Prime Minister Hon. James Marape has praised the resounding success of the Flexible Open Distance Education (FODE) concept, which he launched in 2020, for providing a “new lease of life” to thousands of school dropouts across Papua New Guinea.

Prime Minister Marape lauded the Department of Education’s 2022 Annual Report, presented to Parliament by Education Minister Hon. Jimmy Uguro on Tuesday, August 1, 2023, for its glowing scorecard on the FODE initiative. The report revealed a significant increase in FODE enrolment, with 82,877 students registering in 2022, a substantial leap from 35,513 in 2020.

“I am delighted to see the tremendous progress made by FODE since its launch in 2020, positively impacting the lives of numerous school dropouts nationwide,” Prime Minister Marape expressed.

He further highlighted the program’s achievements, stating, “Many students who have completed Grade 12 through FODE are continuing their education at universities and higher education institutions. The Department of Education is compiling a list of these success stories, showcasing the programme’s effectiveness.”

The statistics clearly indicate the success of the FODE initiative, with enrolments reaching 35,513 in 2020 and soaring to 82,877 in 2022, with expectations of further growth in 2023.

Prime Minister Marape also shed light on the expansion of FODE, utilising existing secondary school resources and gaining advocacy at all levels. “Formally registered and delivering the FODE secondary programme, 10 schools across East Sepik, West Sepik, Oro, Gulf, Eastern Highlands, and Southern Highlands have embraced this initiative,” he revealed. Additionally, six vocational education training centres are actively delivering FODE programmes.

Among the successful districts delivering FODE, Prime Minister Marape mentioned Tari-Pori, Usino-Bundi (Madang), Imbonggu (Southern Highlands), Kiunga (Western), Yangoru-Saussia (East Sepik), Maprik (East Sepik), Wau-Waria (Morobe), and Ialibu-Pangia (Southern Highlands).

Just last Wednesday, July 26, 2023, Prime Minister Marape inaugurated a FODE center at Mt. Diamond Adventist Secondary School, underscoring the importance of replicating this initiative throughout Papua New Guinea. He called upon Education Minister Uguro and Secretary Dr. Uke Kombra to take prompt action in implementing this model across the nation.

Prime Minister Marape emphasised the significance of incorporating Christian values and ethics into the curriculum, guiding young individuals through 13 years of education, from elementary to Grade 12. He also stressed the need to include practical life skills, such as agriculture, carpentry, and small business, to foster well-rounded individuals.

“I urge the Education Department to swiftly implement this model nationwide,” said Prime Minister Marape.

“Transforming all 369 high schools in the country into Flexible Open Distance Education campuses will empower our students and equip them for a brighter future.”