A former education secretary in Papua New Guinea, Dr Joseph Pagelio, says the country is facing a reading crisis.
He says more than three quarters of a million elementary school students cannot read.
Mr Pagelio, who headed the department of education until recently, is urging it to come up with strategies to combat the problem.
The Post Courier reports him saying the only way to improve is to introduce early childhood learning, especially in elementary and grade one.
Mr Pagelio says the introduction of jolly phonics to elementary schools will help children as young as four years of age to read.
A pilot project on this programme, initiated by Mr Pagelio, has already run at two two elementary schools - Hohola Demonstration and Wardstrip in the National Capital District.
The headmistress of Hohola Demonstration Elementary, Anna Arore, says it has had a positive impact.