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This paper was originally presented to the Linguistic Society of Papua New Guinea in Madang in 1995. It outlines the history of language policy in PNG, with a focus and discussion of post-independence (1975) policy in particular. During this latter period the vernacular languages became an accepted and integral part of the early village school curricula. Early top-down control of local education was gradually reversed as the decentralized grassroots policy proved more successful. The review given here demonstrates how the process of indigenous literacy development proceeded and how it conformed to national guidelines.