Papua New Guinea
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Secondary school failures a serious cause for concern

In the 1980s, there were only four national high schools in PNG that offered matriculation studies through grades 11 and 12.

These schools were Sogeri in Papua region, Aiyura in Highlands region, Passam in Mamose region and Kerevat in Islands region.

The top grade 10 graduates from various schools nationwide ended up at each of these 4 schools.

Over the past 30 years, things have changed a lot in the PNG education system.

More and more high schools are now offering year 11 and 12 subjects. But as results show, they are failing, and falling behind badly.

Schools have increased and the number of students has more than quadrupled. This has put a lot of pressure on school infrastructure and staffing of schools.

While schools in cities and towns may seem okay, it is the rural schools that suffer most in lack of teaching materials, infrastructure, communication, funding and teaching staff.

This is a never-ending scenario year in, year out. No government seems to have the right answer for this repeated education fiasco every new year.

The government’s free education seems to do wonders by compounding the situation, and with poor school management, lack of transparency and accountability, the results are often chaotic.

So when the Year 12 mean average results were posted last week, it was quite frightening to note the number of failures created by the system.

The Prime Minister James Marape and his Higher Education Minister Don Polye must take serious note of these results.

Essentially what we have created is a system that has miserably failed. It has produced failures because of a number of reasons.

The students are either lazy or incompetent, the teachers are not qualified or not attending to their duties for various reasons, the school management and board are not managing their schools professionally.

The Education Department Secretary Uke Kombra seriously needs to institute an inquiry into this massive failure by our matriculation institutions.

His announcement in Wabag at the senior education officers’ conference to phase out elementary schooling and replace that level with early childhood learning is welcomed.

If Kombra is serious, he should improve the GPA for teacher training from 2.8 to 3.0 because our education system is dysfunctional when we have teachers who cannot read or write and cannot comprehend the programs they are to deliver.

Promising teachers high salaries is a joke. We say teachers who perform diligently, perform their tasks without fail, and deliver honest results should be rewarded not only with salary, perks and privileges, but further training overseas.

For the Standards Base curriculum to promote and produce the very best of the best in quality improvement, quality learning and quality teaching, we suggest that the government take a hardcore approach in sponsoring only students who pass the HECAS & TESAS scholarship requirements.

Only 17 schools that offer grades 11 and 12 scored 90 percent and above and were graded with ‘A’ high distinction.

Among these were the four original and old schools, Passam, which topped the country with 99.75, Kerevat second with 98.61, Sogeri 95.19 in ninth place and Aiyura (94.18) finishing eleventh.