Papua New Guinea launches its COVID-19 Education Emergencies Response and Recovery Plan
PORT MORESBY, 9 October 2020 – The National Department of Education (NDoE) today launched the country’s COVID-19 Education Emergency Response and Recovery Plan (EERRP) that will help sustain learning and inclusion during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
This nationally endorsed plan details actions and sustainable initiatives to address challenges that the education system has faced since the school closures in March 2020 that disrupted the education of almost 2.4 million students across the country due to COVID-19.
Hon. Joseph Yopyyopy, Minister for Education, Papua New Guinea said: “I am very pleased that the Government of Papua New Guinea through the NDoE COVID-19 Education Emergency Response and recovery Plan has secured funds from the Global partnership for Education (GPE) and the Government of Australia to address the impact of COVID-19 on our basic education system. It is imperative that our students return to classes now that our schools have reopened and that schools be a safe place for teaching and learning for all children and their teachers”
The EERRP is the result of a rapid education needs assessment undertaken by the NDoE in close collaboration with key partners – the Government of Australia, GPE, PNG Council of Churches, PNG Disability Sector Coalition, PNG Partnership Fund, Save the Children, UNICEF, and other Education Cluster members – in April and May 2020 to ensure that students continue learning during and after the pandemic.
Australian High Commission Minister-Counsellor, Andrew Egan congratulated the Department of Education on the launch of the Plan.
“Papua New Guinea has shown leadership in developing a clear plan to ensure children continue to learn through the biggest global crisis of our generation,” Mr Egan said.
“Australia is proud to contribute over PGK 10 million to these efforts to ensure school children are able to access distant learning and continue classes safely.”
Key findings of the assessment that was undertaken by NDoE inspectors and guidance officers through telephone interviews with head teachers from 404 schools and education institutions included challenges such as a lack of access to accurate information about COVID-19 (82%), safety and protection issues (81%), lack of supervision at home (78%) and limited access to WASH facilities (75%).
The EERRP was developed by the NDoE with support from Education Cluster members including Save the Children, UNICEF, Callan Services for Persons with Disability National Unit, CARE International, Caritas PNG, ChildFund PNG, Decentralization Citizen Participation Partnership, Government of Australia, PNG Council of Churches, Japan International Cooperation Agency, PNG Disability Sector Coalition, UNESCO and World Vision International. The plan includes four phases: (a) All students can continue remote learning safely, (b) All students and teachers can return safely to school, (c) All students are safe and learning, (d) The education system is more resilient to future disruptions, and implementation has started already.
A substantial donor support of over PGK 32 million from the GPE will fund key priorities outlined in the plan while a further PGK 10 million from the Government of Australia will support Water, Sanitation and Hygiene interventions in schools and also provide COVID-19 support to secondary schools.
“Even brief interruptions in education can have devastating consequences on children’s learning and wellbeing.” said Alice Albright, GPE’s CEO. “These emergency funds from GPE will help Papua New Guinea ensure that all girls and boys can continue learning safely, and that no child’s education is left behind because of COVID-19.”
“The long-term impacts of the epidemy is threatening children’s wellbeing including their right to learn, hence the grant received assists students and teachers in Papua New Guinea to continue remote learning and return to classes. The support received from the GPE and the Government of Australia will also go a long way towards ensuring that schools are able to better prevent and control an outbreak of COVID-19 and that schools will be more resilient in managing any future disruptions,” David Mcloughlin, UNICEF Representative said.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Papua New Guinea, visit https://www.unicef.org/png/