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Vernacular education in Papua New Guinea

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Abstract

With only about 6 million people, Papua New Guinea has over 800 separate languages, more than any other country. Until recently, English was the only language of formal education. At the end of the 1990s the national government initiated an educational reform mandating that the language of kindergarten through Grade 2 be in a “language of the community”. This chapter looks at the example of the challenge of establishing a school in the Nalik language of New Ireland Province. While the change to vernacular education has meant more children have at least a passive understanding of Nalik, the change from an English-only educational system is blamed by many parents for declining educational standards.

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