The positive economic development during the 1990s was not followed by the corresponding improvement in education and literacy. The school system has major shortcomings at all levels. Very small changes occurred between 1990 and 2005 despite extensive development assistance from Australia. This collaboration continues and the goals are highly concrete, but the improvements are still slow. The level of education in Papua New Guinea is very low in both regional and global comparisons. In 2009, 40% of the adult population could not read or write.
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The fee-based schooling begins at the age of six with a preschool year, followed by eight years of primary school. In the first years, the teaching will be given in the local area and with the support of the local language. In many neighborhoods, however, schools are lacking in the villages. In 2009, only 63% of children were enrolled in primary school and in some remote rural areas and in urban slums, the proportion was much lower. Only three out of five children enrolled complete primary school. Lack of educated teachers, textbooks and other material means that the teaching in many schools is of low quality. Responsibility for the school’s activities is decentralized, resulting in major regional differences in the amount of resources allocated to education.
The elementary school is followed by a four-year continuing school, which was expanded mainly in the cities. Only 17% of children of that age are enrolled there, and a small part of them complete the education. The country has a large shortage of both theoretically and practically trained labor.
In Papua New Guinea there were five universities in 2010. The largest are the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea University of Technology in Lae. About 40% of both primary and secondary schools and universities are affiliated with any Christian church.
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Knowledge and culture
Schooling in Papua New Guinea is not compulsory and you have to pay school fees. Around half of the country’s schools are run by various denominations and mission organizations. 59 percent of children went to school at primary school level in 2008. Over 40 percent of the country’s adult population is illiterate (2010).
There are seven universities in Papua New Guinea. The largest are the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby and the University of Technology (Unitech) in Lae.
Two nationwide daily newspapers are published: Post Courier and The National. In addition, there are two weekly newspapers (Wantok Niuspepa and The Independent) and several regional newspapers. The country has a national TV station and a wide variety of national, regional and local radio stations.
The cultural life of Papua New Guinea is characterized by the great ethnic diversity. A number of major festivals are held annually around the country where people line up in traditional costumes and perform local dances. There are few tourists to Papua New Guinea, but such festivals are popular destinations for those visiting the country.
There is a small environment for popular music in the country. Popular music influenced by traditional music has long been popular, including represented by the band Sanguma and musician George Telek, and the same goes for reggae-inspired music. In 1991 gave percussionist in Grateful Dead out a recording of traditional music from Papua New Guinea called Voices of the Rainforest.