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Effects of outcome-based education in Papua New Guinea

John IromeaJOHN IROMEA | Solomon Star [extracts]

I WOULD LIKE TO RAISE some important aspects of the Outcome-Based Curriculum, or Outcome Based Education (OBE), in Papua New Guinea.

Let me begin, by saying, large numbers of children in developing countries receive little or no formal education.

I would like to share with you some important lessons to consider, especially during this time when we have new changes and new influences that had crept into our education practices.

As someone who spent most of his time working and studying in PNG, I think it is the right time to raise an issue of great concern - the OBE system in PNG. I am sure Solomon Islanders would learn a lot from this OBE lesson in the PNG education system.

PNG has undergone some substantive changes since 1994 to cater for the new OBE education reform.

It has been generally agreed that OBE would accommodate the real needs and aspirations of Papua New Guineans.

Many Papua New Guineans would expect that OBE would bring changes in the curriculum status, identifying the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that all students would achieve at a particular grade in a particular subject.

However, what the government of PNG and its people were expecting did not eventuate. The OBE reform has now come to a deadlock. Results gathered nationwide shows that there is a big problem with the implementation process.

Therefore, the government of PNG has decided to scrap OBE and retain the old system, Objective Base Education.

Generally speaking, the reform, although a good idea, in practice lacked many resources to foster its implementation.

From my own observation and research experience, I would like to mention that much of the policy would need more planning and feasibility groundwork before it can become a reality in school settings.

In addition, the government literally failed to fully capacitate the education system in the light of this reform. Lack of qualified teaching personnel and specialist manpower meant that the students learning experiences in classroom was seriously affected.

It created a lot of problems for the teachers who had direct contact with students in the classroom.

The government of PNG accepted Outcome Based Education without proper preparation in terms of adequate facilities, relevant teaching and learning materials, and properly trained specialist teachers to teach the content of newly introduced subjects.

In Papua New Guinea, the formal education system appears to fail more students than help them.

As such, the number of students enrolled for further studies is still low comparable to other Pacific nations. Even the literacy rate for PNG is, according to recent statistics, one of the lowest in the Asia Pacific region.


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Robin Lillicrapp

As we view today's world with its geopolitical turmoil; and wonder at the generational divide, it is often perplexing to trace the roots to societal dysfunction.

I think the difficulties of today's student experiences may, reasonably, be sheeted home to the efforts expended by educational change agents intent on shaping a new world order.

An excerpt from an article (Outcome-Based Education: The highjacking of America's children) by Frank Morriss in 1999 may serve to illustrate:

Toward A Socialist Transformation Of The West

Antonio Gramsci, Italian revolutionist of the early 20th Century, was a prophet of methodology for change, the methodology of ideological and cultural infiltration using all means, and especially education, as the carrier.

Gramsci considered "two revolutions," the one waged by Communism in Europe and comprised of uprisings, seizure of power, subversion aimed at destroying existing structures, and transferred to the United States particularly after the collapse of prosperity.

This revolution was unwinnable, in Gramsci's thesis, because it had not first won over the mind of the existing order and structure. Only by so doing, he argued, could that order and structure be replaced by the Marxist socialist apparatus.

Paul Oates

We all know that unless you practice a language and start thinking in it, your fluency suffers.

Maybe the interaction between those who do speak English needs to be fostered in forums a 'tad' higher in level than the average Facebook or Twitter salutation?

Antsson Anderson

Outcome Based Education (OBE) is confusing to many students in the country. Comparing the older people who were using Standards Based Education (SBE) with the current university students, the old bombs way of speaking English and way of thinking is better.

The latest university students are trying hard to speak fluent English and finding it more complicated to understand simple written English.

Therefore just burn this OBE system and go back to our old system of education, SBE.

Glennys Sani

I think there is always a negative and a positive in all system whether the old system, OBE and can be Standard Base Education.

The only thing we need is the government for the day should go down to the level of every schools in towns and as well as the remoted schools and see for themselves how the curriculum implemented.

See the needs of the students and teachers there and fully funded teaching materials and resource books, build more classrooms to carter for the students, library and teachers houses as well.

These things contribute to the learning of the students and also fully implementing of the system introduced.

Steve W Labuan

The new education policy, as recommended by the education task force and recently approved by NEC will be similar to what Andrew Wangi has suggested for structure - but with an improvement to the OBE approach to avoid what Dameng Tamagao for instance is fearing.

Fearing of taking risks is a good thing so long as it is taken, and especially when we know our determination will produce the best result.

Let us take the fear of implementing the new education policy as our motivation factor to do it right this time for our children. Team work is required, and together we can be there.

Dameng Tomagao

Has anybody read the book, "Deliberate Dumbing Down of America"?

Outcome-Based Education is a weapon of suppression manufactured and tested in the United States and then shipped to the world through UNESCO.

Andrew Wangi

The elementary education can remain but I suggest that English language be taught to the students rather than tok pisin or their vernacular and qualified graduates from teacher education universities and teachers colleges to teach at elementary education with good salary and conditions.

Andrew Wangi

The OBE can only work if all schools are equipped with resources like improved library systems, new and relevant textbooks, computers and internet to mentioned a few for all students. Furthermore, teacher professional development is also very important in implementing OBE. It is very overwhelming for a teacher to teach OBE lessons to 50-55 students in classroom with no or little resource available. Please government and the Department of Education, control your enrolment. Your policy says 1 teacher to 30 or 35. Have you changed your policy? Please " walk the talk".

Mocksy Haizen

Yes,OBE is best for PNG. But is the teacher who plans the lesson and brings it to the student?

OBE is best because it also helps children to live a life not just passing exams or tests.

Nellie Hamura

What is really wrong with OBE? What is OBE anyway? What is the difference between OBE and the former system?

Those of us not in the education system or unfamiliar with the system do not know what is wrong. However, we are concerned and would like the OBE debate to be understood by the rural iliterate majority.

What is really wrong, is it the implementation or what? What is happening with our recipients, or the students who are forced into this system without zero or less option (maybe for just a few)?

I do not see a problem with students learning moret ahn 3 languages at the same time; English, Tok Pisin and Tok Ples (local dialect). That is rich knowledge and a bonus. Are we lacking the expertise? How does the OBE contribute to the yearly in-take for High Schools or even tertiary?

I suggest our students have been distracted by post modernism. Has there been research made to disregard the OBE? Is it all just assumptions? This assmptions ought to be tested before any 'new' education can be tried out again because it is a process.

Peter Kranz

Why is OBE judged as ineffective? Maybe the implementation in PNG was flawed, but the principles are sound. Kids demonstrate they have learnt something by producing a measurable outcome.

I mentioned once before that you wouldn't want to travel in a plane if the pilot hadn't been trained by an OBE method. The pilot proved he had learnt to fly by actually doing it against clear measurements.

So what's so wrong with OBE? And while we are at it, what's wrong with Evidence Based Medicine - which is used by medical institutions world-wide? The principles are similar.

Frank Daosak

Whose brainchild was it to bring in this OBE system that has sent the country backwards by 10 years? Also the elementary system needs to be done away with.

I could not see the point in sending my kids to grade one and two to be taught in pidgin or language in a town public school.
They were already speaking pidgin and English in the house so it is a step backwards.

I had no choice but to pay a higher cost to send my kids to private grammar school. Sadly many kids find it hard to adjust to high school level high school English when they pass out of grade 6, hence the higher failure rates.

Hubert Warpit

OBE (outcome based education) in PNG is surely not effective.

I really support this article and totally agree with it. I myself was part of this education system of PNG. During my high school times this OBE system was introduced to us.

Poor teachers were struggling to implement this system but it was not really effective because of lack of resources and skills.

I think the old education system is still the best because, from what I can see, it produces the best results. This new education reform is lacking and we can see that in primary schools there is a minority going to high and secondary schools.

The majority of students fail and need to upgrade their marks in order to enter high & secondary schools even university. I think we should do away with OBE and implement back our old system of education because is still the best.

Mrs Barbara Short

It is good to hear this Solomon Islander, who trained as a teacher in PNG, pointing out the way Outcomes Based Education (Curriculum) has failed in PNG.

For a long time on this blog we have heard from many people who have warned against the dangers of OBE.

In Australia, when I talk to other experienced teachers, OBE is a sort of "joke". They say things like, "Oh dear, did they fall for that rubbish!"

Now they want to call it Objective Based Education, another OBE. I guess it doesn't matter what they call it but I think it sounds confusing.

I just hope that there are still some good teachers left in PNG who will lead PNG out of the mess into which they have got themselves.

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