ERIC Number: ED503283
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Structural Framework for Higher Education Open and Distance Learning in Papua New Guinea
Abrioux, Dominique A. M. X.
Commonwealth of Learning
Realizing the critical need to dramatically improve access to higher education in Papua New Guinea, and the impossibility for traditional modes of education to adequately address this situation given major economic and geographic variables in that country, the National Higher Education Plan 11 (2000-2004) assigned a primordial role to the development and delivery of a high quality distance and flexible education model. The plan, agreed to by government and the country's higher education institutions and coordinating body, and reinforced by a comprehensive consultants' report (Moore et al., 2000), included the following key undertakings: (1) The centralizing of resources in order to strengthen and upgrade course design, materials development, and course delivery and the establishment of a National Open Learning Institute; (2) The end of offerings by public higher education institutions of matriculation and entry-level programs by distance education, areas that had been hitherto been their primary area of focus; (3) The establishment of a Distance and Flexible Learning Committee to be responsible for distance and flexible education policy development and the coordination of planning and development; and (4) The creation of a national higher education budget policy for courses offered by distance or other flexible learning modes. Some seven years after government and institutional agreement to transform distance and flexible learning through these and other means, the present study (resulting from an indepth series of on-site interviews, and a review of pertinent documentation) reveals that: (1) Few of the agreed-to measures have been implemented; (2) Where recommendations have been implemented, for the most part they have been ineffectual as a result of lack of government or institutional buy-in and commitment; (3) That notwithstanding a significant improvement in the quality of distance education courseware now produced, the individual student's learning experience has barely improved, and this because the institutions (in order to generate profit form university-level distance education) have adopted a pedagogical model that marginalizes course delivery by mixing distance students into existing cohorts of on-campus students with only minimal pedagogical adjustments; (4) Given the very real need for pre-university matriculation programs, and the fact that these can be developed and delivered with minimal or no involvement from traditional faculties, higher education institutions have increased, rather than eliminated, their serving of this market; (5) Whereas university-level course enrolments through distance and flexible learning have increased significantly at the University of Papua New Guinea's Open College (from about 2,500 in 1999 to about 4,500 in 2007), the only other public university that was engaged in distance education in 2000 (University of Papua New Guinea University of Technology) has failed to expand (or even to maintain) its university-level distance courses and program, and none of the other public universities have even started to develop distance education courses or programs; and (6) Given the scope of the accessibility to higher education problem in Papua New Guinea (estimated at about 10,000 eligible high school leaving students per year unable to gain admission), dramatic and systemic changes are required if distance and flexible learning is to start addressing this issue. After addressing the current strengths and weakness of distance education in Papua New Guinea, and analyzing the causes thereof, the following (inter alia) key recommendations are made with a view to improving Papua New Guinea's commitment to distance and flexible learning in its higher education system. The following are appended: (1) Documents Consulted; and (2) Interviewees.
Descriptors: Distance Education, Foreign Countries, Open Education, Access to Education, Educational Methods, Educational Policy, Educational Planning, Budgets, Educational Quality, Computer Uses in Education, Higher Education, Committees, Curriculum Development, Educational Finance, Government Role
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: Commonwealth of Learning
Identifiers - Location: Papua New Guinea