21 March 2016
Thanks to her Australia Awards Fellowship – PNG, Sabati Mero is ready to take on the challenge of supporting one of the most significant education reforms in Papua New Guinea’s history, the delivery of tuition fee free policy.
As the Director for the Strategic Planning and Policy Division at the Department of Education, one of PNG’s largest government work-force, Sabati knows all too well the challenges in implementing this new policy. To ensure its successful delivery Sabati is responsible for supporting the development of Education Plans at the department’s many provincial and district level offices.
Each of Department of Education offices throughout the country is expected to develop Education Plans that guide how schools will administer teaching and manage funds received by the government.
“When the PNG Government introduced the new tuition fee free policy, school boards and principals were also required to appropriately record and account for Government funds received,” Sabati said.
“It was only discovered through my division as a part of our research and assessment activities, that many of the schools lacked the capacity to effectively manage these funds.”
When Sabati was awarded an Australia Awards Fellowship to undertake studies in Australia, her goal was to gain the technical skills and knowledge to support capacity development of head teachers and school boards to develop better financial management systems.
“The Graduate Certificate in Governance and Public Policy course offered through the University of Queensland was such an exciting and refreshing learning experience for me.
“With experienced lecturers from the university teaching us the trade of practicing effective governance and public policy implementation, it really opened up my mind to what I could bring back to my division,” Sabati said.
As part of the Fellowship, Sabati had to prepare a work plan for how she would apply the knowledge gained in Australia to her workplace in PNG.
“The objective of my work plan on return was to develop a program that would support the capacity development of school boards and management to develop sound financial management systems when formulating their own Education Plans,” Sabati said.
Sabati strongly believes her studies in Australia have better equipped her to ensure all provincial and district level Department of Education offices develop Education Plans that demonstrate effective management of government funds.
She is currently working on sourcing funds to conduct financial management training courses throughout the country that will contribute significantly to ensuring the PNG Government’s free tuition policy is effectively implemented.
Sabati’s course with the University of Queensland was not the first time she has studied in Australia. She also completed a Master of Education through the Australia Awards Scholarship program at the Queensland University of Technology in 2009.
Since 1996, more than 2000 Papua New Guineans have studied in Australia on scholarships. By promoting knowledge, education links and enduring people-to-people ties, the Australia Awards are an integral part of Australia’s commitment to working with the Government of Papua New Guinea to improve living standards and stimulate economic growth.