Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a country of enormous diversity and complexity. Comprising over 800 tribal groups, today there are over 700 distinct languages. The population is now over 7 million and is projected to exceed 9 million by 2020.
PNG is a dynamic environment, subject to political, economic and geographic vagaries and what these can cast up. Around 40 per cent of the population lives in poverty, that is, on less than $A1 a day. Preventable disease is widespread and rates of non-communicable disease are increasing. High birth rates and lack of adequate prenatal and neonatal services mean that many infants die before their first birthday and maternal death rates are among the highest in the world. An estimated 12,000 children under five die every year- around the same number as 20 years ago. Literacy rates are among the lowest in the world.
For the foreseeable future PNG will remain funding-dependent on overseas aid, principally Australia. Paradoxically PNG is also incredibly resource rich.
Producing PNG-specific titles since the late 1940s, OUP ANZ now publishes almost 500 titles for the PNG schools market, encompassing the local elementary, primary and secondary curriculum. OUP ANZ’s PNG Department (comprising publishing, editorial and sales & marketing) has forged close ties with the Department of Education, the Curriculum Development Unit, as well as local educators and teachers. The PNG team also has well-established business relations and credentials with PNG resellers, booksellers and stationers – and with key Aid-funded organisations namely AusAID, World Bank and EU.
Members of the PNG team regularly visit every three months for a fortnight each trip; mainly the key cities of Port Moresby and Lae but also including other major regional centres such as Goroka, Madang, Mount Hagen, Kerema, Alotau, Kavieng, Rabaul/Kokopo, Vanimo and Wewak.
In recent years we have been running a series of successful professional development workshops across the country. In July of this year PNG Publisher, Irene Sawczak, visited to conduct 13 workshops in 12 days, in four Provinces and the National Capital District. In total, 552 teachers attended these workshops. It was humbling to note that over 80 teachers in Madang came to the Saturday workshops, with many teachers travelling for over four hours to get to the venue.
As well as publishing market-appropriate titles and providing professional development workshops, OUP ANZ is also active in supporting the local community through charitable work. Buk bilong Pikinini (‘books for children’) was established in 2007 and is an independent not-for-profit organisation based in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, which aims to establish children’s libraries and promotes literacy to disadvantaged children. To date, they have established 16 libraries across the country with more planned to come.
OUP ANZ supports Buk bilong Pikinini as its organisation‘s objectives – a focus on early learning for the most disadvantaged children in Papua New Guinea – is worthy of financial support and aligns closely with the heart of OUP’s global mission to spreading learning and education.
PNG Manager, OUP ANZ