Policy Implementation Strategic Plan aims to implement the objectives set forth in the National Education Media Policy.
The 2020 Digital Transformation Policy documents aspirations for the digital transformation of Papua New Guinea, including the development of digital infrastructure, digital skills, cyber security and privacy. One of the objectives of the policy include ensuring that ICTs are integrated in education and training at all levels.
The 2023 National Media Development Policy promotes a professional, ethical, and responsible media industry, with specific education objectives.
The 2018 ICT Roadmap similarly includes education objectives.
The 2023-27 Digital Government Plan proposes to digitise and automate all public services, with goals to improve access to critical services including education.
According to the 2020-29 National Education Plan, there is an “urgent and immediate need to develop an ICT Policy and Plan which will provide an overarching vision for ICT across the whole education system, and cover all aspects of education from improved administration through to enhanced learning in the classroom”.
The 2008 National ICT Policy supports the integration of ICT within the education system of Papua New Guinea, while the Papua New Guinea Vision 2050 aims to “promote and establish the use of information and communications technology (ICT) for sustainable education” and increase access to all education levels through the improvement and increase of open, flexible and distance education.
The 2010-19 Universal Basic Education Plan similarly envisions flexible, open and distance education at all education levels within the country’s new education structure.
Digital competency frameworks: The 2015–19 National Education Plan intended to develop a National Teachers’ Competency Framework which would be used to improve teacher competence, assess teacher performance, and used as a basis for teacher training. As part of the Framework, teachers will be provided training in the use of ICT and e-learning technology to enhance learning. According to the 2020-29 National Education Plan, the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) intends to support the Department of Education in teacher training, to promote the quality and competency of teachers. In 2021-22, there was also a goal to review the Pacific Regional Teacher Competency Standards.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: To increase the resilience of the education system, the government prioritized the publication of remote learning resources on the Department of Education website for all education levels, the development of adapted learning resources for specific sectors and learning needs, and booster resources to be made available to all teachers for each education level. All schools were also tasked in developing a Disaster Management Plan and integrate it under the Student Welfare Focus Area of School Learning Improvement Plans (SLIP).
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The Papua New Guinea Vision 2050 aims to increase the availability of rural electrification from 15% to 100% of the population, with no specific reference to schools. The 2010 National Education Media Policy encourages teachers to apply for teaching positions in remote schools by providing services such as electricity, electronic and communication facilities, regular access to training and resource materials through Education Media Program.
Computers and devices: Papua New Guinea has school broadcast programs, which are school radio and television programs for primary and secondary schools. According to the 2019-21 Corporate Plan, the government plans on distributing and broadcasting recorded programs for all grades. The 2008 National ICT Policy aimed to investigate the provision of computer devices with pre-loaded literacy and numeracy software under the One Laptop Per Child Program in remote areas, which was launched in 2010 and carried on until 2014. The 2020 Draft Universal Access and Service Policy aims to include computer labs in schools.
Internet connectivity: The 2009 National ICT Act includes internet access as part of the regulates the Universal Access and Service Fund (Article 89), with no explicit mention of education institutions. Schools are explicitly mentioned in the 2023-27 Universal Access and Service Strategic Plan, which aims for the Connect the Schools Project to establish managed fixed broadband connectivity in schools throughout Papua New Guinea. The 2020 Draft Universal Access and Service Policy aims for 85% of all schools to have access to broadband by 2027.
According to the 2020-29 National Education Plan, the e-Learning Division will work closely with the ICT Division to develop an Infrastructure Plan for connectivity, with need to significantly improve internet connectivity in schools and homes. The 2019-21 Corporate Plan similarly aims on improving technological infrastructure to support teaching and learning, by increasing the number of schools and education institutions using e-learning infrastructure. One of the policy objectives of the 2008 National ICT Policy is to encourage the use of internet in education, which includes encouraging online learning in educational institutions and universities and facilitating the sharing of e-learning knowledge and resources between educational institutions. The government also plans on providing incentives to the non-state sector to donate equipment and sponsor community-based privately owned internet kiosks.
When it comes to broadband, the 2013 National Broadband Policy (updated by the 2022-27 National Broadband Policy) supports for all primary and secondary schools to have broadband access in urban areas, and in rural areas that have broadband service availability. The policy specifically aims to support 100% of primary and secondary schools in urban areas to have broadband access and 40% of all primary and secondary schools in rural areas to have broadband access within the next five years.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
It is estimated that approximately 85% of the population in Papua New Guinea live in rural and remote areas, with schools in very remote long being considered disadvantaged due to challenges in delivering education services in these areas. To reach more students in remote areas, about 2,000 schools (targeted as the most remote schools) receive education through the Enhancing Quality in Teaching through TV Programs (EQUITV) package, with other platforms (such as multimedia projectors and DVDs) also being explored. The model lessons can all be uploaded to the Department of Education’s website as reference material, with a long-term goal to provide access to all educational content through the Department’s website.
The provision of flexible, open and distance education is viewed as giving alternative opportunities to students to pursue other pathways of formal education. The curriculum offered by Flexible Open and Distance Education (FODE) is fully aligned with the general schooling system. The 2011-30 Education Sector Strategic Plan aims to fully integrate distance education within the mainstream system, viewed as one of the “keys to achieve access targets”, particularly for more remote areas. The 2008 National ICT Policy also views ICT as having the ability to “solve distance learning problems” and “build bridges between teachers and students”. According to the 2010 National Education Media Policy, educational media programs (originally radio programs) were introduced in Papua New Guinea in the early 1960s to support teaching and learning schools. One of the objectives of the policy was the establishment of the Department of Education Broadcasting System to improve the delivery of education services.
Flexible and open distance education (FODE) was additionally developed as a project financed by the World Bank from 2011 to 2016, with the government continuing to expand the program in its following plans. FODE aims to give students the ability to complete secondary education via distance learning and improved the quality of distance learning curricula and the availability of instructional materials. The 2015–19 National Education Plan intended to continue strengthening FODE and enhance the possibility of distance access to education. Differences between the urban areas and the rural areas and, in particular, the remote regions of the country persist in terms of access to education. The 2011–30 Education Sector Strategic Plan aims to address these disparities, encouraging teachers to teach in remote schools.
The 2020-29 National Education Plan also supports the provision of a digital online mode and full distance learning mode for all education courses, which would allow more women to access education, acknowledging many women’s double work burden. Moreover, the use of digital infrastructure and online libraries are also viewed as ways to provide flexible alternative learning pathways for girls, providing them with increased access to learning resources. According to the 2009-14 Gender Equity Strategic Plan, there is a gender equity module that is broadcast through radio, television and other digital media to raise awareness on the importance of educating girls.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a range of distance education methods were utilized to reach students across Papua New Guinea (including students in remote and extremely remote schools), which included no tech, low tech and high-tech options (online, radio, television, SMS, and print materials, as appropriate). The 2020 COVID-19 Education Emergency Response and Recovery Plan identified the need to focus on print and radio materials in order to reach the majority of children, with adaptations made to ensure learning packages were accessible to children with disabilities and out-of-school children.
The 2020 COVID-19 Education Emergency Response and Recovery Plan adopted an inclusive distance education approach, with targeted support to the most vulnerable children, which included students with disabilities, struggling learners, displaced children, children in the most rural hard-to reach and poorest communities, and girls with caring responsibilities. Key strategies for reaching children with disabilities included sign language and subtitles added to video content, large print, Braille materials, and video or audio adaptions of materials. The government also aimed at providing learning packages for children with disabilities at home, providing learning devices or equipment needed for home learning, and developing specific key messages and tips for parents on supporting the learning of children with disabilities. Gender strategies were also strongly integrated in the distance education framework to respond to the COVID-19 impact on girls and boys education continuity in the short and long-term. Teaching and learning resources were produced and disseminated to children in remote schools which challenges gender stereotypes and harmful gender norms.
The Education Response Plan included a long-term vision in building the education system to be more resilient to future disruptions.
The 2008 National ICT Policy aims to ensure that all citizens possess broad literacy, numeracy and technological literacy skills for life, work, and lifelong learning and that there are adequate numbers of people with the specialist skills needed by the ICT industries and other PNG industries to service the needs of the economy. This is similarly highlighted in the 2020-29 National Education Plan that supports allowing learners to acquire globally comparable skills and knowledge through a Standards-Based Curriculum in consistence with the National Curriculum Standards Framework. The National Curriculum Statement includes ICT skills, aiming to assist students to know how to adapt directly and appropriately new technologies and knowledge to their environment and their own social and economic needs and utilise the full potential of information and communications technologies, which are also highlighted in the 2010-19 Universal Basic Education Plan.
Similar objectives are set in the 2020 Digital Transformation Policy, which aims to ensure all students are digitally literate. Digital skills include skills in digital and technological literacy, communication skills, problem solving, critical thinking, self-learning, teamwork, change management, creativity, and initiative. The 2023-27 Digital Government Plan and 2021 National Cybersecurity Policy additionally emphasize the inclusion of cybersecurity and cyber safety skills in the curriculum.
The 2023 National Media Development Policy aims to media literacy to be taught in all schools through various media literacy programs and initiatives. The purpose of School-Based Media Literacy Education is to integrate media literacy education into the school curriculum to ensure that students are equipped with the critical thinking skills and knowledge they need to understand and analyse media.
Science books and equipment have been distributed to secondary schools as part of a program to improve the delivery of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum. According to the 2020-29 National Education Plan, the government plans on developing e-curriculum lessons and programs, with the e-Learning Division tasked with developing and producing sets of e-curriculum support materials and delivering e-curriculum materials to schools (remote, rural and urban). According to the 2011-30 Education Sector Strategic Plan, a digital curriculum will be part of the expansion of education involving satellite technology.
The Girls in ICT Scholarship Program aims to encourage more girls to follow a career in ICT, minimize the gender imbalance in the ICT sector, and meet social obligations to have an educated ICT society. The policy took effect in 2013, aligning with the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU’s) objectives of the International Girls in ICT (GICT) day event. The main purpose of the Girls in ICT Tertiary Scholarship Policy is to provide a mechanism through which the National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA) can award successful 12-year-old female students annual financial support to undertake studies in ICT within a NICTA-recognized institution.
The 2009 Gender Equity in Education Policy: Guidelines for Implementation and 2013 Gender Equity and Social Inclusion Policy make no specific reference to technology and education.
The 2010 National Education Media Policy aims to develop appropriate pre-service and in-service ICT training programs for teachers and staff. According to the 2010-19 Universal Basic Education Plan, teachers should be trained to use appropriate ICT for sharing and accessing information. The ICT in Education Policy (that plans on being developed) must include a component on teacher training for all education staff on how to use the ICT systems at their disposal and advance technical training for ICT staff in a number of specialist areas. The training program will be incorporated into the Department of Education’s Professional Development Program. Moreover, the 2013 National Broadband Policy aims for all teachers to receive training in broadband applications and the use of broadband-enhanced educational resources in the classroom. This is similarly highlighted in the 2008 National ICT Policy, which supports supplying teachers with the skills to drive towards the information economy. The 2020-29 National Education Plan aims to train teachers to use appropriate ICT for sharing and accessing information.
The 2010-19 Universal Basic Education Plan additionally supports the need to deliver in-service basic teacher training through distance learning programs. The 2011-30 Education Sector Strategic Plan supports the delivery of a continuous professional development program for teachers that builds on the pre-service program which will be delivered through a mixed mode and utilizes the latest ICT as it becomes available.
2.4.1. Data privacy
There is no general data protection act or policy. The 2008 National ICT Policy highlights the importance of the protection of data privacy and intellectual property in line with International Privacy Standards, with no specific mention of education.
Data protection is additionally emphasized in the 2020 Digital Transformation Policy, which supports the development of data protection policies and legislation. The 2021 National Cybersecurity Policy similarly aims to build a strong cyber security environment that will safeguard the privacy of citizens as enshrined in the National Constitution. There is no mention of the protection of student data privacy in these documents, or the 2023 Cybersecurity Standards and Guidelines.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
Papua New Guinea’s 2018-22 Child Protection Policy principal outcomes include (a) that all children are safe from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation (including online abuse) and (b) children who have been abused receive services that enhance their recovery and well-being and that their family and community connections are preserved. The policy specifically aims to build education-sector capacity to prevent and respond to violence against and by children in schools, including sexual violence, bullying, and inter-school fights. The policy additionally aims to support innovation to prevent and strengthen reporting of online abuse and exploitation of children.
The 2014 Cybercrime Policy recognizes the need to educate Papua New Guinea citizens on cybercrime and cybersecurity issues, supporting the introduction of subjects and courses on cybercrime, how it can impact society and prevent measures, in its syllabus. The 2016 Cybercrime Code Act includes provisions on offences and penalties for different forms of cybercrime, including computer and content-related offences, offences related to the integrity of data, and cyber-attacks. There is no specific mention of cybercrime in schools.
The 2020 Digital Transformation Policy aims to protect students from the online environment.
The ICT Division is responsible for the provision of appropriate and sustainable ICT, which should be made readily available and used effectively by education personnel at national levels, subnational levels, and schools. According to the 2020-29 National Education Plan, collaboration between the ICT Division and provincial governments is encouraged to allow for increased coverage of ICT services within the Ministry.
The e-Learning Division works closely with other divisions to produce and distribute instructional programs and materials on a variety of different platforms (including radio, television, DVD, and print materials) to schools and other educational institutions. It is responsible for providing the Minister with advice on the development, procurement, and distribution of all e-learning programs in schools and the administration of school broadcast programs with EMTV and NBC. The e-Learning Division (ELD) is working closely with the ICT Division towards the development of an ICT Policy, Plan and e-Learning Policy Framework for the education sector which will guide the development of ICT across the entire education system (both in and out of schools).
The Flexible Distance and Open Education (FODE) is mandated to offer open and distance learning as an integral part of the national education system of Papua New Guinea. It offers an alternative choice for students who decide to study at home in an open and flexible environment, with courses in both primary and secondary education. FODE has a long-established network of provincial and district offices to sell and administer distance education programs. According to the 2020-29 National Education Plan, the government also plans on establishing a Remote School Improvement Unit under the Department of Education.
The National Education Media Centre (under the Department of Education) directs the expansion and use of the Education Media and ICT program throughout Papua New Guinea. It was originally established in 1984 with the aim to produce and coordinate school broadcast programs for primary schools. The TV section, created in 1988 to work alongside the School Broadcast Section, produced TV programs which were distributed on video tapes to high schools.
The National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA) is a government agency responsible for the regulation and licensing of ICT in Papua New Guinea. This includes the development of the National ICT Policies, Regulations and Plans.
The Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT), as the lead agency, aims to facilitate the digital transformation journey of Papua New Guinea, starting with transformation of government service delivery on a Whole-of-Government basis.
The National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) is responsible for enhancing cybersecurity in the country.
At the school level, the ICT Division and e-Learning Division provide support and professional assistance to schools who wish to establish e-libraries. Payment for these will be the responsibility of schools, using Government subsidy funds, or provinces using their EFG. Mobile phone use is not banned in classrooms.
According to the 2010 National Education Media Policy, each school has the responsibility to provide a good teaching and learning environment for students and teachers. The provision of Education Media aims to support schools in their endeavor to improve student welfare and their teaching and learning environment. Schools are individually responsible for developing school education and ICT management plans, ensuring funds are made available for regular use of educational ICT programs, conducting regular in-service training for teachers on educational media activities, and ensuring proper inventory of education media equipment and facilities.