Higher And Technical Education Transition and Reform-DHERST Minister’s Press Statement

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Hon.Wesley Raminai, MP Minister for DHERST Image Credit: www.parliament.gov.pg

Pursuant of the Higher and Technical Education Reform Act 2020 and the Higher Education General Provisions (Amendment) Act 2020 I am delighted to advise the transfer of the Gazetted Higher Education institutions to the regulatory oversight of the Ministry and Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (DHERST).

The effective transfer dates were signed into effect by Grand Chief, Sir Bob Dadae, CGL, G.C.M.G, K,St,J. Governor General and published in the PNG National Gazette No. G343, Port Moresby 28th May 2021.

The Higher and Technical Education Reform Act 2020 provides the legal mechanism for the transfer of regulatory oversight of higher education institutions (HEIs) to the Ministry for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology and DHERST in accordance with NEC Decision NG25/2017.

HEI’s transferring to DHERST under the Reform Act are State-owned institutions and Agency Institutions where more than 50% of their annual funding (including staffing costs) is provided by state.

The Higher and Technical Education Reform Act 2020 and related Amendment Acts represent the enabling legislation for the implementation of the NEC Decisio 25/2017 to reform, transform, and unify the higher education system in Papua New Guinea; and align with Higher and Technical Education Strategic Plan 2017-2038 address key education outcomes for the Higher Education Sector and for our country. From the effective transfer date for a Higher Education Institute the HEI:”

  • Will be subject to new governance requirements set out in the Higher Education General Provisions (Amendment) Act 2020.
  • Will be deemed to be under the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (DHERST)
  • Will be deemed to be registered under the Higher Education General Provisions (Amended) Act 2020 and HEI programs will be deemed to be accredited. This deemed registration and accreditation will be provisional subject to ongoing quality assurance processes by DHERST.

In order for the transfers to operate effectively, the Higher and Technical Education Reform Act 2020 has certain transitional arrangements in reference to the following:

Conditions of Service for Transferring Staff

Staff of transferred HEIs will transfer on their existing employment terms and conditions for at least 12 months, after which they may be offered a new contract of employment. Staff who are not offered positions or who do not wish to transfer on new contracts may be redeployed, retrenched or take retirement if eligible.

DHERST and any other Departments affected by the transfer of HEIs must use their best endeavours to transfer or redeploy any departmental staff affected by the Reform Act.

Interim Governing Council Arrangements

Existing Governing Council arrangements will remain in place for 6 months after transfer date to allow for new Governing Councils to be appointed in accordance with the new governance arrangements under the HEGPA Amendment Act. The Reform Act provides for the appropriate transfer of land, assets, liabilities, rights and entitlements to DHERST in relation to each State-owned transferred institution.

Higher Education Governance Manual

The new Governance Manual weblink provides full Governance Provisions for transferring HEIs can be accessed through

https://web.dherst.gov.pg/students/downloads/category/9-governance-manuals

The Higher Education General Provisions (Amendment) Act 2020 (known as the HEGPA) is designed to empower and support the post-secondary institutions under a clear legal, governance and performance management framework to achieve their HEI goals.

The HEGPA is therefore substantially amended to deal with the governance, financing, management, leadership, staffing, technical, academic and systems development of the HEIs that are transferred.

The HEGPA has been amended to allow HEIs to apply for approval to deliver national curriculum or national training packages.

The HEGPA Amendment Act 2020 provides for a process whereby DHERST may develop, or facilitate the development of national curriculum or national training packages relating to subject matter areas of national importance or as identified as national skills priorities.

Proposed national curriculum or national skills packages will be developed in consulation with relevant institutions, professional accreditation organizations and other stakeholders for approval by the National Higher and Technical Education Board (NHTEB).

Once approved by the NHTEB, the proposed national curriculum and national training packages are provided to the Minister who shall determine them by publishing a Notice in the National Gazette.

Stronger Engagement with Business And Industry

The HEGPA is amended to include a new objective to promote the support of business and industry to ensure programmes offered by HEIs are demand-driven, relevant and quality assured to support national skills priorities for social and economic development.

The HEGPA is amended to give DHERST overriding power to enter into arrangements with external organizations (eg. Private training organizations, donor, corporate entities (to provide targeting training in skills priority areas in HEIs.

While the power already exists under the HEGPA for the establishment of the National Skills Development Agency (NSDA), and advisory body to DHERST, the HEGPA is amended to strengthen that jurisdiction.

Far-reaching Gender Equality And Social Inclusion (GESI) initiatives.

Under the HEGPA, HEIs must not discriminate on the basis of gender, race or religion and must actively promote principles of gender equity and social inclusion . This is reinforced by the requirement for HEIs to have current and effective GESI policies for both students and staff. An assessment of the effectiveness of a HEIs GESI policies will form part of HEI’s annual performance assessment and audit.

HEGPA also specifies that gender balance is required on HEI Governing Councils. HEI Nomination Committees must ensure that this requirement is implemented and the National Higher and Technical Education Board (NHTEB) will scrutinize nominations accordingly. DHERST will support HEIs in the implementation of GESI policies and the principles with the implementation of a sector wide GESI policy and tool-kit.

New Powers of the National Higher and Technical Education Board ( NHTEB)

The transfer of HEIs means that new powers under the HEGPA Amendment need to be given to the NHTEB to approve the Higher and Technical Education Strategic Plan; to approve the appointment of Governing Council members of HEIs (including Chairs and Deputy Chairs); to terminate the membership of a Governing Council member of a HEI; to approve Rules for HEI, and to approve national curriculum and national training packages.

Higher Education Reform Vital for PNG’s Development.

The Marape-Basil Government has driven the process for reforming, transforming and unifying the higher education sector in Papua New Guinea to empower young people for a brighter future. Unlocking the minds and potential of our young people is the purpose of our education system that underpins the work of the Ministry and the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology.

Quality education at all levels is vitally important for increasing PNG’s human and economic development, prosperity and competiveness. The reform introduces necessary changes to the Higher Education Sector. There is fundamental recognition that simply increasing access is not enough. We have very low growth in the number of students attending and successfully graduating with a quality education from our institutions. Such numbers are amongst the lowest in the world and cannot adequately drive or support our rapidly growing economy without also addressing the quality of graduate output and the readiness of graduates for employment in the social and economic sectors.

Technical and vocational training is an integral part of the higher education sector. Technical and vocational training is critically important in skills development and in fostering science, technology and innovation, driving the application, adaptation and use of new technologies. The building of a skilled workforce with the capacity to replace current large numbers of migrant workers also has significant sustainable benefits to the PNG economy and community.

The transition and reform agenda will contribute to the acceleration of economic growth through the provision of  much needed expertise in science and technology, including intermediate and higher level vocational and technical skills.

For the transferring HEIs listed in the Gazettal Notice, DHERST will be working very closely with you over the coming months to ensure a successful transition period and a constructive ongoing reform agenda for your institution.

May God bless Papua New Guinea

Hon Wesley Raminai, MP

Minister for Higher and Technical Education ,Research , Science and Technology (DHERST)

Source: Public Press Statement By DHERST Minister released to public media on Monday June 7th 2021

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