Papua New Guinea: Reading for a Better Future

May 12, 2016

A program is helping children in the early grades of school to read better. This is accomplished through a literacy program that has provided books to establish classroom libraries and train teachers to improve their teaching of reading.

Challenge

In Papua New Guinea, low levels of literacy are a critical challenge for the country’s development. Of the country’s seven million people, more than a third (37%) are illiterate with the majority living in rural areas.

PNG’s challenging terrain is another major obstacle for the distribution of learning materials to schools, particularly remote parts of the country. 

Approach

To improve the reading skills of elementary and primary education students, the Reading Education Project for Papua New Guinea (READ PNG) is:

  • Increasing the availability of books and learning materials by establishing classroom libraries in elementary and primary schools. The books and learning materials are intended to supplement classroom textbooks; giving children constant exposure to reading materials and fostering positive reading habits.
  • Promoting reading through professional development of PNG teachers, combined with the establishment of professional teacher networks and public reading campaigns.
  • Strengthening Early Grade Reading Assessments to ensure improved monitoring and assessment of PNG children’s reading levels.
Results

Beginning in 2011, the READ PNG project was completed in December 2015. The project has:

  • Established 21,000 classroom libraries in all 22 provinces of PNG.
  • Seen over 240,000 teachers participate in professional development programs.
  • Seen the average number of Grade 3 students in Madang who are unable to identify a single sound in a word drop from 22% in 2011 to 4% in 2015.
  • In the Western Highlands, the average number of Grade 3 students who were unable to identify a single sound in a word has dropped from 35% in 2011 to 4% in 2015, and the proportion of students unable to read a single letter has dropped from 22% in 2011 to just two percent in 2015.

" My students’ pronunciation, fluency, blending has really improved since we introduced the classroom libraries. "

Teresa Kil

Grade 3 teacher at the Rimbuka Primary School, Western Highlands Province

To improve literacy rates in the country, the Department of Education with support from the World Bank has established more than 21,000 classroom libraries across Papua New Guinea.

World Bank Group

Bank Group Contribution

READ PNG is funded entirely by the Global Partnership for Education through the Pacific Sub-Region Free-Standing Trust Fund. It is managed by the World Bank.

Partners

The total project cost was $19.2 million and was funded under the Pacific Sub-Region Free-Standing Trust Fund Program and the Global Fund for Education. The project is being implemented by the PNG National Department of Education with support from the World Bank.

Moving Forward

The project is expected to increase the supply of books on the market in PNG and stimulate a market for books going forward. The teacher training module delivered under the project also addressed the issue of stock and inventory systems so that necessary replacements can be planned.

Beneficiaries

Teresa Kil is a Grade 3 teacher at the Rimbuka Primary School, Western Highlands Province, who participated in the teacher training:

“I have learnt a lot in reading skills, and these skills have helped me a lot in how I am teaching reading to the students. I am able to teach children proper reading skills, and at the same time, assess students better,” she said about the READ PNG program.

“My students’ pronunciation, fluency, blending has really improved since we introduced the classroom libraries.”

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21,000 classroom libraries