The largest of the Pacific Island countries, Papua New Guinea (PNG) has a population of more than 7 million but is still considered a small state of the Commonwealth. Papua New Guinea faces numerous development challenges, many of them related to health and natural resource management. 



School-age Population by Education Level1









Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Secondary Education
for the school year ending 20161









Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Tertiary Education1









Percentage of female teachers in 1




Secondary (2016)


Tertiary (1999)



1. UNESCO Institute for Statistics Data Centre, retrieved in March 2020


Literacy rate (2012)1




Adult (15+) literacy rate


Adult (15+) literacy rate



Economic Activity (2010)1




Adult (15+) economic activity


Adult (15+) economic activity



Political Decision Making (2014)1


Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament



Life expectancy (2012)1









1. COL gender country profile April 2015 


1.9 47.6
Fixed-telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants1 Mobile-cellular subscriptions per 100 inhabitants1



0.2 10.9
Fixed-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants1 Mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants1



4.7 11.2
Households with a computer (%)1 Individuals using the internet (%)1



1. International Telecommunication Union (ITU) ICT Eye Country profile, retrieved in March 2020



COL’s work in Papua New Guinea is primarily in the area of technical and vocational skills development and tertiary education, through the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth.


  • COL is currently working with two partners in PNG on a programme to support skills development and sustainable livelihoods for young women and their communities. COL has received a project proposal from the Young Women’s Christian Association of PNG, who will take the lead in this activity. We are in the programme design phase and aim to commence project activities with an initial targeted cohort in 2018.

Learn more about the Gender initiative.

Higher Education

  • As part of COL’s Higher Education initiative, five staff at the University of Papua New Guinea received COL scholarships that enabled them to enrol in the eLearning certificate offered by New Zealand’s Open Polytechnic.
  • In 2017, COL and the University of Seychelles launched a new massive open online course (MOOC) titled “Understanding the Blue Economy,” which was developed through VUSSC. The course is of particular interest to small island states and was made available to learners globally.

Learn more about the Higher Education initiative.

Pacific Centre for Flexible and Open Learning for Development

  • COL and USP work collaboratively in supporting the Pacific Centre for Flexible and Open Learning for Development (PACFOLD), a regional centre for capacity building in open and distance learning (ODL) in the Pacific. The centre’s priorities include: advocacy and capacity building for flexible and open learning for sustainable development; the development of regional and national policies on open, distance and flexible learning; and research on flexible and open learning.
  • The online community PACFOLD Learn was launched in early 2017.
  • Also in 2017, PACFOLD offered its online course on Flexible Skills Development, with participants from across the region.

Learn more about the Pacific Centre for Open and Flexible Learning for Development.

Technical and Vocational Skills Development

  • In June 2017, COL welcomed participants from nine Pacific countries to a regional workshop on OER course design for technical and vocational education and training (TVET), held in Suva, Fiji. The four-day workshop was hosted by the Pacific Technical and Further Education institute at the University of the South Pacific (USP) and aimed to strengthen TVET in the region through the use OER, to address the needs and priorities of the Pacific island states; 26 TVET educators, including representatives from PNG, attended the workshop.

Learn more about the Technical and Vocational Skills Development initiative.

Technology-Enabled Learning

  • In 2017, teachers from PNG participated in COL’s TEL MOOC course.
  • A number of learners from PNG participated in the MOOC Climate Change and Pacific Islands, offered by USP in collaboration with COL and UNESCO.

Learn more about the Technology-Enabled Learning initiative.

Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth

  • Papua New Guinea is a member of the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC). The University of Papua New Guinea and representatives of the government have been participating in VUSSC events and courses.

Learn more about the VUSSC initiative.


Partnerships are fundamental to COL’s work. Strategic partnerships allow COL to broaden its reach and engage at global, regional and national levels, while implementation partners support COL’s work in communities and institutions across Commonwealth Member States. Partners include multilateral organisations, regional bodies, national governments, government agencies, foundations, civil society organisations, public and private (not-for-profit) institutions and the private sector.

COL partners in Papua New Guinea include:

  • Department of Education
  • University of Papua New Guinea