Challenges to the Democratisation of Knowledge: Status Hierarchies and Emerging Inequalities in Educational Opportunities Amongst Oil Palm Settlers in Papua New Guinea

  • Sean Ryan
  • George N. CurryEmail author
  • Emmanuel Germis
  • Gina Koczberski
  • Merolyn Koia
Part of the Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (EDAP, volume 30)


This chapter examines the educational levels and opportunities among migrant oil palm farming households in the three main oil palm-growing areas of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Whilst average adult education levels in oil palm farming communities are higher than the national average, they are still low given most children do not finish primary school. Moreover, findings indicate that population and income pressures are leading to increasing social and economic stratification within and between families. Inequality is most evident by the fact that children from families without regular access to oil palm income have lower education levels than those children from families living on the same block who regularly receive oil palm income. Stratification as differential educational opportunities is a new phenomenon reflecting greater individualism and the rise of market relations and has considerable development implications particularly for policies aimed at reducing poverty and vulnerability levels in rural PNG.


Inequalities Education Poverty Rural development Gender 



Many people assisted us during fieldwork. We would especially like to thank OPIC extension officers Jimmy Windu, Carlos Hildalgo, Justin Uraliu, Elly Lillius, Mark Bunita, Vincent Midal, Gideon Paul, Mckenzie Genau and Zachius Orutu. In addition, several research assistants were employed in each project area to assist with the surveys: Charlie Katepo, Jerome Kananai, Herman Kewaka, Alu Vegoa Jnr, Mosil Tickua, Abel T, Foksy Karaea, Owen Mongagi, Freddy Lapa and Fenny Nimalang.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sean Ryan
    • 1
  • George N. Curry
    • 1
    Email author
  • Emmanuel Germis
    • 2
  • Gina Koczberski
    • 1
  • Merolyn Koia
    • 3
  1. 1.Curtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.PNG Oil Palm Research AssociationKimbePapua New Guinea
  3. 3.PNG Oil Palm Research AssociationPopondettaPapua New Guinea

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