The Secretary of Education in Papua New Guinea says the government cannot provide free primary education without the help of international donors.
Dr Jospeh Pangelio's comments come after the National Reserach Institute called on the government to fully subsidise fees because half the child population were not attending school.
In the NRI survey, school fees and lack of access were reasons given for children not attending school.
However Dr Pangelio says the government cannot afford to totally abolish fees.
He says it is hoped that by 2012 elementary fees for children from 6 to 8 years old will be removed.
Dr Pangelio says for primary education to be free the department will need to approach donors for help.
"That's our intention and that's why we are doing our work to see if we can provide the data. At the end of the day we would like to submit a project proposal to the government as well as international donors to see if they can help us to address the issue of basic education, universal primary education."