Press Release - World Bank to Work with Government of PNG to Improve Employment and Education Prospects for Papua New Guinea's Youth

WASHINGTON D.C., January 11, 2011-The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a US$17 million International Development Association credit for the Urban Youth Employment Project. The project will develop training and temporary employment opportunities for urban youth in Papua New Guinea to improve their long-term prospects. The Board also approved the US$5 million Flexible and Open Distance Education Project which will focus on increasing the number of out-of-school youth who complete recognized secondary diploma and certificate equivalency programs via distance learning.

Young people under the age of twenty account for almost half of Papua New Guinea's total population and constitute a disproportionate part of the urban poor. In Port Moresby, the country's capital, young people between the ages of 15 and 29 represent over one third of the population, compared to about a quarter nationally. It is estimated that the country's youth population will grow by at least another 13 percent by 2015. A large proportion of out-of-school youth lack the publically recognized certification that would allow them to qualify for higher levels of education or to meet the minimum education requirements of some employers.

"By developing these projects the World Bank and Government of Papua New Guinea are making a major investment in not only the country's young people but also its future," said Ferid Belhaj, World Bank Country Director, Papua New Guinea. "Young people are powerful agents for change and I know that given opportunities to develop their skills, young Papua New Guineans will achieve remarkable things."

The Urban Youth Empowerment Project aims to make a difference in the lives of 17,500 young people in Port Moresby, between the ages of 16 and 25. It will support the National Capital District Commission to secure job experience opportunities for youth in the public works sector. The project will give those in need a second chance to gain work experience and acquire skills that will help them realize their potential and prepare them for the workforce. This will help improve not just their employability, but their lives in general.

The Flexible and Open Distance Education Project will support the College for Flexible and Distance Education (FODE) to improve education outcomes. The project will increase opportunities for out-of-school youth to gain recognized qualifications and improve the performance and services of those students enrolled in FODE courses. It will focus on improving the quality of the equivalency curriculum and provincial support services; increase tutor-student contact hours in the provincial centers; introduce new technologies that would improve efficiencies and reduce costs; and improve the quality of student assessment.