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More education ‘reform’: killing the system from within


WE’RE in the middle of allegations of high level corruption, court cases involving government officials, El Nino drought and deaths, government service delivery breakdown and a vote of no confidence and national protest.

But in all this, one of the most important sectors of the nation has taken another battering.

Education Minister Nick Kuman, during his recent visit to Karamui in Simbu Province, announced that the Grade 8 and Grade 10 national examinations will be phased out as part of the new standard-based education (SBE) reform.

Kuman announced that the only external examinations will be in Grade 12, while students’ results prior to that will be assessed internally. He said this aligns line with the government’s vision to have all school-aged children go through 12 years of uninterrupted education from elementary to upper secondary.

His statement came at a time when people are suffering and dying as a result of the extreme effects of El Nino. This tragedy is happening even though the government was warned some years in advance of an impending severe weather condition.

It also came at a time when the country is embroiled in issues involving self-serving and self-aggrandising elites and their cronies while the people suffer.

These issues include a pending corruption case against the prime minister, the destruction of national symbols at Parliament Haus; the dubious UBS loan deal brokered by economic hitmen and bankers; the all too familiar interference in the court system to pervert justice; and continuing questionable appointments and compromised decisions within the police hierarchy.

All these issues are now taking centre stage in the people’s minds and discussions while Nick Kuman, at a remote location in the country, makes an important announcement about the education system.

The new SBE reform, according to the education department, is to improve education standards which dramatically regressed after the introduction of the outcomes based reforms (OBE) in 1993.

The irony of the good minister’s announcement is that phasing out examinations will have an adverse effect on the overall education standards the new SBE reform seeks to address.

In any education system, there must be examinations at different levels for educators to evaluate their teaching and for the system to test and screen students to see if they are eligible and can perform at a higher level of study.

When examinations are taken out of the equation, the result for students will be a below average to average performance because will be no competition and no pressure to perform.

And when lack of competition and laziness become a culture amongst students, the job of teaching becomes very difficult and this can easily lead to a drop in teacher morale.

When there are demotivated students and teachers, the outcome is a dysfunctional education system.

Education Minister Kuman, the Education Secretary and the Education Department are still to clarify the advantages and disadvantages of the new standard based reform and the phasing out of the Grade 8 and Grade 10 national examinations after next year.

If this decision is based on sound research and proven data, then the information must be made available to stakeholders, teachers, parents and children. This has not been done.

Otherwise it seems like we are heading for another education disaster comparable to the last ‘reform’. We are going to kill our education system from within and deprive the future well-being and prosperity of our citizens.


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Philip G Kaupa

This is not a revolutionary idea, it never existed anywhere in the world and it will never be here under Kuman's administration.

Papua New Guinea is not a laboratory and we the people are not lab rats. Be mindful of the policies you bring. If you are unsure of the consequences I suggest you consult the experts.

How can you trust internal academic assessment to determine a student's progress? If people can cheat in the national examinations, I have no doubt this reform will be a total disgrace and chaos.

This among all that has happened. Paradise in Peril.

Daniel Ipan Kumbon

Raymond, you have raised an important issue here. There have been allegations of cheating in the schools perpetrated by corrupt officials in the Education Department who sold test results.

Phasing out the Grade 8 and 10 national exams will be a disaster.

It is now a requirement to provide copies of Grade 8, 10, 12 and college diploma or degree papers when seeking employment or applying for further studies. This shows consistency in a person's academic performance.

Just one Grade 12 certificate won't show much of a person's academic worth. So, Hon Nick Kuman, with due respect, I urge you to forget the new policy and allow the current system to test our students at Grade 8, 10 and 12 to remain.

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